Crafted by NVCOG staff, each installment of the the “Community Conversations” spotlight serves as a community-driven article. In these sessions, staff engage with a specific community to explore various topics of their choosing. 

Written by Heidy Coronel, Communications Associate
Informational poster on Bartlem Park South fence: “What’s up with this? Improvements in the works!”

Cheshire’s Remarkable Journey

Cheshire, Connecticut, nestled in the Naugatuck Valley Planning Region, stands as an extraordinary exemplar of proactive development and community engagement. Our recent exploration alongside Mike Glidden, Cheshire’s Town Planner, offered a firsthand glimpse into the remarkable developments transforming this community.

Cheshire’s success hinges on two pivotal themes: placemaking and relationship building. The Town’s emphasis on creating a vibrant, attractive community, bolstered by excellent amenities and an exceptional school system, lures families and professionals alike. Proactive planning, community-wide investment, and a culture of relationship building has spurred development, bringing positive dividends to the Town.

Growth Story

Cheshire’s evolution over the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable. This includes the addition of 700 apartments, several of which carry deed restrictions, alongside the construction of 500 new single-family homes. Furthermore, a modernization project led to the establishment of two new schools. A standout feature of this growth story is the Bartlem Park South Project, anticipated to be completed in fall 2024, which includes an amphitheater, walking areas, passive recreation spaces, and high-quality fields for both residents and visitors. Innovative signages, equipped with QR codes, reflect Cheshire’s commitment to keeping citizens informed about their community.

What becomes abundantly clear in Cheshire’s development landscape is the high demand across various land use types, spanning industrial, commercial, residential, and municipal sectors. This demand is a testament to the town’s growing allure and potential for prosperous development.

Placemaking and Relationship Building

Cheshire demonstrates a commitment to placemaking, understanding that communities that invest in their image attract interest from various sectors. This commitment entails meticulous consideration of a project’s appearance from the pedestrian perspective and strategies to enhance public interaction with developments.

The remarkable achievements in Cheshire’s development efforts are undeniably a result of a collaborative effort. Mike Glidden, Town Planner, identified key stakeholders, such as a supportive Town Council, dedicated commissioners, engaged community members, Sean Kimball, the Town Manager, Andrew Martelli, the Coordinator of Economic Development & Grant Writing, and committed volunteers. Their synchronized collaboration is a testament to the significance of unity in community-driven development. Effective inter-departmental coordination has been pivotal to Cheshire’s successful initiatives.

Cheshire’s exceptional growth and community-driven development are emblematic of the power of synergy, forward-thinking planning, and active community participation. The experiences and insights derived from Cheshire’s journey are valuable for communities aspiring to mold their future. By the end of the tour, we were reminded that the phrase “It takes a village” holds true, especially in the context of progress-driven planning.

Mike Glidden, Cheshire Town Planner stands in front of the Cheshire Town Hall

Mike Glidden – The Town Planner

Mike Glidden, Cheshire’s Town Planner, is instrumental in the town’s development journey. His commitment to community involvement and relationship building has fostered effective planning and has cultivated an environment where developers want to invest. Mike’s approachability, open-door policy, and resilience are assets in this intricate role.

Mike also expressed deep respect and admiration for the town’s former Town Planner, Bill Voelker, AICP, who laid the groundwork for many of the master plans currently coming to fruition. Bill’s philosophy, “It’s their town; I’m just visiting,” reflects the fundamental principle of community-driven development and engagement.

Approachability and Community Knowledge

Mike emphasizes the essential qualities of approachability and judicious decision-making. Mike actively engages in comprehending individuals’ property goals, expertly navigating the delicate balance between personal desires and community regulations. While the best solutions create developments that meet the community’s and developer’s needs, Mike acknowledges that a planner’s role includes knowing when to say “no”, a practice that saves valuable time for all stakeholders involved. Deep familiarity with the community and a commitment to treating all individuals equally are at the core of effective planning.

Cheshire is distinguished by its proactive approach to planning, evident in their initiative to update the Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) prior to their 2026 requirement.  Mike recognized the present development interests across sectors and the dynamic needs of the Town as the driving force behind the early plan update. He emphasized that this approach was made achievable through the collaborative support of the Town Council, and the Planning and Zoning Commission, illustrating how the Town’s joint efforts contribute to enhanced planning.  

A notable success story in Cheshire is the West Main Street project, marked by extensive community engagement. Over 100 individuals attended a community meeting, underscoring the community’s active participation in the development process. The town utilized a range of communication channels, including mailers, a dedicated website, and strategic use of social media.

Mike Glidden engages in conversation with Savannah-Nicole Villalba, AICP, AZT, Community Planning Director at NVCOG.

Cheshire’s Unique Essence

Cheshire, CT offers an insightful example of what can be achieved through proactive development, community engagement, and effective planning. This picturesque town is living proof that, through collaboration and unity, communities can reach new heights while preserving their unique charm. Cheshire’s remarkable journey serves as an inspiration for municipalities far and wide.

Stay Connected

Contact the Cheshire Planning and Development Department located at 84 South Main Street Cheshire, CT 06410. Telephone: 203 271-6670 Fax: 203 271-6688

Sean Kimball, Town Manager

Mike Glidden, Town Planner

Andrew Martelli, Coordinator of Economic Development & Grant Writing

Learn more about Cheshire’s municipal initiatives on the town’s official website.

Explore a range of valuable resources and NVCOG projects on the Cheshire NVCOG web page.