Armed with vision, passion, and ideas, residents of Middletown stood before the Planning Board fighting to protect the town they love.
Several months after the initial charge from the Middletown Town Council to hold a public meeting to hear from members of the community about their ideas and concerns with limited business zoning ordinances, on Thursday the Planning Board held that meeting.
Though a few business owners showed and spoke, the majority in attendance were residents. As people shared their ideas and concerns about the zoning ordinances with the Planning Board, several clear themes surfaced – protecting ocean views (aligned with the current Middletown Community Comprehensive Plan) and the lack of protective measures for residents who live near a plot zoned for business.
Protecting Ocean Views
While residents did not explicitly say this, much of the concern with ocean views has to do with building height restrictions. The current zoning in the limited business district is 35 feet for residential houses and 40 feet for commercial structures. The 40 foot allowance is a primary culprit for blocking neighbor’s ocean and scenic views.
Fencing is another issue in the current zoning. A prime example is the 6 foot fence installed by the Newport Beach House along Purgatory Road, that destroyed the ocean view of neighboring residents and businesses.
From the discussion, residents want zoning changes that limit building heights and sizes, as well as how to construct fencing to preserve views.
Protective Measures for Residents
Another theme of the evening was businesses being disruptive and in some cases bad neighbors to residents. The common issues were noise, light, pollution, and traffic.
The current zoning ordinances address height limits and setbacks, but offer no protection for residents who’s property abuts or is located near a business. Zoning ordinances should be corrected to require businesses to install sound and light barriers as a means to provide a buffer to residential neighbors.
Other ideas that surfaced were to eliminate limited business zoning and only have residential and general business zoning, discussing issues with Newport Beach House about how their “private beach” frequently intrudes onto the Middletown public beach, and to write architectural requirements into the zoning to preserve the charm and character of Middletown as a New England beach community.
The Planning Board is still discussing this issue. If you have input about the zoning in the limited business district submit it to the planning board via the Middletown Planning Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.