March 4, 2011
REP. FLEXER CHAMPIONS BILLS TO PRESERVE FARMS
& GIVE TOWNS NEW TOOLS FOR REDEVELOPMENT
The legislature’s Planning and Development Committee held a public hearing today on legislation that State Representative Mae Flexer (D-Killingly, Plainfield, Sterling) introduced to preserve farms, and address the vacant property problem.
“This is about protecting our agricultural heritage and character of our community—and jobs,” said Flexer. “Farming is a billion-dollar industry that provides jobs to thousands of Connecticut residents. We need to ensure that municipalities consider how their planning and zoning impacts farming.”
Flexer introduced legislation (HB 5470, HB 5471) that calls for towns to consider agricultural viability and sustainability in local plans of conservation and development, and when changing local zoning regulations.
Another bill (HB 5472) introduced by Flexer would allow municipalities to form local and regional agricultural councils that would promote and maintain local farming.
“Agricultural commissions are instrumental in promoting and preserving our local farms. They promote local agriculture, offer guidance to land use agencies, and educate Connecticut’s farmers about grant and commercial opportunities,” said Flexer. “Unfortunately current state law is confusing as to whether municipalities are authorized to form agricultural commissions. This legislation removes the ambiguity and makes it clear that towns may establish agricultural commissions.”
Flexer also introduced a bill (HB 5921) to allow municipalities to establish land banks. Land banking allows towns to remove abandoned properties from the market and either convert them into new, productive uses or hold them in reserve for other land-use planning or when the real estate market picks up.
“The ability to bank land for future redevelopment would be an important new tool for communities across northeastern Connecticut and across our state,” said Flexer. “Land banks will allow communities to put together multiple pieces of vacant or blighted properties over a period of time and construct a redevelopment plan that is thorough and comprehensive. Instead of piecemeal development, towns would be able to move forward with larger development plans with several facets including retail space, commercial development, and housing.”
State Representative Mae Flexer is serving her second term representing the 44th Assembly District of Killingly, Plainfield and Sterling. She is Chair of the Speaker’s Task Force on Domestic Violence and the Internship Committee.