West Hartford Zoning: Report to the Zoning Commission on the Zoning of West Hartford

In 1854 West Hartford established itself as its own independent town housing less than 1,200 residents, and by the early 1920’s the town had gone from a farming community to a suburb where people came to get away from the overcrowded area of Hartford and were “attracted to the comfort and beauty” (8) that the open space had provided.  “West Hartford Zoning: Report to the Zoning Commission on the Zoning of West Hartford” is a document written in 1924, which allows us to understand the reasoning and guidelines for the process of zoning.  Robert Whitten allows us to understand the process of zoning and what regulations and aspects go into the creation of zoning a specific area.

The purpose of zoning is to help create a uniform, neat, upscale community.  It serves to eliminate trash, and ensure a sense of comfort, health, and happiness in an attempt to build an ascending city.  Essentially, in order to get an area zoned there must be a proposal which contains reasoning, supporting evidence, and a site map.  For this article in particular, it focuses on the importance of zoning in West Hartford.  It also allows us to understand the mindset and powers the Commissioners had.

One big proponent is that West Hartford must serve as a home for many classes of workers who will be commuting into the city of Hartford.  Transportation is taken care of for the most part in this area and with that being said, there should be no traffic or congestion of people.  The article mentions that many people moved to West Hartford from Hartford because the land and space is very desirable.  They were in search for a less hectic city with less chaos.   In order to make sure it remains that way, zoning must take place.  Rules on building size, type, materials used, etc., will assist in bringing the city to its largest potential.  West Hartford was to be divided into three sections, residential, business, industrial.  Within the residential areas no business can occur.  Places like schools, churches, and houses are permitted.  Within the residential area itself there are sub divisions such as single and triple family homes.  In the business area of town establishments such as restaurants, office buildings, shops, and malls are permitted.  Rules included are building lines and front yard restrictions, side and rear yard restrictions, percentage of lot occupancy, height of buildings restrictions, and a few other personal restrictions.  All these restrictions and laws are put in place in order to keep West Hartford safe and are meant to keep it an ideal place to raise a family.

Other Sources:

“Land Use Without Zoning” by Bernard Siegan.  We found this source by using the key word “zoning” on Trincoll.worldcat.org.

“Zoning of Planned Residental Developments” by Eli Godlston and James Scheuer.  We found this source by searching “Zoning” and “Hartford” in the JSTOR search bar.

“Density Zoning And Class Segregation In U.S. Metropolitan Areas” by Jonathon Rothwell and Douglas Massey. We found this source by searching the “Zoning” and “Segregation”  America: History & Life.

Discussion Questions:

1)   Why would it be important to put a time limit on renovating older homes?  Is it possible for people to take advantage of parts of the restrictions?

2)   Do you think zoning ultimately helped equalize the community or did it do more harm than good?  And why?

3)   After doing research and learning Robert Whitten was a white male in the 1920’s do you think the African Americans living in the area were encouraged to leave?  Do you think everyone was in favor of zoning?

Goldston, Eli, and James H. Scheuer. “Zoning of Planned Residential Developments.” JSTOR. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2013.

Rothwell, Jonathan T., and Douglas S. Massey. “Density Zoning And Class Segregation In U.S. Metropolitan Areas ” Social Science Quarterly (Wiley-Blackwell) 91.5 (2010): 1123-1143. America: History & Life. Web. 14 Sept. 2013.

Siegan, Bernard H. Land Use without Zoning. Lexington, MA: Lexington, 1972. Print.

Whitten, Robert Harvey. West Hartford Zoning. Report to the Zoning Commission on the Zoning of West Hartford,. West Hartford, CT: Zoning Commission, 1924. 6+. Web.

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One Response to West Hartford Zoning: Report to the Zoning Commission on the Zoning of West Hartford

  1. As we discussed in seminar, it’s very important to recognize how the 1924 zoning proposal had some very positive motivations (which you identified above) and others that are much more controversial (such as restricting neighborhoods by wealth, which you did not identify).
    Also, for the bibliography portion of this exercise, note that this is an incomplete citation, since it does not tell me the name of the publication in which it appeared:
    Goldston, Eli, and James H. Scheuer. “Zoning of Planned Residential Developments.” JSTOR. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2013.
    If you’re using a citation tool like Zotero, you’re responsible for making sure that it captures all of the essential info, or you need to enter it manually.

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