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Friday, January 30, 2004

Westport First Selectwoman Outlines Regional Legislative Goals

Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell and mayors and selectmen from neighboring communities met today to outline the region’s legislative goals.

Farrell, who is chair of the South Western Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, held a breakfast session with the municipal leaders at Norwalk City Hall.

Among the goals cited by Farrell and Daniel Wilder, chair of the South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA), was continued investment in commuter rail equipment, infrastructure and services, especially for Metro-North’s New Haven Line and its 92,000 daily riders.

The local leaders also asked that state lawmakers integrate funding for critical transit services into the Connecticut Department of Transportations operating budget.

They also wanted $402,000 in state funding to offset lost federal funding for transit services for the elderly and disabled.

Other requests included asking that a build-out analysisӔ be undertaken to understand how Connecticut will look in 25, 35 and 50 years from now under current patterns of development.

They asked that the Department of Public Health be given authority to protect reservoirs and their watershed lands.

This should include the right to reject applications for reservoir abandonment by private water companies or water authorities when the agency determines that the reservoir may be needed for future statewide water supply, they said.

Also on the list was a request to maintain sustained state funding for critical local aid programs and a suggestion to move toward stronger regional cooperation by providing incentives for conversion of all Regional Planning Organizations to Councils of Governments (COGs).

The local leaders said lawmakers should develop a framework for strengthening COGs so that they have greater authority to foster regional cooperation.

Another request was asking for legislative support of reform proposed by the Connecticut Bar Association in the controversial Poirer v. Wilton Zoning Board of Appeals case.

They said unless this is done, there will be new burdens on municipal planning officials who must not only apply and enforce different sets of regulations within a single municipality but who must also determine what set of regulations apply.

Finally, the chief elected officials of the region said they strongly urged the General Assembly and governor to avoid imposing additional burdens on the states 169 municipalities in developing the budget.

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Posted 01/30/04 at 09:09 PM  Permalink



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