Carter Calls for an Update to Bethel’s Master Development Plan

Report by Paula Antolini, January 6, 2023, 8:40AM EDT

Press release from Dan Carter:

Bethel, CT – Dan Carter, candidate for Bethel First Selectman and former State Representative is calling for an update to the Bethel Forward Master Plan.

“I have had many Bethel residents, long-term and recently settled, share their concerns regarding various large-scale building projects in town. They have also expressed frustration about the difficulty they have trying to stay informed,” said Carter. “It’s also clear that many residents are unaware of the Bethel Forward initiative, which dates back to 2016.”

At the heart of the Bethel Forward initiative is the Master Plan Report, which was developed from recommendations dating back to 2007. The plan’s purpose is to serve as a guide for Bethel leaders and residents to use TOD to motivate and attract residents and businesses downtown that are looking for a “vibrant lifestyle, prosperity and innovation.”

“Unfortunately, six years later we have seen very little improvement downtown, especially in our industrial zones,” remarked Carter. “It’s time that we review and update the plan with an eye toward utilizing our existing industrial zoned properties inside the TOD, which is an asset few towns have.”

While the plan mentions attracting R&D and manufacturing “appropriate to the scale of Bethel,” the plan is still largely based on the TOD concept of building neighborhoods with retail, business, and residential uses altogether. According to Carter, the plan does not take into consideration the opportunity for Bethel to take advantage of existing industrial land and create a Transit Oriented Manufacturing or Transit Oriented Technology initiative in conjunction with other TOD goals, which could bring significant revenue to the town and established businesses.

“Even back in 2016, the plan’s authors acknowledged that small manufacturing could help create reverse commutes on the rail line, which would draw in people and spending consumption from surrounding communities,” remarked Carter. “Making Bethel a destination for these workers could be a big win for our town and local businesses.”

Carter points out that after a comprehensive outreach to the community and adoption of the plan, the final suggestion by the plan authors was to have regular round-table discussions involving all stakeholders, including builders, developers, investors, and residents in order to keep everyone informed. Carter also said that every strategic plan should be reviewed and updated. To date, the Bethel Forward plan has never been revisited.

“Every strategic plan should be reviewed and updated periodically,” said Carter. “Many of our original assumptions may have changed since the plan’s adoption. We face new economic realities, and new residents have not had an opportunity to contribute to the discussion.  It’s time for us to have these discussions and update our Bethel Forward Master Plan.”

Carter also noted that the Bethel Planning & Zoning Commission has recently extended public comment on some projects currently under review and they are revisiting the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zoning regulations later this month.

“I applaud the efforts of the Planning & Zoning Commission to inform and seek input from residents,” remarked Carter. “If elected to serve Bethel, I am looking forward to creating a higher level of transparency for Bethel residents.”

The special election for Bethel First Selectman will be held on February 7, 2023.

Paid for by Dan for Bethel, Dan Nostin Treasurer. Approved by Dan Carter.