About Town — March 21, 2019
by MARGARET WIRTENBERG
Will your attendance make a difference at the Planning & Zoning
Commission’s upcoming “charrette” regarding the future of central
Weston? As you may already be aware this event will be held on
Saturday April 6th, starting at 10:30 a.m. in the Weston Intermediate
P&Z’s consultant for the Town Plan update, Milone & MacBroom,
will be participating. They will share their preliminary thinking
regarding the future of our Town Center, and engage in a collaborative
process with the public to refine these ideas.
The term “charrette” is French. In olden times École des
Beaux-Arts students in Paris would roll up their architectural drawings
in preparation for critiques and haul them about in carts. Those
carts in turn were named after the tumbrils used to deliver aristocracy
to the guillotine during the French Revolution of the late 1700s.
While some of the bills proposed in the State Legislature during the
current Session have struck me as a bit reminiscent of such
unpleasantness, albeit with the threatened parties being municipalities
like Weston rather than humans, let us put that aside for now.
If you care about Weston’s future you should try to attend the April 6th
charrette. Those who responded to the “Citizen Survey” late last year
and chose to include their names and e-mail addresses in their response
should already have received invitations.
Consider this column to be my invitation to the rest of the community to
attend, and participate in an open and shared discourse about the
future of the heart of Weston. But what exactly is the pulsating
heart of our community? You might consider this a trick question,
but really there are several ways to answer.
My own vision of a Town Plan update breaks the town into four
parts. One part is the north end of town, where temperatures
usually happen to be a bit colder. Another part is the Saugatuck
River Valley area (the “east side”). And then there are
neighborhoods in what I call “The Ring,” that filter traffic into the
center of town.
In seeking to define the fourth part, namely “the center of town,” as a
planner my first instinct is to reach for U.S. Census data. Not
the simplified data sets that address the Town of Weston as a whole, but
more detailed data indicating density.
2010 Census block data reveals how many people live in these micro
neighborhoods. And perhaps paradoxically it is the “block areas”
made up of individual blocks in the area of the School Road campus, in
the central part of town, which have lowest population density.
Density there being similar to what it is in the “block area” which
includes the Nature Conservancy! With only the Saugatuck Reservoir
itself being less densely developed!
Why would that be? Because relatively few Westonites reside in the
“block area” that includes the school campus. And this may be a
good starting point for some free flowing discussion.
Should “central Weston” be defined more broadly than it traditionally
has been? Might we consider the Town Center as encompassing areas
where infrastructure such as tertiary treatment facilities or common
wells exist? Or where impervious surface exceeds say ten percent
of the area of a lot?
Or should we take into consideration more ephemeral things?
Is the center of town a place that mirrors the words of a likeable song
from the 1960s that many will remember, namely “Downtown?” Where
one may go to meet others, or seek human contact. Where people
congregate for activities. “Where the lights are bright.”
In that regard, for me the “heart of town” has always been “The Lunch Box.”
And speaking of meeting, let’s do so at the Intermediate School
cafetorium at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 6th so we can figure it all
NOTE:“About Town” is also a television
program.It appears on Fridays from 5:30
to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 to 10:30 a.m. on Cablevision Channel 88
(Public Access).Or see it at www.aboutweston.com.
WE CONTRIBUTE THIS COLUMN TO WESTON-TODAY
What can About Weston website do to keep everyone
informed? Not ever intended as a "newspaper" but more like a
research source, we will continue our website research/ as background for the column.
About Weston now attends the three major boards/commissions we care about:
Board of Selectmen
Board of Finance
Planning & Zoning
We post this our "opinion" column online here every Thursday
WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY? HERE IS WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT "TOWN MEETINGS"...
7-3. Warning of town and other meetings. The warning of each town
meeting, and of each meeting of a city, borough, school district or
other public community or of an ecclesiastical society, shall specify
the objects for which such meeting is to be held. Notice of a town
meeting shall be given by posting, upon a signpost or other exterior
place near the office of the town clerk of such town and at such other
place or places as may be designated as hereinafter provided, a printed
or written warning signed by the selectmen, or a majority of them, and
by publishing a like warning in a newspaper published in such town or
having a circulation therein, such posting and such publication to be at
least five days previous to holding the meeting, including the day that
notice is given and any Sunday and any legal holiday which may
intervene between such posting and such publication and the day of
holding such meeting, but not including the day of holding such meeting;
but any town may, at an annual meeting, designate any other place or
places, in addition to the signpost or other exterior place, at which
such warnings shall be set up. The selectmen shall, on or before the day
of such meeting, cause a copy of each such warning to be left with the
town clerk, who shall record the same. Notice of a meeting of a city or
borough shall be given by posting, upon a signpost or other exterior
place nearest to the office of the clerk of such city or borough or at
such place or places as may be designated by special charter provision, a
written or printed warning signed by the mayor or clerk in the case of a
city or by the warden or clerk in the case of a borough, and by
publishing a like warning in a newspaper published within the limits of
such city or borough, or having a circulation therein,
at least five days previous to holding the meeting, including the day
that notice is given and any Sunday and any legal holiday which may
intervene between such posting and such publication and the day of
holding such meeting, but not including the day of holding such meeting.
WHY CAN'T AN ONLINE ONLY PUBLICATION BE AN OFFICIAL PUBLISHER OF PUBLIC NOTICES?
WHAT'S BLACK AND WHITE AND "READ" ALL OVER? ABOUT TOWN.
You will find our videos on YouTube, but we do not use "social media" -
formal communication: mailto:email@example.com
ARTIST'S IMPRESSION OF HOW THE NORFIELD OAK TREE LOOKS NOW AFTER MAKING IT SOMEWHAT SAFER FOR SCHOOL BUS.
WILL THE SCHOOL BUS STILL COME TO A STOP? ACTUALLY, IT SHOULD
WHETHER OR NOT THERE IS A CHILD GETTING ON OR OFF - JUST TO BE
Delivery trucks still must cross the yellow line (this was a truck from a
party-supply place); and on the right, coming down the hill
(westbound) the open wound of the missing mast.
INQUIRING MINDS WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF HIS POWERS EXTEND TO TRAFFIC CONTROL??? Answer: No, but the Police Commission/Police Chief is the last word. Planning Law case
- "Causby's Chickens" rule apply? (Chickens [The Tree] were there before the
airport [2016 traffic].) And don't forget the CT General Statutes ("C.G.A.") on the subject of Town Trees...
The Tree Warden states that it is in fine if not great shape but presents a traffic hazard - is it in his purview (link to C.G.A.) to order the removal of this tree for that reason? Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn't...he's in charge of the tree.
R E E W A R D E N P U B L I
C H E A R I N G A U G U S
T 5 , 1 9 9 8 IT AIN'T OVER 'TIL ITS OVER DEPARTMENT: OAK TREE ON NORFIELD ROAD THREATENED AGAIN?
For those who may remember, and for those who weren't around, including
the Town Administrator, who reported at the Board of Selectmen August
2016 that he had read the minutes of Tree Warden public hearing...About
Town spoke up about the matter (having attended all the meetings of the
Board of Selectmen since mid-1991).
Guess what! About Town has it (the Tree Warden Public Hearing) on
videotape (in our archives in the
basement). It is around one hour long and we just watched it - it is a
League of Women Voters of Weston Presents production. Below is a
"play-by-play" of the event - a "picture story" with the pictures being
screen shots! It had been broadcast on the Government Channel (not
run as a local channel then) as a public service from the League of
PUBLIC HEARINGBY TREE WARDENAUGUST 5, 1998
This was a Tree Warden Public Hearing August 5, 1998 in the Town Hall
Meeting Room. Jean Owens taking minutes. Jim Hoe (l) is the
Tree Warden. Public Works Director Joe Lametta ran the hearing,
calling on "yes" take the tree down group (above). P&Z had
tried to minimize curb cuts during subdivision process and come up with
this plan - which included a condition of approval that the tree be
taken down by the developer. Meanwhile, lawyer for the developer
reports two lots have already been sold. In addition, he points
out that the Town of Weston had turned down an offer to buy the
property. P&Z member sorry they couldn't find another way in
SIX LOT SUBDIVISION WITH WETLANDS AND STEEP SLOPES (SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW?).
Martha Gilson ("First Five" not shown) spoke first, another agreed, then a fellow who
loved the tree testified he
thought two stop signs would work. The next speaker (she is not shown) questioned
why they had to exit onto Norfield in the first place, and
another thought tree slowed people down! The runner proposed speed
bumps and stop signs (he had taken the time to do a time and motion study of a sort) measured the sight lines and couldn't see
any safe possibilities).
AH YES WHAT IS A TREE WORTH? Maybe he was abrupt, but he sure was spot on - destroy a 200 year
old tree for 6 building lots? Not, as we would say in the 21st
century, "The Weston Way." Next - why can't we find a way out?
Why? Most magnificent tree. Save the tree! The next
two speakers picked up on the question. "The tree is worth saving!" said one, and the other
wondered where we'd be if we didn't stand up for the natural environment and spare this tree.
SELECTMAN SHOWS WHY HE GETS ELECTED OVER AND OVER!
"Nobody ever complained before - all of a sudden this is an excuse to
take from the town our heritage" was a BIG applause line!!!
Another nail in the approved subdivision condition's future re: the tree...as this venerable
and always accurate voice stated it had never been a problem before...
AND THEN THE "CUT DOWN THAT TREE" SIDE CAME A CROPPER. OOPS! In response, the unwitting P&Z Chair announced that yes it had
been posted to be cut down a few years ago (no doubt testimony by the
applicant). Neighbor rises to report that it was CL&P who had it
posted, not the town, and implicitly we figure she got her way!!!
Then it was over (total @one hour).
Tree Warden repeats that there
will be a decision in three days. The tree is still standing as of August 2016,
but...Selectmen may be having second thoughts...
For reference, in addition to any other records, there are these "League
Lines" columns published in the FORUM that include references to this
very same tree:
"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink" - effort
to get a secret ballot - which was the precursor to the Referendum that
a Charter Revision Commission made more than a decade later... FROM THE LWV OF WESTON WEBSITE: SPECIAL TOWN MEETING, JAN. 9, 2003, WESTON HIGH SCHOOL AUDITORIUM, 8PM
AGENDA 1. Call to order - First Selectman/done - @8:15pm
2. Introduce Head Table - First Selectman/done
3. Nomination and election of Moderator - First Selectman.
Moderator assumes leadership of the balance of the meeting/done.
4. Appoint Parliamentarian (Susan Moch) and identify Registrars of Voters by name and official counters by name/done.
5. Read statutes re Qualifications of voters and penalties for fraudulent voting/done.
6. Segregate non-voters/done.
7. Note that Town Clerk Cynthia Williams is Clerk of the Meeting/Donna Anastasia, Ass't. Town Clerk in this position.
8. Get motion and vote to waive reading of Call/done.
9. Instruct Clerk to enter Call in the minutes of the Meeting/done.
10. Explain votes to be taken, methods of voting, and method of amendments/done.
a. All votes by voice except for the following:
i. If Moderator cannot determine the prevailing side - take immediate standing vote.
ii. If at least seven (7) voters immediately challenge the Moderator's call of the outcome - take immediate standing vote.
iii.If, prior to taking a vote on a motion on the floor, the Meeting
itself upon a motion duly made and seconded, votes to take the vote on
the pending motion by some other
means (i.e. paper ballot).
11. Explain the rules for addressing the meeting/done:
a. Get recognized by the Moderator.
b. Identify yourself by name and street
c. Address remarks or questions to Moderator; be as brief as
possible; don't simply repeat what others have said; avoid
d. Any issues outside the scope of the Call, or not germane to the motion at hand, will be ruled out of order. 12. Any questions about procedure?/LWV of Weston calls for paper ballot,
voice vote taken ("NO" prevails according to Moderator); LWV
Co-President calls for a division of
the house--gets many more than seven voters to join this motion -
standing count not close (precise number to come)--LWV request fails. 13. Brief remarks re First Resolution - First Selectman/done.
14. Discussion and vote/many speakers against, some for--voice vote called "YES"--challenged; standing count not close.
15. Brief remarks re Second Resolution - First Selectman/done.
16. Discussion and vote/speakers equally divided, voice vote "YES" overwhelming--no call for standing count.