Goldberg Wanted to Better Rocky Hill Through Zoning Regulations

Former Planning and Zoning Commission chairman helped to put an end to multi-family housing in town.


Barry Goldberg has been serving the town of Rocky Hill for 40 years and during that time, he has tried to better the community every step of the way.

After finishing high school in '70s, Goldberg became involved in town politics and met former state Rep. Richard Tulisano, who became one of his mentors. He would put Goldberg on the Democratic Town Committee.

Goldberg was appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals where he served for 10 years. His time on the ZBA introduced him to the world of zoning.

"The whole purpose of the ZBA is to grant relief in the regulations," Goldberg said.

After seeing several cases of people who would be better served by improvements to the regulations, Goldberg met with the town planner at the time.

"The planner was not acceptable to me making regulations," he stated.

So, Goldberg studied regulations and even drafted some of his own. However, the planner still did not work with him.

After his time on the ZBA, Goldberg was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission and would serve two "extended terms" on the board. He was chairman both times and served 24 years on the commission.

"That's where I knew I could really start making significant changes," Goldberg explained. "And make it where we really had a quality town."

During his first term, Goldberg served with councilors Philip J. Sylvestro and Barbara Orsini Surwilo.

"Barry has been invaluable to this town. Many people will not realize he has been fundamental on three plans of development," Surwillo stated at the Town Council meeting on Tuesday night.

Goldberg was not appointed to any committees this term.

"I feel we owe Barry a debit of gratitude," Surwillo exclaimed.

Goldberg enjoyed his first tenure on the commission and gained a great deal of knowledge from his mentor, University of Connecticut Law Professor Terry Tondro.

"He was really a major influence in my life in regard to zoning," Goldberg said about his mentor.

Goldberg also learned a lot from Town Planner Sam Pine who "understood zoning and how it would apply to a community."

"They were community advocates for the betterment of the community," Goldberg said about his mentors. "It wasn't focused on business, but the quality of life. I took that tone and message back. That's what I wanted to do."

Goldberg is most proud of eradicating multi-family housing in town. During the 1980s, multi-family housing was "growing too fast" and had overwhelmed the community, he said. Goldberg felt that the town did not have the vital infrastructure, such as fire, police and schools, to handle the possible incoming growth.

Following public hearings, the commission got rid of the three multi-family housing zones and changed them to residential, Goldberg stated. 

"We made all multi-family zones non-conforming," he said. "I felt that we would have an uprising in the community. And surprisingly nothing happened. People could not thank us enough."

In the 1980s, a developer tried to bring upscale malls to town, however after two days of hearings the commission voted against it.

"In hindsight that may have not been the right decision," Goldberg said. "We made the right decision that we thought at that time."

After the Republicans won the election, he was moved to the Inland Wetlands Commission for six years.

"It was interesting," Goldberg stated.

When Democrats got the office back, he was appointed to Planning and Zoning Commission. However, his second term was "a little daunting" because the group was not focused and organized, Goldberg explained.

"It is almost as if they are looking into a direction that isn't in step with the plan of conservation and development," he said. "We haven't been doing what we are supposed to be doing in one sense and that is looking toward the future."

He would have preferred the commission develop the water front district, review the traffic pattern for the west end of town and plan for the industrial park along with preparing another plan of conservation and development.

"There is a lot of things that we should be spending our time with," he explained.

However, the commission did rewrite the plan of conservation and development, which is "really good," according to Goldberg. The plan should be reviewed each year, he added.

Goldberg has formed Regulatory Land Use Consulting LLC where he will help residents through the zoning process.

"And my rates are very affordable," he proclaimed. "So I can still give back to the community."

Joseph Wenzel IV January 23, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Multi-family zones were made non-conforming, not non-confirming. We apologize about the mistake.
William MacDonald January 24, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Barry will be missed by many and he was a true asset to the Town. He never played politics and always put the residents of Rocky Hill first.
Jaclyn Farnham January 25, 2012 at 04:23 AM
Regarding recent history - He did not do the right thing when he voted to develop the West Street parcel of Elm Ridge Park. Fortunately citizens rose up and defeated that horrible decision. Good intent was meant, but the decision was made without any regard for the neighborhood or the intent of the regulations under a special permit application. Then he stepped up and did the right thing with Winstanley's special permit application on Brook Street at the end of 2011. In this Town, however, if you go against what the Town Manager wants, you pay for it. Even with all his experience and devotion to this Town, he was not invited back on the Commission. Go figure! That said, citizens who don't like what is going on in Town Zoning, this would be the man to hire -- you want him on YOUR team.


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