September 20, 2019

Planning Subcommittee To Assess Essex Residents’ Views on Architectural Heritage

On June 8 & 9, the  Architectural Design Subcommittee of the Essex Planning Commission will hold focus groups for residents from the three villages to assess the Architectural Heritage of the Town of Essex.

In June 2009, the Essex Planning Commission created a subcommittee to study the need for architectural regulations for new construction and significant renovations in order to preserve Essex’s architectural character.  The Architectural Design Review Subcommittee is composed of representatives from the Planning Commission, the Zoning Commission, the Economic Development Commission, the Essex Historical Society, and other interested volunteers and is charged with the following mission:

  1. Determine the architectural heritage of the Town of Essex, including Essex village, Centerbrook, and Ivoryton;
  2. Determine if there has been a significant loss and/or potential for loss of this architectural heritage;
  3. Review what methods and resources have been successfully implemented in other similar communities to protect their architectural heritage; and
  4. Explore ideas and make recommendations and suggestions to the Planning Commission as to what methods and/or resources would be most appropriate and viable to protect the Town’s architectural heritage for existing and new construction in all zones in consultation with the general populace if it is found that there is significant loss and/or potential for loss.

The first three components of their mission statement has been completed. Through state grants, two studies (both available at Town Hall) were conducted, one by an architectural historian to survey architecturally significant areas in the three villages.  The other consulting firm catalogued options for preserving distinctive characteristics in our town.  As our next step, there will be three resident focus groups, one for each village, that will allow the committee to do two things:  share what information we have gathered and get input from members of the focus groups to bring to the public.

Residents have been randomly selected from official Town lists, and those who choose to participate will be part of a small focus group.  The group will be shown a brief power point presentation about the architectural heritage of the three villages and asked their opinion about possible planning options utilized by similar towns.  These meetings are scheduled for June 8 and 9. Time and place are available on the Essex town website: Members of the public may attend but will not be part of group comment.  In the fall, there will be a public meeting to show the presentation and to share the focus groups responses.

For any questions, please contact Neil Nichols, Chair, Architectural Design Subcommittee, 860-767-0249 or