Tag Archives: land use

CT’s Regionalization: Cost-Savings and Service Sharing

Originally published at Global Site Plans

connecticut-capitol

Unlike most of the United States, Connecticut has no system of county governance. While a regional, “county” government once existed (ceasing in 1960), it didn’t hold much power and had very few functions. Under the laws of the state constitution, 169 towns hold powers similar to that of a city and manage their own administration. To meet the cost-sharing, regional needs of local governments, Connecticut passed a law in 1947 “allowing two or more contiguous towns with planning commissions to form a regional planning authority.” The statute called for these regional planning authorities to be:

“Based on studies of physical, social, economic and governmental conditions and trends and shall be designed to promote with the greatest efficiency and economy the coordinated development of the region within its jurisdiction and the general welfare and prosperity of its people.”

In 1948 the first new regional planning authority, covering New Haven and a few of its suburbs began operation. Planning authorities would gain more importance in Connecticut in 1954 when new federal grants for projects in cities and regional areas became available, but required that administration be done by official regional agencies. Within twelve years of creation, New Haven’s Regional Planning Authority of the South Central Region served all of the towns in its region, fifteen in total. However, there were holdouts to regional planning authorities and a reluctance to mandate all towns to participate in one.

After the state outlined boundaries for fifteen different planning regions in 1957 in an attempt to make them “logical and economical,” there was often contention and negotiation about which planning region a town was allowed to belong to.  Before that legislation, town contiguity in a planning region could theoretically stretch across Connecticut. To encourage participation, incentives were offered, and in some cases, sanctions imposed. Very often, the state would mandate specific activities be regionalized, or perform the project planning itself, overriding the input of the non-participating towns.

ccm-website-screenshot

Two state-wide groups supplement the regional planning agencies and provide cities and towns with management and technical assistance, research, and lobbying efforts. The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), founded in 1966; and Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST), founded in 1975, are governed by boards of elected officials of the member municipalities. CCM currently represents roughly 90% of Connecticut towns, and is a powerful lobby at the capitol. COST, represented by first selectmen, mayors and managers, has also been successful, writing and lobbying the legislation which established the state’s Small Town Economic Assistance Program.

Over time, three types of regional planning organizations have evolved under Connecticut General Statutes: the regional planning agency, the regional council of elected officials, and the newer regional councils of government (COGS), which provide cities and towns a wider ranges of services than the earlier regional planning agencies.  The state has recently consolidated the fifteen regional planning agencies into nine, as part of recommendations negotiated with CCM, COST, and the COGS. As of January 1, 2015, the municipalities within these nine regions must adopt local ordinances to join a single Regional Council of Governments in each of these nine regions.

How is regionalized planning approached where you live? What is the role of government?

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Recognition of Slum Dwellers is Essential

"African urban legislation is based on the 1947 UK Town and Country Planning Act, where the legitimacy of informal settlements is not considered. As a result, mass evictions and demolitions have occurred over the years, leading to rebuilding of structures or relocation of residents. Slumlords and politically connected individuals take advantage by settling people on public land and unused private land."

Recognition of Slum Dwellers is Essential for Urban Development in Nairobi
Pressed via: The Grid | Global Site Plans, Author: Constant Cap

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Historic Aerials: Main St. Over the Quinebaug, Danielson

1934

Danielson, Connecticut and Quebec Square
google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/eNmJ6
UCONN – Historical Aerial Photographs
http://magic.lib.uconn.edu/mash_up/1934.html

1952

1970

1995

2014

And again, if you’d like to play with the maps:
Danielson, Connecticut and Quebec Square
google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/eNmJ6
UCONN – Historical Aerial Photographs
http://magic.lib.uconn.edu/mash_up/1934.html

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Rashida Manjoo: Advice for Africa

Dr. Rashida Manjoo, lawyer and international advocate to advance women’s rights makes points in her conversation with University of Connecticut students which have relevance to the issue of African nationalism and independence.

By knowing your struggle—becoming educated on it, and the means of changing it—you can overcome it. Becoming familiar with barriers oppression, one will quickly find legal grounds in policy, and “having a law degree helps you understand the world in a way.”

Having an understanding of policy and the means to change it was a path traveled by Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah. Nkrumah obtained a Western education, and used this to assist his advocacy for Pan-Africanism, by organizing supporters and leading conferences on the matter. He was then able to apply his understanding of Western legal systems and political navigation to help Ghana (then the Gold Coast) achieve self-rule from the UK, by the ballot in February of 1951, and ultimately, independence in March of 1957.

Dr. Manjoo also conveyed an approach to measure the effectiveness of issue advocacy. If “what people were demanding in the past, they are demanding today,” then the issue is still in need of advocacy. This relates well to the land issues of Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically, that of Zimbabwe and South Africa. Their freedom struggles were grounded in the return of the land for majority use from the minority white settler populations. Since independence, the black majority is still landless, and the bulk of the land remains in white, Western, and now “Eastern” hands. In many cases, choice properties have become the private estates of leaders in government, or political gifts to their supporters.

There are many examples between the two countries that of land that once was fertile, now fallow and no longer productive. Fear is the issue making the trained agriculturalist a refugee to neighboring Botswana or Mozambique. Land equity has not been effectively addressed “on the ground,” and the issue remains just as pressing as it did at independence and fifty years prior. The need for discussion and resolution persists.

UCONN’s: Violence Against Women Conference
IMAGE and recent Manjoo news: UN expert heads to UK to investigate violence against women

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ZIM: Soil Poaching, Too

The maximum  fine stipulated for local authorities to charge illegal soil extractors, is not deterrent enough to help fight the rising crime, says Marondera Mayor, Farai Nyandoro.

The maximum $20 fine is not deterrent enough to help fight the rising crime, says Marondera Mayor, Farai Nyandoro.

Most soil extraction is carried out at night when council security officers do not patrol the affected areas. “The practice adversely affected council housing developmental projects, as areas affected by the illegal soil extraction are almost impossible to service for both residential and commercial purposes,” added the mayor.

The thieves even use mechanized earthmoving equipment such as graders, front loaders, tipper trucks and other heavy machinery to illegally extract the soil.

Soil poaching is fast crawling towards farming areas under the jurisdiction of Rural District Councils. Some new farmers desperate to make a living have been accused of selling soil from their properties to the poachers. But analysts say the practice would render farms unproductive in the long run, as it strips away valuable top soil.

The Zimbabwean: Soil poaching on the rise

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