Published April 25. 2014 4:00AM
Ledyard - For the second time in as many years, the town will look to revamp its zoning regulations in an effort to simplify the language and streamline the approval process for new businesses.
The Town Council voted Wednesday night to create a new ad hoc committee to review the town's zoning regulations.
The committee will consist of two members from the Planning and Zoning Commission, one town councilor, one member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, one member from the community, and one staff member from the town's Land Use Department to serve as a nonvoting member.
The new committee will continue the work of the former Zoning Regulations Rewrite Committee, which, in the fall of 2012, made the first major changes to town zoning laws since they were originally adopted in 1963 - shortly before the then-Zoning Commission disbanded to make way for a new combined Planning and Zoning Commission.
The former Zoning Commission's final action was to approve those changes, which attempted to address conflicts between town zoning and state laws and trimmed more than 60 pages from a formerly 200-page document. The subcommittee was in charge of $80,000 in state grant money to make the changes with the help of a consultant.
It wasn't enough, said Town Council Chairman Linda Davis.
"From the day they were adopted, there's been a lot of confusion," she said. "They're not good regulations."
One of the issues, said Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Mike Cherry, is that the old subcommittee tried to be too specific, using wording the layperson cannot understand. The process included too many people, he said, and dragged on for well over a year.
The resulting document is unfriendly to developers, who must go through an extensive special permit and approval process to open a new business in town.
"People without a tech background can't figure out what the heck we're saying," he said of the current regulations.
This review will serve as a "general cleanup," he said. After the committee finishes its report, the Planning and Zoning Commission will decide what changes, if any, to make.
Committee members will be appointed for a three-month term, with the goal of completing a final report with recommendations to the Planning and Zoning Commission by the end of the term. The first meeting will be held within a month of the Town Council's appointment of its members.