GLASTONBURY – Culminating a historic preservation effort that spanned most of the year, city council on Tuesday passed “village district” zoning bylaws in a bid to preserve and even restore some of the character of the center -City as a “New England Town.”
“It’s a new start,” said board chairman Thomas P. Gullotta, a Democrat. Gullotta led the preservation measures review with Republican Minority Leader Kurt P. Cavanaugh.
Gullotta added, however, “It won’t happen overnight.” Over the next 50 to 75 years, he said, Glastonbury can “reclaim what a New England town looks like.”
Cavanaugh called the passing of the village district bylaws “a big step forward for the city”, saying his goal is to “preserve the New England character of this city.”
The council passed the bylaws by an 8-1 vote, with only Republican Councilor Whit Osgood dissenting.
Osgood said he opposed passing village district regulations unless they were accompanied by design guidelines, which officials plan to develop as the next step in the process. For now, he said, village district regulations only require new buildings to be consistent with other buildings in the area, which he says gives owners no clue as to what they can build.
Council also voted unanimously to allocate $ 125,000 to develop design guidelines that would apply to buildings in the Village neighborhood and other commercial, mixed-use and multi-family residential developments.
City administrators have selected FHI Studio in Hartford to develop proposed design guidelines, and they plan to enter into a $ 100,000 contract with the company, chief executive Richard J. Johnson said. The additional $ 25,000 would be for additional work that the board may request in the process.
The business process will include meetings with city officials, focus groups with business and property owners, community workshops, writing design guidelines, holding public meetings to present the guidelines and related work, Johnson said in a letter to the board.
The village area is a ‘overlap zone’, in which the new regulations will apply in addition to the existing zoning regulations.
It includes the section of Main Street between the Naubuc Avenue-New London Turnpike intersection, where Katz Hardware is located, and the School Street intersection. The Village District also includes the section of Hebron Avenue between Main Street and the southbound exit of Route 2, and the section of the New London Turnpike between Salmon Brook Drive and Rankin Road.
On a related issue, council sought to preserve the commercial block at 2277-2289 Main Street, which includes the historic Wright-Gaines House and the Gaines Hotel, as well as the house in the parking lot behind, which once housed the hotel employees.
These buildings would be demolished as part of a development group’s plan to build a large apartment and retail complex known as Residences in Hebron and Main.
The effort to preserve the buildings won unanimous support from a state historic preservation organization on Friday, Johnson told the council. But he said the State Historic Preservation Office also wanted to see petitions indicating community support before going to the state attorney general’s office to seek an injunction to preserve the buildings.
The local historical society is already circulating such a petition, and Robert B. Laughlin, its executive director, told the council that several other petitions were also circulating.
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