Many communities have difficulty answering the question, What will our future look like, and how will we get there? For West Haven, that question is further influenced by the community’s location on Long Island Sound and New Haven Harbor: Coastal communities enjoy the beauty of the waterfront but also have the responsibility of planning for extreme weather, such as hurricanes, floods and coastal storms.
The city has embarked on a number of planning initiatives in recent years. Below is a summary of current and recent planning initiatives that have all been geared toward making the city a more attractive place to live, work and play.
After adopting the city’s current Plan of Conservation and Development in 2017, the Planning and Zoning Commission formed a subcommittee that has spearheaded a multitude of planning efforts to help implement the POCD. As of 2020, the following planning projects are underway — with more on the way. Watch for public engagement opportunities to participate in these efforts:
Late in 2018, the Planning and Zoning Commission formed a neighborhood-based Steering Committee to help develop an Allingtown Plan as recommended in the Plan of Conservation and Development. Throughout 2019 and early 2020, the committee met to develop the plan and combined efforts with the commission to hold two workshops to obtain community input. The committee and the Allingtown community had a distinct interest in making the Allingtown Center a more walkable community, particularly close to the University of New Haven campus. A variety of recommendations were included in a draft plan that was presented to the committee and the commission for their consideration in June 2020.
In recent years, it had become increasingly clear to the Planning and Zoning Commission of the need to modify the city’s current roadways to better accommodate travel by those on foot and bike. The city approached the South Central Regional Council of Governments in 2019 to request funding for a citywide Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan. SCRCOG moved quickly to secure the necessary money to include this plan in its 2020 Work Plan. The Beta Group Inc., an engineering firm based in Hartford, was selected to prepare a study of the Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan. The study has been delayed until the latter part of 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2017, the General Assembly enacted a law, Section 8-30j of the Connecticut General Statutes, requiring municipalities to adopt an Affordable Housing Plan by July 2022. The Planning and Zoning Commission worked with the South Central Regional Council of Governments and planning consultant RKG Associates Inc. of Boston to draft and adopt the plan.
Under the direction of the Harbor Management Commission, the city prepared a Harbor Management Plan in 2015-18 to guide the most desirable use of West Haven’s navigable waters and intertidal areas for recreational, commercial and conservation purposes. The plan was reviewed and approved by the state and was ultimately adopted by the City Council in September 2018. Through this plan, the city analyzed conditions within the West Haven Harbor Management Area and recommended a number of 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 complements the Plan of Conservation and Development 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 function as the city’s principal guides for the use and conservation of West Haven’s coastal waters and waterfront resources.
The plan was developed with the technical assistance of Westport coastal consultant Geoffrey Steadman. The preparation of the plan was influenced by an online community survey, to which more than 550 residents and interested individuals responded.
See the Harbor Management Plan (PDF).
Proposed Boat Launching Ramp: After the adoption of the Harbor Management Plan, the Harbor Management Commission turned its efforts to planning for a much-needed boat launching ramp. The existing boat launch on April Street is more than a mile from the federal channel, and users are limited to narrow periods of high tide to ensure sufficient water depth for launching, according to RACE Coastal Engineering LLC of Stratford.