“What will our future look like, and how will we get there?” Given West Haven’s location on Long Island Sound and New Haven Harbor, the city of 55,000 people enjoys the beauty of the waterfront, but it is also more susceptible to the risks of hurricanes, floods and coastal storms. To help the city create a positive future direction and increase its resilience to coastal storms, the city is currently involved in a number of planning initiatives to proactively prepare West Haven for a bright future while minimizing the community’s vulnerability to coastal storms. Below is a list of planning projects in which the city is currently involved. Where appropriate, there are links to additional supporting documents and webpages, as well as relevant online surveys through which you can help guide the city’s planning efforts by providing your opinions and preferences. Throughout the planning processes, the city will host workshops and public meetings during which you will have the opportunity to dialogue with the local committee members and professionals who are developing these plans for the future. Please get involved and make your voice heard!
The city has embarked on an update to its long-range Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), or, as commonly referred to in other states, its “Master Plan” or “Comprehensive Plan.” This plan is a guidance document that sets goals, policies and priorities for the physical, economic, environmental and social development of the community. In addition to a future Land Use Plan, the POCD will identify key strategies for guiding future development within focal areas of the city, such as the shorefront, train station area, downtown and areas surrounding the University of New Haven and Yale West campuses. A Steering Committee is overseeing the plan’s development, and a number of opportunities have been identified for involving the general public throughout the planning process, which is expected to run until the end of 2016.
The plan is being developed with the technical assistance of The RBA Group, a consulting firm based in Norwalk.
In 2006 the city adopted its first set of transit-oriented development (TOD) regulations in anticipation of the state’s construction of the newest Metro-North Railroad commuter station in West Haven in 2013. Unfortunately there have been no developments proposed under the current regulations. However, using a state grant, the city completed an assessment study of this area from 2014 to 2015 under the direction of architectural and town planning firms Robert Orr & Associates of New Haven and DPZ Partners LLC of Miami. Proposed changes to the regulations were identified to help West Haven compete more effectively with other Connecticut municipalities that have spurred new mixed-use developments around their train stations, which tend to appeal to millennials and empty nesters.
On Nov. 14, 2016, the Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing to receive input from the community on the proposed regulations. After concluding the hearing, the commission voted to adopt the regulations as proposed.
Copies of the TOD study and the adopted regulations can be viewed at the links under Public Comment in the right sidebar.
Harbor Management Plan
Under the direction of its Harbor Management Commission, the city is preparing a Harbor Management Plan to guide the most desirable use of West Haven’s navigable waters and intertidal areas for recreational, commercial and conservation purposes. Through this plan, the city is analyzing conditions within the West Haven Harbor Management Area and is recommending future goals and policies to guide the safe and beneficial use of this area and the conservation and enhancement of coastal resources, such as tidal wetlands, beaches and dunes and shellfish beds. The Harbor Management Area encompasses the city’s municipal jurisdiction on the western half of New Haven Harbor, near the shore of Long Island Sound, and tidal portions of the West River, Oyster River, Cove River and Old Field Creek.
The Harbor Management Plan will complement the POCD and the city’s waterfront zoning regulations by focusing on issues most pertinent to the safe, orderly and beneficial use of the waters of the Harbor Management Area and the protection and enhancement of the area’s natural coastal resources and water quality. Together, the two plans will function as the city’s principal guides for the use and conservation of West Haven’s coastal waters and waterfront resources.
The plan is being developed with the technical assistance of Westport coastal consultant Geoffrey Steadman.During the past year, the Harbor Management Commission has been refining the city’s proposed Harbor Management Plan. To receive comments on the draft plan, the commission has set a public informational meeting for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, 2017, in the Harriet C. North Community Room on the second floor of City Hall, 355 Main St., where consultant Geoffrey Steadman will hold a presentation and a Q&A session.
To view the draft plan, click on Harbor Management.
The impacts of Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy have demonstrated the vulnerabilities of West Haven’s coastal areas. The city has received funding to address these issues and to examine the vulnerability and levels of risk to minimize, manage and respond to the possibility of significant damage from future storms. A Community Coastal Resilience Plan is being prepared with the assistance of engineering consultant Milone & MacBroom Inc. of Cheshire. (A companion project, the Wastewater Treatment Facility Outfall Study for the city’s Water Pollution Control Plant, is being developed by engineering consultant Black & Veatch Corp. of Burlington, Massachusetts, as part of the overall study.)
The Coastal Resilience Plan will help the city evaluate various adaptation options considered throughout the northeastern United States to determine the appropriate strategies to use in West Haven. The plan will evaluate current local regulations, assess various shoreline protection options (traditional shoreline structures, such as seawalls, dikes, etc., and “green” options, such as beach and dune enhancement), property protection options (such as elevating and flood-proofing) and infrastructure options (protection of at-risk public facilities), among other solutions.
As part of the process, the city held a number of public and neighborhood workshops in developing the strategies that seemed most appropriate for West Haven. The city is scheduling a public informational meeting for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 20, 2017, in the Harriet C. North Community Room on the second floor of City Hall, 355 Main St., where its consultants will present the plan’s recommendations.
To view the final plan, click on Draft Coastal Resilience Plan. A separate set of appendices is also available by clicking on Appendices.