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Planning and Zoning Candidates

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Meet our Planning and Zoning Commission Candidates; Elaine Matto, Thomas Harbinson and Nancy Dickal

The Shelton Herald asked our Candidates 2 questions: 1. What is the major challenge facing city zoning now and in the near future? What would you do to help meet that challenge? And 2. There have been complaints of overdevelopment in the city. Do you agree, and if so, what would you do in your role to help keep development in check?

You can read their responses below.

Nancy Dickal (D)

Work - Retired from 40-year career as a healthcare professional

Political - Formerly served on the Board of Apportionment and Taxation and Planning & Zoning Commission as well as a P&Z Alternate

Community - A Shelton resident for 49 years; was appointed by former Sen. Donald Williams Jr., Pro Tempore, to serve as a board member of the Home Advisory Council in Hartford. She also volunteers helping senior citizens, assisting her daughter in animal rescues, Shelton Earth Day Sweeps and has 'Adopted A Street' to help keep Shelton litter free. She received the Shelton "Flags for Heroes" in 2023 for her volunteer work.

1. One of the major challenges facing the city of Shelton's zoning are the parking and traffic related issues. Parking availability is essential for businesses to flourish and be profitable. Creating a greater flow of customers at restaurants and shops brings greater profit to sustain businesses. A frequent police presence patrolling to prevent crime and ensuring public safety would also be an asset, as well as an addition of recreational bike paths and busing into the downtown area. We also need to address the overdevelopment of apartments. Having the availability of low-income affordable housing for those looking to buy or rent their home. As a candidate for the Planning and Zoning Commission, I am devoted and passionate about my community and will work for the people. Previous experience in this field, as a former Planning and Zoning Commissioner and Alternate, I have mastered how to communicate as well as delegate with all political parties. This skill set is vital in order to achieve success. I hope to be able to put this to use to help build our town for a brighter future.

2. In regard to the complaints of overdevelopment in Shelton, I agree. If I were to be elected as a planning and zoning commissioner, I would want to focus on building relationships with local businesses, as well as our residents, to hear their input and ideas on what growth needs to be facilitated to make for a brighter and successful future. The master plan for conservation in the city of Shelton, needs to be looked at and revised. The continuous overdevelopment creates problematic issues that need to be addressed, such as our public school system, traffic, crime, and other city services. The goal needs to be everyone working together as a whole, not as a political party, but as elected officials working for you.

Thomas Harbinson (D)

Work – 2013 to present: Farmer, Facilities and Hospitality Manager; 1992 to 2013: Owner, family-owned construction company

Political – 1998 to present: Commissioner, Shelton Conservation Commission; 2009: Alternate Commissioner, Shelton Planning & Zoning Commission; 2006: Member, Shelton Plan Update Advisory Committee

Community – 2002 to present: Director, Shelton Economic Development Corporation. He has also served as a deacon, elder, trustee and youth leader at his church.

1. The largest challenge facing Shelton is the perversion of a formerly steady zoning tool known as the Planned Development District (PDD). Even our mayor in his role as a private citizen has seen the economic advantage of subverting an underlying R1 zone by applying for 16 homes on 5 acres in the middle of an R-1 residential neighborhood using the PDD mechanism. A resident should not fear that their investment in a home would be diminished by an unexpected and inappropriate development plopped down next door. Even our #1 taxpayer Robert Scinto expressed concern when an adjacent property veered via the PDD into requesting apartments instead of a component more complementary to the underlying office park district. Former P&Z Chairman Frank Osak, who guided planning decisions when Route 8 was being constructed, said about the more recent state of PDD approvals from the P&Z Commission: "You people are having a problem telling people ‘no.’ I’m really concerned about the process." (Shelton Herald 2014Dec22). Misuse of the PDD mechanism has to end. When a PDD application is before me, it will receive a thorough and transparent review to provide consistency, and not allow what in my opinion has become "spot zoning.”

2. I have lived on the same street in Shelton for over 58 years. I have certainly seen development changes in Shelton over that span, some we can all agree are for the better, and some disappointing to me. My early career was as controller for our family construction company, founded in Shelton by my father. Our involvement in large-scale projects in the NY-metro area shows I both understand and appreciate the advances that come with development. Contrastingly, both my parents were farmers, and my latter career currently has me working on a farm, with a deep affection for preserving agricultural lands and the balance that preserved open space can bring to a community through passive recreation opportunities. I do not agree that there has been "over-development", but rather there has been economic development without an eye toward balance to also satisfying our community needs. If more density in applications causes an increase in demands to infrastructure, be that traffic or sewage, should those impacts be borne upon the shoulders of residents? I would keep development attractively flowing to Shelton at a steady manageable pace (definition of "in-check") by consistently following our PoCD, a "master plan" that should guide all government body decision making.

Elaine Matto (D) - Incumbent

Work - A nurse for over 25 years, working in home health and hospice. She is a nurse case manager at St. Vincent’s, helping people make plans for their care after the hospital.

Political - Planning & Zoning Commissioner since 2011.

Community - Moved to Shelton in 1983. She married the late Ralph Matto and was quite involved in the community. The couple started the first Shelton Day.

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