Economic Development Soars Into Cyberspace


WINSTED - Winchester Planning and Development Director Charles Karno is promoting the town by starting an online blog that will give residents periodic updates on who's investing in the Laurel City.

Titled "Planning Notes," Karno's blog is accessible from the Planning and Development Department's Web site, The site includes links to the town's zoning regulations, current plan of development, land use applications and downtown revitalization programs.

Karno said Tuesday that he started Planning Notes Jan. 9.

"It's just sort of an amusement thing," he said. "There are lots of ways to communicate with people and this is something we're working on. I think it's designed to give a sense of what happens in the office. It's not to break news or focus on any major issues or topics."

In his first post, Karno said the idea of the blog is to make local government more user-friendly.

"Using technology to keep people informed, add to the 'transparency' of government and improve communications is important, and who knows, every once in a while we might post something interesting," he noted.

Karno said Monday night's Planning and Zoning Commission meeting included a presentation by American Mural Project founder Ellen Griesedieck of Sharon, who purchased an old mill building on Whiting Street to house her massive undertaking - a wall more than 45 feet tall and 120 feet long, paying tribute to American laborers. The entire project, 10 years in the making, will involve the restoration and renovation of the Whiting Street building into an interactive museum dedicated to the mural project.

"Ellen's presentation was probably the highlight of the meeting," Karno said of Griesedieck's report to the commission. "She's pretty dynamic."

The planning director said the next step for Griesedieck is to apply for a special permit to establish the use for the old mill site.

"Her presentation gave everybody an update to let them know this was coming and to see if there were any issues the commission could foresee."

Karno also said the fate of a planned slaughterhouse on Route 8 North has yet to be determined, as the developer has yet to fully review with Planning and Zoning regulations that would allow the slaughtering of animals on a controlled basis. An approval of the regulations will be required before an official application can be made.

The Planning and Development Department Web page also includes links to industrial and retail properties in town that are for sale, along with maps of Winsted's designated Enterprise Corridor Zone areas, which are eligible for tax incentives.

Karno acknowledged that most of the buzz surrounding planning and zoning concerns two proposed developments on the ridge between Route 800 and Highland Lake. The Highland Ridge project, a golf course and upscale housing development, has already been approved by Planning and Zoning, while a second project, Aurora Estates, will receive its first public hearing before the board on Monday, Jan. 28.

Karno said he wants to keep members of the public informed about the Aurora project, and the Web site will be a help.

"Web sites are only good if they are updated and we don't always have the time to keep them current," he said. "One of the things I'd like to do on the Aurora Estates project is put up as much information as we can."

There are links on the Planning and Development Web site for visitors to make comments and send e-mail directly to the office. For more information, visit

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