Southbury comprises rural country areas, suburban neighborhoods, and historic districts. It is located a short distance from major business and commercial centers and is within of New York City and of Boston.
Southbury is the only town in the country with the name 'Southbury', which may be why the town seal reads "Unica Unaque," meaning "The One and Only."
South Britain and Southford are included in the incorporated township of Southbury.
The town of Southbury was one of several towns formed out of a parcel of land purchased from the Paugussett Indians in 1659. It was originally part of Woodbury, which was settled in 1673. A new meetinghouse for the Southbury Ecclesiastical Society was built in 1733, and in 1787 the town of Southbury was incorporated. Although incorporated as part of Litchfield County, Southbury has been in New Haven county for most of its existence.
In the 1800s, water power became essential to the growth of Southbury's industries, which included mills, tanneries, and distilleries. The water power came primarily from the Pomperaug and Housatonic rivers. As the industrial revolution progressed, many of these businesses left for Waterbury.
Southbury remained as a rural farming town for most of its history. However, with the development of the Eisenhower Interstate System, that changed. With the opening of I-84 through Southbury in or before 1963, Southbury gained easy access to New York and Hartford and improved its access to Danbury and Waterbury. Heritage Village opened in 1967, on a site. In 1987, IBM built an extensive office and research building in Southbury, employing over 2,500 workers. Southbury was no longer a small rural farming town. Today, Southbury has approximately 17% open space, with a goal of 20%.
In the early 1990s, Southbury was the subject of a lawsuit by the Golden Hill Paugusett Indian tribe. The 100-member tribe sought to take the land of roughly 1,200 property holders in the town. The lawsuit was thrown out in 1993 based on the fact that the man who brought the suit was not a chieftain, contrary to his claims, and had no standing to bring the suit.
There were 7,225 households out of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.8% were married couples living together, 5.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.1% were non-families. 29.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 21.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.02.
In the town the population was spread out with 22.8% under the age of 18, 3.3% from 18 to 24, 22.7% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 26.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 86.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.3 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $61,919, and the median income for a family was $81,109. Males had a median income of $62,460 versus $40,750 for females. The per capita income for the town was $32,545. About 1.9% of families and 4.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.3% of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over. The median home value was $209,100.
As of July 2006, it is estimated that there are 19,686 (+6.0% from 2000) people in Southbury. The estimated median income has risen to $68,000 (+9.8%). The estimated median home & condo value has risen to $338,100 (+61.7%).
|Historical population of Southbury|
Southbury is home to a variety of retirement facilities, including Heritage Village, New England's largest retirement community. Heritage Village sits on and includes approximately 2,580 homes and 4,000 people. It is billed as being an "active retirement" community, offering many activities. Heritage Village was planned starting in the 60's, as the Eisenhower Interstate System connected rural Southbury to the surrounding areas for the first time. One must be 55 years of age or older to live in Heritage Village.
Due to places such as this, by 2013 30% of the population of Southbury will be over 60. By 2020, 40% will be. Southbury has developed a 3-phase plan to increase elder services. As part of this, the old Southbury library has recently been converted into a new senior center, in addition to being the new home of the Parks & Recreations Department.
Besides the "active living" area of Heritage Village, Southbury also contains several "assisted living facilities" including:
Southbury has a six-member Board of Selectmen, including the First Selectman, Mark A. Cooper. The rest of the Board of Selectmen consists of:
More members of the government of the town:
Southbury used mechanical voting machines until 2007, at which point it switched to optical scanning machines. These have received complaints for several reasons, including privacy.
Southbury utilizes up to 5 polling stations. During most votes, only one, the firehouse, is used.
Consistent with Connecticut law, citizens have the option but not the requirement of choosing a party when they register to vote. Parties can be changed or joined later. Only party members may vote in a party's primary. For the 2008 primaries, a party may be joined until February 4, the day before the February 5 primary.
In 2004, Southbury voted for the incumbent Republican President George W. Bush. With 11,523 votes cast for the top 5 candidates, 57% voted for President Bush and 42% for Democrat John F. Kerry. Southbury further voted for the incumbent senior Senator Christopher Dodd with 51% of the vote and incumbent Republican Congresswoman Nancy Johnson with 63% of the vote.
In 2006, Nancy Johnson was ousted in favor of Democratic Congressman Christopher Murphy, who won Southbury with 51% of the vote over 49% for Johnson. Junior Senator Joseph Lieberman dropped his Democratic party affiliation, but remained in office, winning Southbury with 57% of the vote to his nearest challenger, Democrat Ned Lamont, who had only 32% in Southbury.
U.S. Senators: Joseph Lieberman, Christopher Dodd
U.S. Congressman: Christopher Murphy
State Senator: Robert Kane
State Representatives: Arthur J. O'Neill
Southbury is part of the Pomperaug Regional School District 15 school system, which includes only itself and Middlebury, CT. The system contains five elementary, two middle and one high school. Both middle schools are national blue ribbon schools.
There has long been a "battle" going between the two towns over the amount each pays towards the system. Southbury is considerably larger than Middlebury, with considerably more tax base. This has resulted in Southbury taking up the vast majority of the school system, yet because of the substantial tax base in Southbury, each resident pays less per student.
Schools physically located in Southbury include:
Students from Region 15 also have the option to attend:
The Southbury Parks & Recreations Department moved into the old Southbury Library in 2007. Southbury town sports include:
Controversy has arisen over town sports since the Parks & Rec department began enforcing a policy banning out-of-town players from participating in town-sanctioned sports in 2006. This policy stems from the fact of overcrowding at town fields, a problem which is plaguing Southbury.
Only a small area of Southbury is covered by water or sewer systems, with the vast majority left to wells & septic. Southbury is generally concerned with its water table, to the point where the only car wash in town is required to recycle all of their water used, an expensive process.
The town water provider is Aquarion. The gas provider is Yankee Gas Company. The cable (TV, internet, and soon, phone) provider is Charter Communications. The electric provider is Connecticut Light & Power (a Northeast Utilities Company). The phone provider (POTS & DSL) is AT&T.
Planning for the library began in 1998, with an original projected bond issue of $7.35m. The planning committee solicited donations from the public, which resulted in two single donations of $100,000 or more, and five more of between $25,000 and $99,000, in addition to smaller donations.
The old library building, at 561 Main Street South, has been converted to hold offices for the Parks and Recreation department, as well as a new senior center. The old library was built in 1969, and expanded in 1979.
The oldest library building was located in South Britain (a section and Historic District of Southbury) and was replaced in 1969. It was built in 1904 and contained approximately 1,000 volumes.
The Shepaug Dam on the Housatonic River is part of a hydroelectric power plant, operated by FirstLight Power Resources, capable of a peak power output of 42,600 kW. This dam is a popular nesting and feeding ground for wintering eagles and hawks, including the Bald Eagle. Near the power station, FirstLight also operates an eagle observation area first opened by the utility's predecessor, Northeast Utilities, in the mid-1980s. Access is free, and some telescopes are provided. Utility company employees and volunteers from the Connecticut Audobon Society and other groups are at the observation area to assist visitors. Advanced reservations are required. Eagles are attracted to the spot because the water churning through the dam's hydroelectric turbine keeps the surface from icing over, allowing the birds to fish. Red-tailed hawks, goshawks, great blue herons and other waterfowl are also attracted to the spot. The dam flooded an area now known as Lake Lillinonah.
FirstLight Power Resources has submitted a plan to the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control to build a new peak-power plant next to the existing hydroelectric facility.
By far the largest corporate complex in Southbury is that of IBM. IBM located its facilities on between Kettletown Road and Bullet Hill Road, up a hill from Main Street Southbury on a site. Access to the site is restricted to authorized personnel only. Its original design and construction allowed for of office space, intended for 2,500 people (later increased as around the clock operations began). It also had of "raised floor" data center space, originally designed for large-scale water-cooled mainframe operations. It is an "off the grid" facility, with its power plant taking advantage of jet turbine technology to generate power for the entire site. In 2006, this power plant was replaced with a larger one as power demands increased. IBM Southbury was originally designed to be one of IBM's new corporate headquarters buildings, as IBM's "North Castle" facility in Armonk became outdated. It was never used for this purpose, and has been primarily used as an IBM Global Services facility. There are four buildings, labeled A, B, C, and Central Services. Due to decreasing demand for office space, building A is currently shut down.
Southbury Corporate Park is a largely theoretical site between I-84 exits 13 and 14. It is approved for roughly of zone R60-C compliant corporate offices. The town purchased the site for a total of $5 million. It is designed to attract large corporate partners, or at worst, non-"big box" retailers. An arts center has also been proposed for the site, though this proposal was later revoked in favor of a possible location inside the Southbury Training School.
Southbury is home to a significant amount of retail space, primarily consolidated into one of several plazas, and entirely concentrated around Main Street South:
Southbury is home to two major hotels.
The Southbury Ambulance Association was started as a volunteer organization in 1953 by the Southbury Lions Club, handling both Southbury and Woodbury. The SAA had some of the first EMT's in the state in the 1970s. Until 1978, only SLC members were allowed to join the SAA, which caused difficulties in finding sufficient crew for the ambulance service. As of 1997, the SAA was responding to more than 1,500 service calls a year. Today, the SAA still operates as a volunteer organization which receives zero funding from the town. It currently operates three ambulances.
The Southbury Land Trust is a "private nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of Southbury Connecticut's natural resources for the enjoyment and benefit of all present and future generations." Basically, the SLT purchases or is gifted with land which it places development restrictions on. They currently control more than of land in Southbury. Much of this land is open to the public.
David Pollitt is a convicted serial rapist who had moved into his sister's home in a Southbury neighborhood in October 2007 which was met with heavy protest. A state judge in New London rejected a request by state officials to have Pollitt placed somewhere else, such as an inpatient treatment center. Judge Susan Handy said Pollitt has paid his debt to society. Neighbors however held several protests and town-wide meetings to discuss this event. Many were disgusted that a convicted rapist could move into their quiet neighborhood on Fox Run Road , despite that Pollitt was put under house arrest and electronic monitoring. Neighbors concerns included the fact that during his nearly 25 years in prison, David Pollitt refused all offers for rehabilitation therapy. Pollitt's teenage nieces, who would be living in the same house upon his release, represented the lone voices defending him. As part of the terms of his probation, Pollitt has to wear a global positioning satellite tracking device and register as a sex offender. One interesting fact is that five other convicted sex offenders live in Southbury yet residents have not protested their status in town. However, it was the severity and repetitive nature of David Pollitt's crimes which created the issue. David Pollitt's serial rape convictions is tied with only by one other sex offender in the state of Connecticut.
Due to the uproar over Mr. Pollitt, lawmakers have introduced a bill which would mandate that halfway housing be available for sex offenders on parole or probation. Southbury has received some criticism as well as praise for its reaction to Mr. Pollitt.
In February 2008 Mr. Pollitt's neighbors approached the town's tax appeals board demanding a tax cut, claiming their home values have dropped since the presence of Mr. Pollitt. As of right now the head of the board has not made a final decision.
In November 1937 residents of the farming outpost got word that a man by the name of Wolfgang Jung had purchased in the town. Residents quickly looked into his plans and discovered that he was a member of the German-American Bund, an organization of ethnic Germans living in the United States who supported Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Its leader, Fritz Kuhn, was considered the leading anti-Semite in the country. Word soon got out that they were in fact planning to build their largest training facility in the country. Residents objected by calling a town meeting and set up a zoning department with one simple rule, no military activity excluding the United States army. The law was adopted December 14 and the Bund stopped work and eventually sold the land.