Expanding Live Entertainment

NEW MILFORD—Zoning Com­mission member Janice Vance wants the town to offer people in­door ice skating or in-line skating, miniature golf, live outdoor con­certs and theater, sporting events and other entertainment.

Not only would they benefit the economy by encouraging residents to spend their enter­tainment dollars locally, Vance said such ventures would bolster tourism. That is why she is backing a proposed amendment to the zoning regulations that would en­courage indoor and outdoor live entertainment complexes in the town’s business zone. The regula­tion would also allow for banquet facilities.

The changes are expected to be discussed at the commission’s July 29 meeting, but there is no set timetable to take a vote.

Vance said she wants to offer regulations that allow developers to brainstorm possibilities that will benefit the town as it grows. “I want to proactively put in uses that don’t exist today,” Vance said.

Other town and business lead­ers also favor this idea, but some balk at the coordinating proposal to delete from the regulations ad­ditional indoor movie theaters and assembly halls. As the town already has the Bank Street Movie Theater, and competitors within a short drive, Vance said she does not believe the town needs any more.

Another zoning regulation pro­posal offered a few months ago meant to limit additional theater competition failed. Mayor Patricia Murphy said she favors the new amend­ment as a progressive idea to enhance what the community has to offer its current and fu­ture residents and visitors.

“Live concerts would be fabulous,” Murphy said. “I appreciate the (summer) concerts on the green, but to have a large venue would certainly be something that would be enjoyed by every­one, I’m sure.”

She said the opportunity to offer places where people can attend a sporting event or a stage concert “sounds like fun.” And she is not opposed to limiting indoor theaters to the existing downtown Bank Street Theater or assembly halls to what already exist in town. The Planning Commission, however, disagreed with elim­inating indoor theaters and assembly halls even though they favor expanding the types of entertainment ven­ues that can be offered. In a unanimous vote, the commis­sion voted to endorse the pro­posed amendment but asked that those venues also include indoor theaters and assembly halls.

Arthur Howland Associates owner and engineer Paul Szymanski said he favors amending the regulations so his clients can consider new entertainment endeav­ors, and opposes the change that would prevent what they could do in the future. He said he believes the existing regulation and pro­posed amendment will stimu­late business growth that is compatible, rather than de­structive, to what currently exists.

But Szymanski said it is al­ways tough to remove some­thing from existing regula­tions because “it is hard to imagine the unintended con­sequences.”

By Nanci Hutson – News Times

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