BETHANY - The Planning and Zoning Commission wants to "feel the pulse of the public:"

How much industrial development in Bethany do residents want? Is the town's rural character adequately protected? How should senior housing needs be met - through town or private efforts or both? Should open space acquisition be high priority in town planning? What should Bethany look like in 10 years? 25 years?

Commission members are seeking comments and answers to such questions from interested residents. This will help the board in the state-mandated review-revision of the Town Plan of Conservation and Development.

The deadline is Friday, Jan. 30. Residents may comment in writing or e-mail. Copies of the plan are available for review at the PZC office in Town Hall, at the Clark Memorial Library and on the town website: www.bethany-ct.com.

The plan guides the board in many of the decisions it makes. "It defines the character of the town as we residents desire it to be," said John Gardner, chairman of the PZC Town Plan Review Subcommittee.

It also is the basis for the PZC's recommendations to the town for the adoption of zoning and subdivision regulations and to the selectmen for adoption of ordinances, he said.

Regulations and how they are enforced locally define the way the town meets the needs of residents and the accommodation and requirements it sets for developers, builders and businesses in Bethany, Gardner added.

The town cannot prepare for the future until residents decide what they would like the future to look like, the panel chairman said.

The PZC welcomes residents' imput. When the board has received all comments it can then decide what modifications and changes may be needed. A public hearing will ultimately be set on the proposed updated plan.

The current plan, which became effective five years ago, states that it represents the commission's best effort at developing planning goals for the town that define the townspeople's vision of its future and that the plan "respects the clear physical restraints on land use and development which exist in Bethany."

In the town-wide questionnaire that preceeded that plan, the 34 percent of residents who responded strongly indicated:

- The town should "protect scenic vistas and open space" and

- The loss of rural character was a problem which Bethany would need to address in the following five years.

Residents have until the end of January to comment on the plan. Speak up!