Brookfield looks to reinvigorate growth with easy to understand rules
Sometimes starting from scratch is the easiest way to build back up. A poet will find a new page, a painter will gesso their canvas, but the process is much harder in government. Addendums and amendments can obfuscate rather than clarify, language and technology change creating a gulf between law and reality. It is for this reason that Brookfield has decided to modernize and clarify their Zoning Regulations.
Starting in 2016, the town aimed to update the regulations, which had become a hurdle that many businesses and homeowners found unnecessarily difficult to navigate. According to First Selectman Steve Dunn, quoted in the Danbury News Times, the town’s rules and regulations were contained in a book that was five to six inches thick.
Recognizing the difficulty in parsing a book of that size, the Zoning Rewrite Ad Hoc Committee was created in March of 2017 with the goal of reducing time, costs, error and need for technical assistance in order to understand and comply with regulations.
Problematic regulations back to top
They identified many problematic standards and regulations, including small sheds and pools, chickens and roosters, outdoor music, and Historic District enforcement among others. Also identified were provisions needed for outdoor wood furnaces, Town Center sign design guidelines, and ADA accommodations.
Throughout the process, the new rules were written with Plain English in mind, meaning that it is free of technical jargon and should be easily understood. With a year’s worth of rewrites and revisions, the regulations zoning book lost four to five inches in thickness, coming in at just under 250 pages.
Not only will the law be more easily understood, but residents will have the option to fill out paperwork online. This process is currently limited to applicants who are looking to make small changes such as backyard sheds and room additions, according to the News Times. Furthermore, they will not have to appear before the land use boards if the zoning laws are followed.
Dunn notes that by removing simple decisions like sheds, that gives the zoning board much more time and flexibility to discuss larger matters.
The new Zoning Regulations went into effect in December 2018, and if the conversion is successful, Brookfield will see reinvigorated investment in development and growth.