At the public hearing on Wednesday evening, Feb. 27, at City Hall, the Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission decided to postpone its decision on the two proposals to alter zoning codes in areas around the University, including Washington Street. The Commission plans to vote during its next meeting on March 13.
According to the Middletown Eye, almost 150 people attended the hearing at the Council Chambers, pushing the discussion until nearly midnight. Forty people spoke out against Chief Executive Officer of Centerplan Development Robert Landino’s proposal to change the Mixed Use (MX) code to allow high-density and high-traffic retail and restaurants with drive-thrus on Washington Street. Most of the proposal’s opponents identified themselves as residents of the neighborhoods near either Washington Street or South Main Street.
Others voiced support for the Centerplan development and proposal, including developer Robert Landino, Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew, former Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano, Chamber of Commerce member Jeff Pugliese, University Vice President for Finance and Administration John Meerts, and two residents planning to sell their properties to Landino’s Centerplan development company, according to the Middletown Eye.
Meerts delivered a statement on behalf of the University, stating that the University supports the preservation of the neighborhood’s architecture, urban design, and history. However, he also noted the potential benefits of commercial development.
“New development is important to the vibrancy and economic vitality of cities,” he said, according to the Middletown Eye report.
Many members of the University faculty and students attended the hearing, with many faculty members speaking against the Centerplan proposal, the Middletown Eye reports. A Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) Resolution, a Sense of the Faculty Resolution, and 62 percent of respondents to a WSA student survey oppose Centerplan’s development and MX zoning change proposal.