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Town Hearings Don't Work, Claims Avon Resident

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted to Avon Patch by Dina Pelletier. Have something to add to her perspective? Tell us in the comments!

Dear Editor,

I am totally disappointed in the public hearing system. The town government thinks that no one cares enough to participate. That is not what is going on. Below I would like to share my experience and offer possible solutions to the numerous problems.

When I went around to talk to my neighbors on Arch Road, no one knew that Reflexite was planning to double the size of their factory.

  • THE FIX: Require adjacent property owners, within a certain radius, to be notified.

Most neighbors told me that they did not believe that speaking up would change anything.

 

  • THE FIX: Let the citizens know, at every opportunity, that their voice matters.

The town’s system for participation is dis-empowering. Let’s take the public hearings as an example:

An agenda that has two items that will impact our street was emailed on Friday afternoon - after the office had closed - and the hearing was on the following Tuesday! In this example, we received 48 business hour’s notice…. How are we supposed to talk to our neighbors to make sure everyone knows? Get everyone info? Change our schedules? Arrange for babysitters so people can attend the hearing? This is rude, or worse (is this a tactic?).

 

  • THE FIX: Require agendas to be published two weeks before the hearing.


In order to find out what the developers are proposing, we have to call the town. (But in this case, they were already closed for the weekend at 12:30 p.m., when the agenda arrived via email at 12:56 p.m.)

 

  • THE FIX: Put an explanation on each agenda item on the agenda.

When we get to the hearing, the room is set up so that the committee is up on a stage, “above” the people.

  • THE FIX: Remove the platform.

The developers get to sit in front, at tables, with all their plans facing the committee, so that the audience can’t even see them.

 

  • THE FIX: require all plans to be online, so we can examine them ahead of time. Allow the developers to post a video of their presentation ahead of time.

If the public sends in a letter, it is not read aloud at the hearing, giving it much less weight.

 

  • THE FIX:  Require letters to be read at the hearings.

“New Applications” is a section at the bottom of the agenda. This is where brand-new items that the town staff did not feel required a public hearing go. By putting items in this category, however, appears to remove the public’s ability to ask question, or comment on the application.  I feel that this removes public power.

  • THE FIX: Allow questions and comment on all agenda items.


Can we start to see how dis-empowering this process is?  And the big question, do we have the will to fix it?

Sincerely,

Dina Pelletier,
Avon Resident

P.S.  All that said, I would also like to acknowledge the time and effort put in by all the committee volunteers - thank you all, (system short-comings are not your fault).

J. Sosallter July 18, 2012 at 08:45 PM
The writer's perspective and practicality are to be commended. Thank you. Here's information about the Town's agenda's - the timing of posting is a bit haphazard but you can try to proactively look here for future agenda items. http://www.avonassessor.com/propcards/1/admin/a109017301.html Additionally, look here for Planning and Zoning Meeting Minutes http://www.town.avon.ct.us/Public_Documents/AvonCT_BComm/planzone
J. Sosallter July 18, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Lastly, with respect to noises arising from Avon Park South, may I suggest contacting Steve Kusher of the Town directly. skushner@town.avon.ct.us. He is responsive, and should at least know more about the concerns and hear from more people. Please note that in minutes from the June 2012 meeting, it is mentioned that the Town does not receive many complaints from the area. However, many people DO notice the unusually loud sounds that come from Avon Park North, near Reflixite and Legere. Please further note that the residents of Peachtree Village off Darling are experiencing these noises but are new to Town (in many cases) and don't know where to register complaints. The noise issue, whether HVAC or other systems and trucks occurs at all hours. It is frequently not possible to sleep with windows open in this area (from Sylvan to Richard Streets) without screeching machinery sounds intruding at different hours of the night. A campaign to share experiences seems wise.

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