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July 23, 2020

Sara Bronin steps down as Hartford’s planning and zoning chair

Photo | Contributed Sara Bronin is stepping down as Hartford's planning and zoning commission chair.

Sara Bronin is stepping down as chair of Hartford’s planning and zoning commission (PZC) after serving the post for nearly seven years.

Bronin, a UConn law professor and land-use attorney, and wife of Mayor Luke Bronin, told HBJ on Thursday she is voluntarily stepping down as the city’s PZC chair.

Bronin was appointed to the position by her husband’s predecessor, Mayor Pedro Segarra, in fall 2013, and was named chair in 2014. Luke Bronin was elected mayor in 2016.

Her term expired in Feb. 2017, however, the city charter allows members of the zoning commission to serve until they are removed or replaced.

A new PZC chair is expected to be elected at the commission’s next meeting on Tuesday, July 28.

Bronin in a farewell letter to the zoning board on Thursday, which she shared with HBJ, thanked both past and current members for their service in the last seven years. 

"I've devoted significant time and energy to improving the city's land use regime, and it's time for others to take the lead, while I focus my efforts on other things," said Bronin, who has been leading a statewide land use coalition, DesegregateCT, this summer.

During Bronin's tenure as chair, she noted that the PZC adopted the city's first subdivision regulations, bylaws and public hearing rules, and a formal guide outlining the commission's powers in 2014.

In 2016, PZC also undertook the massive task of overhauling the city's zoning guidelines, which Bronin said "prioritized equity (including affordable housing), environmental sustainability, neighborhood architectural character and economic development."

Three years later, the commission initiated its 10-year city planning process and engaged nearly 2,000 residents through public meetings, targeted outreach and a survey. That process helped develop Hartford's next master plan, adopted this spring, which lays out an ambitious plan to promote equity, renewable energy and economic growth in the region ahead of the city’s 400th birthday in 2035.

The PZC, she said, has received several awards for its efforts in recent years. Those include the Smart Growth America & Form-Based Codes Institute Driehaus Award, the Capital Region Council of Governments Sustainability Award, the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association Transformative Planning Award and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities Inaugural Sustainability Award, among others.

Bronin urged current commissioners to remain steadfast in their decision-making as it has a lasting impact on hundreds of millions of dollars in local economic activity.

"Please take seriously your responsibility to keep politics out of land use decisions. A few bad decisions can undermine the integrity of the commission, and the strength of Hartford’s land use regime as a whole," she wrote.

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August 12, 2020

Kudos and good luck Ms. Bronin!.. Hartford is fortunate to have had your vision and outreach.

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