Members of the Facebook group No Strip Mall/No Wrecking Ball met Sunday to create bold, colorful placards ahead of a flash mob-style rally Monday afternoon against a proposed zoning change on historic Washington Street.
Between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m., neighbors and residents who will be affected by a proposed zoning change will gather on the corners of High and Washington streets in Middletown to voice their opposition to a text amendment requested by local developer Robert Landino and Centerplan Company.
He's seeking a zoning change from institutional development, which allows Wesleyan University to operate in an overwhelmingly residential zone, to mixed-use commercial.
Hoping to "jam the brakes on reckless development," according to a press release by group founder, Pearl Street resident and Board of Education member Ed McKeon, No Strip Mall/No Wrecking Ball members are also protesting future commercial development and potential traffic hazards on an already heavily trafficked Route 66.
The group, started by McKeon on Nov. 29, has 160 members on Facebook.
"If the proposed zone change is passed, and planned development takes place, the planned development will cause serious traffic issues, destroy a historic neighborhood, and lower the value of neighborhood properties," his statement says.
"Route 66 was recently declared one of the most unsafe highways in Connecticut. Residents and opponents of the proposes zone change feel that the resulting development will put the roadway in virtual gridlock nearly every day. What’s more, residents feel that vehicular and pedestrian hazards will increase, and that deadly accidents will be the result."
Centerplan, has proposed a commercial development on Washington and Pearl Streets, including high-volume restaurants with drive-throught windows. To facilitate development, Centerplan has proposed a zone change with a special exception that will make it easier for such a development to go forward, according to McKeon.
On Feb. 27, more than 150 residents attended a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting to protest the change. Forty residents spoke, saying the zone change will be detrimental to neighborhoods, to Middletown’s character as a New England destination, and to the important gateways into the city.
On March 13, the Planning and Zoning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. in Middletown’s City Hall to deliberate and vote on the proposed change.
It's the hope this rally will encourage others to join in the protest. McKeon says signs are available for those who wish to help out.
Catch up on the issue by reading these related articles
- Developers Should Not Author Zoning Code
- Zoning Changes Will Have A Disastrous Ripple Effect
- I Hope We Won't Have To Clean Up After the "Elephant In the Room"
- Zoning Change Bad for Middletown's Bottom Line: Here's Why
- Protect Excellent Urbanism in Middletown's Mixed-Use Zones
- Standing Room Only as Taxpayers Pack Council Chambers Opposing Zoning Change
- Does A Fast-Food Drive-Thru Belong Here?
- Chain Restaurants VS Historic Neighborhoods