Kent gathers feedback from the community for update to master plan

Camp Francis Beaman Pond in Kent. Preservation of natural recources is one area for which the town is interested in getting input from residents and non-residents.

KENT — Internet access, senior housing and preservation of natural resources are some of the questions asked by the new survey for the town’s master plan.

Kent’s Planning & Zoning Commission is conducting the survey to get feedback from residents, property owners and visitors as part of updating the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.

“The Plan of Conservation and Development is something that every town in the state of Connecticut needs to have in place, and has to be updated every 10 years (per the state statute),” said Donna Hayes, Kent’s land use administrator.

Kent’s current plan was updated in 2013, so the town is now starting the process of rewriting it.

“One of the ways to do that is to issue a survey to see if people’s ideas or wishes, and complaints concerns have changed since the last plan was written,” Hayes said.

There is a subcommittee working on the plan, according to Hayes. “Ultimately, it’s a document that is supported by the town’s Planning & Zoning Commission,” she said.

The survey, which is accessible through the town’s Facebook page and website, is open to everyone, not just residents or property owners in town.

“Believe it or not, non-residents who travel and visit Kent sometimes come up with some pretty good ideas about how the commercial area can be improved to attract more customers,” Hayes said.

Hard copies of the survey will be distributed to Town Hall, the Templeton Farm senior housing complex and the Kent Memorial Library over the next few days. The survey runs through midnight of Oct. 3.

Survey questions include how people feel about broadband, preserving open space and enhancing community character.

There are also questions that pertain to promoting agriculture. “Do you want the town to keep its rural feel and look? Or do you want it to go in a different direction?” Hayes said.

Additionally, the survey asks questions about the environment — such as carbon footprint, electric cars and improving river access.

Questions about housing also play a role in the survey.

Hayes referenced the Kent Affordable Housing in town, such as Stuart Farm Apartments. “Do people think we need more senior housing?” she asked.

The 2013 plan is “not a very good one,” said Hayes, since while “it addresses a lot of topics, it’s not very user friendly.”

The current plan is 65 pages long, with other documents included with it, such as a town character study, village center information and maps.

“I’m hoping that the plan is going to be a little bit shorter,” said Hayes, adding, “We’re trying to get together a document now that residents would actually be interested in reading.”

Since the survey went live Monday, there has already been 200 responses. For a town of 3,500 residents, Hayes said this was a very positive start.

Once the survey closes, the responses will be analyzed. The results factor into what goes into the plan, according to Hayes.

She added that a revised plan can drive the town’s zoning regulations.

“There might be something in there that is not allowed by the zoning regulations at the current time, so if we find that that’s a concern for residents then we might want to change our regulations to accommodate that,” Hayes said.

From speaking to residents, Hayes said no one knew the town even had a Plan of Conservation and Development.

Hayes said she feels broadband, internet access and cell phone service are current top concerns for the town.

“As a resident of the town for 15 years, I think that due to COVID and due to the amount of transplants that we now have in Kent — where people who were part-time have now become full time, I think internet access, broadband access, and cell phone service — that’s going to be top on the list,” Hayes said. “A lot of people are now working from their homes. That’s the change that I have seen.”

Connecticut Media Group