Hartford’s planning and zoning commission held a hearing last night on the city’s plan for a $350 million project that would include a $60 million stadium for the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats, and emerged with a vote to recommend that the city council reject the project.
The commission raised a bunch of issues with the plan, but mostly wondered why it violates both the site’s existing zoning and the city’s own downtown development plan, which calls for a mixed-use district with small-scale entertainment venues, not a sports stadium:
“Nowhere in [the plan] does it say we need additional sports venues,” [commission chair Sara Bronin] said. “It envisions small-scale entertainment … It doesn’t envision another XL Center.”
Bronin pointed out that the city, during its 18 months of negotiations with the New Britain Rock Cats, the minor league team looking to relocate to Hartford, could have updated the plans for downtown north, but didn’t. She also said she was “quite disturbed” that the redevelopment agency had not weighed in on the project.
The council doesn’t have to follow the commission’s recommendation, but if nothing else, this will give more weight to those who want to slow down the project. (Councilmember Larry Deutsch also criticized the plan for not including any affordable housing.) Given all the remaining unanswered questions about the financing, among other things, slowing things down doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all.