Did you know Wallingford has a neighborhood plan? It does! The Plan is 103 pages long and filled with flowery prose and pictures of bungalows. It was written a few months before I arrived in Wallingford, 17 years ago. If you’re having trouble going to sleep tonight, here it is.
The Plan used to really, really matter. It was put together when Jim Diers was in charge of the all powerful Department of Neighborhoods. The idea back then was to put neighborhoods in charge of their own development. Community meetings decided The Plan, then The Plan decided zoning codes for developers and where the city would spend money in the neighborhood.
Now adays the Department of Neighborhoods really only manages the Neighborhood Matching Fund. Development rules get updated by council members in exchange for funding their next campaign, which as of the 2013 reporting year was about $200,000 per candidate in competitive races.
But still, Wallingford’s zoning dates back to that magical day 17 years ago! And some people from back then are still around that care about zoning codes. Go figure. You can meet them at the Wallingford Community Council Land Use Committee, where they will tell you all the many ways they have lost fights over zoning codes.
They lose to a strangely successful alliance between moneyed, conservative developer interests and acolytes of The Stranger pushing car-free density. Together they form a political juggernaut that makes developer friendly rules changes regularly, rationalizing them as being for being for transit, or for micro-housing, or for green buildings, or for low income housing incentives, or so the executives at Brooks Sports can have a better view. It’s not likely to change either; in the last mayoral campaign Peter Steinbruck ran on reviving neighborhood control, then was soundly trounced in the primaries.
In broad terms, 45th and Stone are currently being plowed under as they are part of the”Urban Village” envisioned in 1998. Here’s Wallingford’s zoning today:
Which is more or less a direct copy from the charmingly hand drawn map in the Neighborhood Plan, from back before the days when PanaVision colorized everything:
If you want the details, the Department of Planning and Development has a site you can get lost in for years.