After P&Z rejects proposed zoning change, commission continues ECAD public hearing

Winsted Town Seal
Winsted Town Seal

WINSTED — At their regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 8, the Planning and Zoning Commission rejected a proposed zoning amendment submitted to the town by Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD).
The organization proposed a zoning amendment that would provide a bonus of five percent impervious surface coverage if Low Impact Development (LID) techniques are employed on a property in the Rural Residential (RR) Zone.
The zoning amendment coincides with ECAD’s application for a special permit that, if approved, would allow ECAD to go ahead with Phase 3 of a site plan for the construction of a new building that would house adult service dogs in training.
If built, the 7,000 square foot building would have a dog kennel, an indoor exercise run, and office space, which would be located proximal to the existing training facility.
The application process for the new building has been controversial, with residents and neighbors of the ECAD property on 149 Newfield Road coming out against the proposed expansion.
Meanwhile, in an interview with The Winsted Phoenix in December, ECAD Executive Director Dale Picard threatened to sue the town if the organization did not get its way.
At the Feb. 8 meeting, commission members Gerald Martinez supported the proposed zoning amendment.
“It stays in harmony with the zoning in the lake district,” Martinez said. “It’s worked well in the district in terms of mitigating water and other aspects of the environment. It extends what we have in our current regulations.”
Commission member Arthur Melycher said that he agreed with Martinez and said he supported the amendment.
However, member Peter Marchand disagreed and opposed the amendment.
“It would allow through our special permit process overbuilding on some of the lots,” Marchand said. “I can see where it’s needed at the lake where it’s the only zone it’s allowed in right now. All of the lake district has nonconforming lots and very small lots. But in rural residential areas, we have large lots. I just don’t see where it’s needed.”
Board member Craig Sanden agreed and said that, if passed, the amendment would interfere with the town’s current zoning regulations.
“We have spent almost a year trying to simplify our regulations, and it seems like every time we’re coming up with something outside of the spectrum of our existing regulations, we’re going to end up with 5,000 zoning zones in the town of Winchester,” Sanden said. “I think they have an avenue open to them through a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.”
“We’ve tried to make the zoning regulations workable and much more simplified so we have a lot fewer zones,” Chairman George Closson said. “There is definitely a hardship here in [ECAD’s] situation because of the fire regulations that have changed since the original application came in. It dries a need that is not controlled by the applicant and his design team.”
Closson added that he agreed with Sanden and Marchand and suggested that Picard goes to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance request.
The commission eventually voted unanimously to vote down the zoning amendment request.
It was eventually decided by the commission to continue the public hearing to the next scheduled regular Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Monday, Feb. 22.

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