Please note that this page, similar to all other parts of this website, is to be considered unofficial information, and does not reflect anyone's opinion but "About Weston"

A F T E R   M A N Y    Y E A R S ,   T H E R E   I S    A C T I O N   -   A N D    A   N E W    P A G E . . .   N E W    I D E A S   T A K E    S E E D    H E R E    F O R   L A C H A T


Back barns at Lachat (l) and upper field, which was proposed for Conservation-Education Center parkingl.  The Lachat Homestead, yellow tape period...

Through the years we have followed Lachat - photo of lower field taken around the time of the first Committee (l) with an environmental assessment done during the "charrette" phase of Education Center idea.  In-between the present "L.O.C." (July 2012) and the Conservation/Education Center earlier, there was another Committee, which ultimately involved Selectmen brokering a new legal arrangement between the Nature Conservancy and the Town of Weston (January 2012)  Got all that straight?

Special Meeting  Thursday April 17, 2014 at 6pm, Town Hall, Lachat Oversight
With a quorum present the Committee went over plans for reading Lachat for raised beds this season.  Plans for May 3, 10am to 4pm construction of raised beds under way!  Volunteers by groups and individuals to show up for a farm raising - we have the barns already!


May 31 overnight snow in Weston;  Special Meeting of Lachat Commmittee makes plans for farming this spring!

Special Monday, March 31, 2014, 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room
Conservation approved the plans including crossings, parking and location of planting area plus the understanding there would be ample buffer plantings at its March 20th meeting, with Land Tech presenting.  Selectman Tracey offered procedure for how organization should proceed - Town Committee, Advisory Committee to main Committee and Friends of Lachat PLUS "Mission Statement" and terms of office, etc. and Town control of budget via have Town staff assigned.  Plus minutes taken (and notices posted).

Discussion of moving ahead for Spring planting at Special Meeting on Monday, as future structure of various operating groups discussed - Town Committee membership of active doers, Advisory Committee of specialists (membership may change as needs change) to Town Committee, and "Friends" of Lachat 501c3 arm.

Tuesday's Lachet Joint Meeting with Selectmen went well.  The L.O.C. is committed to public participation - hats off to them!!!

The watercolor at the right is "About Town" watercolor done as part of a series of watercolors about this latest phase of planning for use of the Lachat Homestead and Farm.  The plan from Land Tech was presented to the Board of Selectmen at its Feb. 6, 2014 meeting and approved...onward to Conservation and P&Z!!!

Report on Lachat Oversight Committee, January 7, 2014, after Special Board of Selectmen
First meeting of 2014 - plans in place to get to Conservation and P&Z before planting season;  animals lining up to live in one of the barns...and fund raising continues...

Lachat Oversight Committee Monthly Meeting
Town Hall Meeting Room - 7:30 pm
Tuesday,  January 7, 2014

A.  Approval of Minutes/done
B.   Restoration of the house progress/in progress even though it is so cold.
C.   Discussion of meeting with Land Tech (meeting was for information for the Ct Dept. of  Ag Viability Grant) and progress to date/done
D.   Discuss Youth Services meeting with Michelle Albright/done.
E.   Discuss job descriptions for farmer/director, etc./done
F.   Fund Raising 
        1.   Update on fund raising/done
        2.   Discuss potential fundraising committees and events/briefly noted
G.   Discuss signs/done
        1.  Discuss Will Lewis, sign maker
        2.   Discuss design and timing
H.   New Business
       1.  Website of progress for Lachat – find someone to design and implement/high schoolstudent?
       2.   Other new business

I.   Public participation as required.

Lachat Oversight Committee Monthly Meeting
Town Hall Meeting Room 7:30 pm
Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A. Discussion on Fund Raising and progress on farmhouse
1. Update on fund raising
2. Discuss potential fundraising committees and events
B. Discussion of Viability Grant
1. Land Tech providing a more complete time line by Dec. 6th
2. Michelle Fracasso - update - discuss any help needed and set up meetings.
C. Sign discussion composition of sign etc. show Carol’s pictures
1. Discuss Will Lewis, sign maker
2. Discuss design and timing
D. New Business
1. Website of progress for Lachat – find someone to design and implement
2. Discuss having a Special meeting if needed
3. Discuss publicity and articles to be written and when
E. Public participation as required

Abbreviated Agenda - "About Town" will not be able to attend.
Lachat Oversight Committee Monthly Meeting
Town Hall Meeting Room - 7:30 pm
Tuesday,  November 5, 2013

A.  Gayle Weinstein from 7:30pm to 8:00pm
         1.  Questions from Committee  - future committees, boards, etc.
         2.  Can we plant in the Spring – community gardens in the spring?
         3.  Discuss setting up a special meeting with Dept. heads

B.   Robert Hatch – discuss progress on house
C.   Fund Raising   
D.   Sign – composition of sign, etc.
        1.  Discuss Will Lewis, sign maker
        2.   Discuss design and timing

Board of Selectmen Oct. 17, 2013
Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 meeting of the Board of Selectmen saw a unanimolus vote to retain architectural supervision (not the exact word) for next phase of work on homestead.  The work itself was approved at a previous Board of Selectmen's meeting.

Town Hall Meeting Room
Oct. 1, 2013

Vote to retain Land Tech, who can get the work together for presentation to Conservation quickly and at least cost - recommended to Board of Selectmen.  To obtain the maps and info for Land Tect so that they have all data re:  historic designation as part of their presentation to Conservation.  Determination of the Plan that will be presented to P&Z as a special permit application, and the requirements for parking, setbacks,  intensity of use and safety considerations/Fire Department requirements to be developed.

Also, recommendation to retain (this website's terms - check minutes for actual title) "clerk of the works" to be sure all work on historic homestead is done correctly so that the town will not be left holding the bag for the cost if not done correctly according to historic rehab grant.

Fundraising for future projects to begin now that historic designation achieved - the sooner the funds come in, the sooner the porch can be repaired!

NORFIELD GRANGE FAIR 2014 - we arrived as the sun was rising, sort of.
  Will the "Masked Avenger" show in 2014?
What a gorgeous day for...a pony ride.  Or how about a contest?  Or having a lovely time in the sunshine?  How about these flags!

2014 we came at farmer-time, almost.  Bijoux department all set up first!!!  Labs came in second with natural dog biscuits!

Vegetables and fruits eliminated in the preliminary rounds...

Good thing I was working or I would have dropped a bundle here!!!

Wait 'til next year for squashed squash - melons to enter in the vegetable class next year as part of a Global Strategy!

See you next Grange Fair!!!



Check out powerful performance here

And what do you know!  Planning and Zoning looking to replace the rights of those who grow produce on their properties in Weston to sell them there, mistakenly removed at one time ???  Farmer power!!!.

Lachat Oversight Committee meets with engineer, Tuesday, August 6, 2013 and do other business.


LACHAT FARM PUBLIC INFORMATION SESSION #1 - a dozen Westonites show up including some new to the issue!  Session #2 at right - new interest shown!
SAVE THE DATE:  Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 7:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room - Session #2 drew almost as many, and very good discussions after the presentations.

Also, take a visit to Friends of Lachat other pix here.


World-wide freshwater on the left, India 1970-1994 groundwater -related to CT Drought report?
Interesting for those considering farming projects (LWVCT ED FUND "S.I.R.") - shallow well the way to go for Lachat, my conclusion!  This whole meeting will be available on DVD for use by the Lachat Committee in conjunction with LWV of Weston for use in Sustainability discussions, too!  A trifecta!

Full presentation at Selectmen

Presentation to Board of Selectmen May, 16, 2013 went a mattter of fact two (2) wells - shallow ones - will be needed to support planting plan.
Plans to present powerpoint, maps, photos to the public for their review - with information made available prior to the meeting (s) desired by Selectmen.  Selectmen very eager to have Committee inform the public of what is being proposed so far - so that the public can react after thinking about it, also to get a good turnout at two yet unscheduled meetings - during the week at night and on Satuday afternoon.

A quorum was present to review Committee presentation for Selectmen's Meeting Thursday..

The Committee held a special meeting, a quorum being present, and approved the previous meeting's minutes.  Discussed were ideas for coordinating the various volunteer efforts of support and preparing a Master Plan for the Selectmen to bring to P&Z (my observations).  Outstanding items for research related to Conservation issues also discussed.

Lachat Oversight Committee preps Selectmen on 
April 4, 2013 on
their ideas for a plan for Lachat, short, medium and long range.  Spreadsheet on Town website"About Town" offers this unofficial outline of how the spreadsheet works:

MISSION STATEMENT:  Lachat Farm at the Juliana Lachat Preserve offers farming and environmental education experiences for all ages, community-building opportunities and an important connection with and enjoyment of our land that fosters a happier, healthier, more "grounded" and sustainability-centered Weston.



PHASE ONE:  First and second year.
PHASE TWO:  Six to nine months

NOTE:  No Town of Weston funds to be requested other than what sources are already in place.

Question at Speak Up asks what is going on at Lachat these days...

Lachat Farm blooms? What must come off, or out, as the case may be (additions removed;  mowing field and vines)?  2004 plan;  P&Z didn't want this;  have any (examples of) parking standards?

Meeting of January 8, 2013, Commission Room at Town Hall

Good, long meeting (2 and one half hours) with Green Village Initiative plus architect of historic preservation plan for Lachat Homestead.   Vote to ask for heaters for basement and first story to keep out mold formation;  discussion of revising initial parking plan to accomodate farming activity;  work completed on lolly columns in basement.

NYC Dept. of City Planning - is Lachat in this ballpark?
Lachat committee report to Selectmen
Board of Selectmen notes, "About Town"
Nov. 20, 2012

At the Special Board of Selectmen's meeting Nov. 19, 2012, First Selectman Weinstein reported on the meeting just held with the Lachat Oversight Committee, their architect, and the P&Z re:  what does that body want in the way of a plan for the overall project? 

No detail about parking requirements revealed.  However, we figure that there should not be a probem if the scale of the new Lachat project stays put on the 18 acres of the Town's part of the property.  A question had been asked about peeople entering the Den through Lachat.  POTENTIALLY SERIOUS PROBLEM.  Need for a sign to say: "Entrance to the Nature Conservancy on Pent Road.  Parking there."

Architect points out that regs read "X square feet of a use per parking space."  So that means in a busy meeting-like space, 1 parking spot per 20 sq.ft., or in a more passive use, 1 parking spot (on gravel - NOT impervious) per 50 sq.ft.  The first floor is public, the second floor a residence.  If "historic" designaton achieved at State or Federal level, standards can be relaxed somewhat (based on Fairfield's experience). 
It was observed that P&Z is very cautious and would not indicated what they would favor until an application is made - and that that application would come from both the Nature Conservancy and the Town of Weston.

Next meeting of Committee Nov. 27.

Lachat committee is making progess
Weston FORUM
By Kimberly Donnelly on October 4, 2012

The work of the Select Committee for the Oversight of the Lachat Property is “coming along slowly, but it is coming along,” said the committee’s chairman, Ellen McCormick, earlier this week.

The committee has been having extra meetings to jump-start the process of restoring the farmhouse on the land and developing an overall vision for the property.

The land is co-owned by the town and the Nature Conservancy, but a dual lease agreement entered into last year gives the town control over what is done with the portion of the farm fronting on Godfrey Road — including the buildings — and the conservancy is responsible for land that abuts the Devil’s Den Nature Preserve.

Over the years, the Lachat farmhouse has fallen into disrepair.

About a year ago, the Board of Selectmen began discussing the possibility of demolishing the crumbling building, which used to belong to the late Leon Lachat, who ran one of the last working farms in town there.

A Friends of Lachat group formed at that time to raise money to save the farmhouse. The town agreed to stabilize the farmhouse using a portion of the money raised by the Friends of Lachat.

The Lachat oversight committee was formed to come up with a long-range vision and plan for the town’s portion of Lachat.

The town has sent the farmhouse project out to bid twice. Both times, vastly disparate bids came back, which has delayed the start of the project.

But in the meantime, Ms. McCormick said, the oversight committee is moving forward with what it needs to do to comply with a planning grant it has received from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.

The matching grant gives the town $20,000 if the town agrees to put up an additional $20,000, Ms. McCormick said. It may be used to cover costs for landscape planning, architectural drawings and structural engineering plans for the farmhouse.

Ms. McCormick said the committee needs to report to the trust by Dec. 8 with proof that those three components are sufficiently in place in order to keep the grant.

She said the general vision for the house is to use the upstairs portion as a place for someone to live on site and to use the downstairs as a limited public space.

As far as the vision or a “master plan” for the property as a whole, the committee will work more specifically on that once the planning grant requirements have been met, Ms. McCormick said.

The committee will focus on “education, with an agricultural component,” Ms. McCormick said.

“A lot of the proposals that have come forward from the public [for the property] have had some variation of a farming or community garden component,” she said. “We are planning to try to stick to the wishes of Leon Lachat and what was in those agreements he made” with the town when he sold the property, as well as what is in subsequent conservation easements, she said.

Ms. McCormick said the committee welcomes input from the public and it plans to hold hearings and informational meetings, and to meet with potential users of the property like the Scouts and the Garden Club before finalizing a master plan.

The committee’s regular meetings are on the first Tuesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. in the Meeting Room at town hall. Notice of additional meetings — as well as all agendas and meeting minutes — are posted at town hall and online at

Lachat Oversight Committee Meeting
Commission Room - 7:30pm - 9:45pm
Thursday, September 20, 2012

A quorum was present.

A proposal for work by Robert Hatch was expanded to include necessary revisions was approved unanimously.  Discussion on finalized use of house and further investigation with town authorities, took place.  
Discussion of long and short term strategic plans for non-profit organizations to use house or not, viv a vis related uses of the land.

Report on the status of repairs to house done: 
1. windows
2. roof leaks
3. actions taken
Status report on fund raising for Lachat for this Fall.  Report on farming component brought up question regarding depletion and lowering of the water table because of need for increased use of groundwater in farming operation.

*Meeting of Lachat Committee tentatively next week sometime with invitation to those requesting one, explanation of the request for having a Master Plan and Public Hearing prior to meeting with Selectmen.

Stabilizing the Lachat farmhouse: Bids keep project in limbo
Weston FORUM online
By Kimberly Donnelly on September 19, 2012

A second bid opening for work to shore up the Lachat farmhouse has proven to be as confusing as the first time around.  Tom Landry, town administrator, said the project first went out over the summer and two contractors bid on it. However, one bid came in at about $10,000 and the other at about $34,000.

Because of the disparity, the architect, Robert Hatch, was asked to clarify the specifications and the bid package was reissued, Mr. Landry said.

Two contractors (one that had bid last time and one new one) again bid, and those proposals were opened last Thursday, Sept. 20 (13th instead?). They again were not at all close in their cost estimates: This time, one was about $19,000 and the other was about $54,000.

“Obviously, we’re looking at two contractors with very different business models, or very different ideas of what the work is,” Mr. Landry said.

Earlier this week, Mr. Landry was waiting to hear back from Mr. Hatch to get some further clarification on the two bid proposals before any decision would be made about granting the contract to anyone.  The town is looking to stabilize the historic farmhouse on the Lachat property on Godfrey Road West. The land is co-owned by the town and the Nature Conservancy, but a dual lease agreement entered into last year gives the town control over what is done with the portion of the farm fronting on Godfrey Road — including the buildings — and the conservancy is responsible for land that abuts the Devil’s Den Nature Preserve.

Over the years, the Lachat farmhouse has fallen into disrepair. About a year ago, the Board of Selectmen began discussing the possibility of demolishing the crumbling farmhouse, which used to belong to the late Leon Lachat, who ran one of the last working farms in town there.  A Friends of Lachat group formed at that time to raise money to save the farmhouse.

A committee (the Select Committee for the Oversight of the Lachat Property) was recently formed to come up with a long-range vision and plan for the town’s portion of Lachat.

In the meantime, however, the town — under the supervision of Mr. Landry — agreed to stabilize the house using a portion of the money that was raised by Friends of Lachat.  Mr. Landry said the general project specifications include digging out around the existing foundation and waterproofing; pouring concrete footings in the cellar for additional supports (lally columns) for the first story floor; and some beam work in the basement.

Mr. Landry said the more detailed bid specs ask the contractor to:

• Remove and identify the stepping stones from the walkway that leads up to front of the house, store the stones, and then reinstall them when heavy construction is completed;
• Excavate an outside wall and save the stone steps;
• Remove stones from an existing wall and reuse them to repair the wall; shore up or support existing adjoining walls;
• Rebuild the stone foundation wall to approximate the appearance of the adjoining existing walls;
• Damp-proof the outside walls;
• Shore up the floor joists and beams to allow removal of wood posts;
• Replace 13 wood posts with four-inch metal lally columns resting on concrete footings;
• Replace wood beams where called for in the basement; and
• Replace an existing window in the repaired foundation wall with a new window.

Mr. Landry was uncertain about when the project would be able to start. Foundation work might be tricky as the weather gets colder, but it would not affect some of the interior work, he said.

Lachat Oversight Committee meets September 4th and approved concepts to present to Selectmen re:  plans for house.  Some items recommended for removal (to storage)  others just to remove (skylights). Of extended discussion, topic of access to attic.  First priority is Town action on foundation. 

Determination of use close to finalization (as a recommendation) - second floor again an apartment, main floor a display space of its historic architectural interior.  Strategic plan draft in the works as is research on specific ideas suggested so far.

Excellent meeting arrives at decision re: house restoration
Committee approves minutes, reviews legal documents to see if it can determine precisely what uses can and cannot be entertained, then discusses possibilities, comparing Lachat to other town farms.

Lachat Oversight Committee Meeting - with our take on what happened.

Town Hall Commission Room - 7:30pm (about 2 hrs)
August 29, 2012

A. Approve last meeting minutes - August 14, 2012 Meeting/done
B. Introduce Dennis Tracey to Committee/done
1. Overview of the Town agreements with the Nature Conservancy/see center picture above
2. Understanding the parameters of Leon Lachat’s wishes for the property/see right above
C. Status report on farmhouse restoration - planning phase/done
1. Discuss the use of the farmhouse - above right
2. Discuss foundation restoration specs - plan in hand with Town of Weston
3. Discuss landscape planning component - for grant purposes only.
D. Prioritize action plan outline for restoration/vote on new preliminary drawings for homestead, 1st floor handicap accessible, leaving as much of historic elements as possible; 2nd floor for caretaker apt.
E. Discuss short-term strategic plan - do drafts for next meeting - Sept. 11?
F. Discuss long-term strategic plan - do drafts - same
G. Status report on fund raising for Lachat/ done - more fundraising ideas.
H. Report on farming component/will be done after strategic plan
I. New business/Other issues/done - roof leaks on addition, we think we heard...
1. heating for the farmhouse for the winter - very educational!
2. roof repairs for winter protection - need for tarp?  (See below) Note:  main part of building has wood roof in good condition, we think we heard.
3. repairs to broken windows and tarp for roof - Town has a plan (discussed)
J. Public discussion as required/next meeting dates (regular meetings first Tuesday of the month in the Commission Room - Special Meeting as needed) SEPTEMBER SCHEDULE:  Sept. 11 and 19 next meetings.

Committee members chosen to oversee Weston's Lachat property
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Thursday, 12 July 2012 09:39

At a special meeting held Thursday morning, July 5, the Board of Selectmen appointed a seven-member committee to oversee the town-controlled portion of the Lachat property on Godfrey Road West.

Carol Baldwin, Ellen McCormick, Nick Bell, Judy Saffan, Amy Kalafa, Paul Deysenroth, and Sheila Koehler were named to the Select Committee for the Oversight of the Lachat Property.

The mission of this committee is to "vet community ideas for the use of the property, ensure that the ideas are consistent with the original deeds and provide recommendations for the use of the property to the Board of Selectmen. At the request of the Board of Selectmen, [the committee] may also provide project oversight and programming initiatives."

First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said she asked Ms. McCormick to be the acting chairman until the committee could meet and elect its own...story in full:

This Select Committee of seven (7) is concerned about the homestead as well as appropriate reuse of the land and barns
Members (the names were read quickly - not sure we got it right...)
Carol Baldwin, Nicholas Bell, Ellen McCormick, Acting Chair., Amy Kalafa, Paul Deysenroth(???), Judy Saffan, Sheila Koehler

Photo at left from 2004, prior to Special Town Meeting approving funding for Nature Education Center;  Lachat after years of  no mowing the lower field;  shoring up and restoring the farm house got grant.

Selectmen discuss what what might go on at Lachat:
  We've watched this for generation of volunteers joins with past advocates to save a farm.
Ideas have come in to Selectmen and Friends of Lachat for new uses and activities at the former dairy farm/ski hill.  A Select Committee (link to reverse chronological summary of actions taken by Town and other Committees to date) to be formed, 7 members, to do a Master Plan for future uses of the property and buildings. 

Does this sound familiar?  There already was a Master Plan done - but for  Lachat to become a Nature/Education Center.  The "Gateway" to the Nature Conservancy was shut after Public Hearing at P&Z.

Excellent discussion at Selectmen this past Thursday, both from those in support of projects for farm use, and from restoration of farm house.


Mission Statement for the Select Committee for the Oversight of the Lachat property

The purpose of the Select Committee for the Oversight of the Lachat property will be to vet community ideas for the use of the property, ensure that the ideas are consistent with the original deeds and provide recommendations for the use of the property to the Board of Selectmen. At the request of the Board of Selectmen, they may also provide project oversight and programming initiatives.

The Committee will be made up of 7 members, each serving a 2 year term.

Approved 4/24/12

Amended on 5/17/12 to include ex-officio members from the Sustainability Committee, the Arts Commission, the Board of Education and other committees to be named in the future.

Will the lower field ever look like this again?

Ideas for Weston's Lachat farmhouse and land are on the table
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Friday, 23 March 2012 00:00

After learning how much money the Friends of Lachat has raised in private donations, pledges, and grant money to refurbish the town-owned Lachat farmhouse, the Board of Selectmen agreed it's time to start greenlighting the project.

Carol Baldwin, head of the non-profit Friends of Lachat, told the selectmen at their meeting last Thursday, March 15, it has been just about one year since she learned the historic Lachat farmhouse on Godfrey Road West was slated for demolition because it had been allowed to fall into disrepair. At that time, she stepped forward and asked for some time to rally support and raise private money to save the building.

Since then, Ms. Baldwin said, the Friends group formed and raised about $125,000. Donations from more than 100 individuals range from $10 to thousands, she said.

In addition, the Friends have applied for a $15,000 community grant from a local bank that would pay for things like paint and siding, with the hope that volunteers will help with some of the labor.

"We're getting there," she said...story in full:


Organic farming in the future?  Indoor idea from 2011...


Planning and Zoning and Selectman Tracey do lawyerly work coming  to agreement on Lachat-Conservancy lease wording revisions at a special work session and approval of new wording, hoping to get to a point where Board of Selectmen can agree and a new Town Meeting can confirm lease document. 

Paintings by Georgiana Silk behind Selectmen and Margaret Wirtenberg (r)
Special Town Meeting: "YES" by standing room only crowd after asking questions first at informational meeting...and then there was nothing more to say.   Selectmen discuss fundraising and grants possibilities, report on Lachat progress to date at their artist's view of the scene (r).  P&Z 8-24 to come.

Main field at the Juliana Lachat Preserve, on a beautiful autumn day, rises into the woods and the Nature Conservancy's Devil's Den.

"About Town" wonders about these things...our three questions below - depending on the call of Town Meeting, some might be better suited for the info session - they were asked and answered - short version of answers below.

First question:  Who gets control and responsibility to maintain this field?  Ans.  Town

Second question:  Besides looking beautiful, are these barns in good condition and could they hold farm equipment?  Ans. Could be!

Third question:  will plans for renovation make this structure livable?  Yellow tape denotes unsafe condition.  Ans.  The looks are deceiving - actually in good shape, at least thru the winter, according to Bob Hatch.

New today, April 27, 2012, a FRIENDS OF LACHAT WEBSITE

Which Lachat Committee?  Lachat Building and Maintenance, or perhaps the latest version of the Nature Conservancy-Town Committee originally appointed?
Tuesday, April 26, 2011, Commission Room at Town Hall

Lachat Building and Maintenance Committee (last known name) - S.R.O. as all the chairs and horizontal surfaces are taken. 

Left to right:

[The Friends of Lachat would like to raise at least $255,000 to preserve the Lachat farmhouse, located on property now co-owned by the town and the Nature Conservancy. The Friends are holding a fund-raising event this Sunday, Oct. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m.. —Kimberly Donnelly photo]

Weston P&Z is still reviewing Lachat

Weston FORUM
Written by Patricia Gay
Wednesday, 07 December 2011 11:32

The Planning and Zoning Commission is working overtime hoping to issue a positive referral on the Lachat lease agreements. To further that goal, P&Z has scheduled a special workshop for Thursday, Dec. 8, at 6, at the Town Hall Annex.

The workshop was called because commissioners were unable to come to a majority decision at a public hearing on Monday, Dec. 5, on an 8-24 referral of dual proposed lease agreements between the town of Weston and the Nature Conservancy, who jointly own property deeded to them by the late Leon Lachat...story in full:

Weston P&Z has questions about Lachat
Weston FORUM
Written by Patricia Gay
Wednesday, 30 November 2011 11:31

The Planning and Zoning Commission is not yet ready to give a positive 8-24 referral to proposed changes to the Lachat property lease agreement.  Commissioners had numerous questions about proposed dual lease agreements between the town of Weston and the Nature Conservancy at a public hearing on Nov. 21. The hearing has been continued to Monday, Dec. 5.

“I believe a lot of work has gone into drafting the lease agreements and this is the correct direction for the town. However, the commission was given incomplete documentation and we have important questions about some of the language in those agreements,” said Stephan Grozinger, P&Z chairman.

The Lachat property is owned jointly by the town and the Nature Conservancy. Under the proposed lease agreements, the town will lease approximately half of the property — 19.01 acres of the meadow area along Godfrey Road West — from the conservancy.  In return, the conservancy will lease a 22.6-acre wooded portion of the land that abuts its Devil’s Den Nature Preserve from the town.  The leases will expire after 10 years, but are renewable.

Because the Nature Conservancy wants to use its portion of the land for a narrow purpose while the town wants to allow the possibility of a broader use — namely agricultural — P&Z is carefully reviewing the leases and supporting documents to make sure the town’s interests are protected.

On Nov. 28, Mr. Grozinger listed the commission’s concerns in a letter to First Selectman Gayle Weinstein, who presented the matter to the commission, and to Selectman Dennis Tracey, who drafted the lease agreements as chairman of the Lachat Building Committee.

The commission’s main concerns are:

• What happens after the lease expires at the end of 10 years?

• Suppose the town has made improvements to the property at its expense. At the termination of the lease, will those improvements become the common property of the conservancy and the town? Will that also be the case if third party funds are invested?

•When the term of the lease expires, will the conservancy be in a position as tenant-in-common to prevent all agricultural activity on the property if it desires to pursue its mission of a nature preserve?

• In a previous cooperative agreement, P&Z believes the town and conservancy had a renovation fund, which was never funded, and an endowment fund that both parties funded. Use of the endowment fund was restricted to repair and maintenance. If buildings on the property are renovated, will the town be responsible for all the maintenance and repair costs going forward?

• Can the property be used for community gardens as well as other non-commercial agricultural uses?

• Is education-based agriculture, where a farmer or teacher cultivates or pastures the land through a sublease and is paid for those services, allowed or disallowed?

Mr. Grozinger said it is important that ambiguities in the lease be explained or cleared up before the commission votes on the referral...story in full:

Preserving a piece of Weston history: Fundraiser Sunday for Lachat house
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Thursday, 29 September 2011 00:00

A grass-roots group, Friends of Lachat, would like to preserve one of the oldest homesteads in Weston, the Lachat farmhouse.

Dave and Alice Christopher, Carol Baldwin and Friends of Lachat are holding a “Tapas, Toasts and Testimonials!” benefit event, open to all, this Sunday, Oct. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m., to raise money to preserve the farmhouse once known as the David Godfrey House...story in full:

Weston's Onion Barn is another symbol...

Roots: Westport farming traditions run deep
Westport News
Mike Lauterborn
Updated 10:07 a.m., Sunday, May 29, 2011

It was a story of indigenous people, hardy settlers, rugged farmers and bohemian artists, all of whom have called the Westport area home and are part of its rich agrarian history.

A new exhibit showcasing that legacy, "Back to Our Roots," opened Friday at Westport Historical Society, 25 Avery Place...story in full:

Leaders Try To Put Grass Seed Debate Behind Them
by Christine Stuart | Apr 18, 2014 7:17am

It’s been a week since the House, in a rare move, defeated a bill that would have banned genetically modified grass seed just one day after the Senate passed it...story in full here:

House Defeats GMO Grass Seed Ban
by Christine Stuart | Apr 10, 2014 4:46pm

Less than 24 hours after the Senate approved a bill banning genetically modified grass seed, the House found bipartisan agreement to kill it.  The bill was a top priority for outgoing Sen. President Donald Williams. But House Speaker Brendan Sharkey was not sold on the idea or consulted about the bill.  In a show of bipartisanship, Democrats and Republicans worked Thursday to defeat it by a 103 to 37 vote.  Following the vote, Sharkey said Williams never had a conversation with him about the legislation.

“I’ve never, ever been consulted about this bill by anyone in the Senate,” Sharkey said. “And the advocates wanted a vote on the bill, so I thought it was important to have vote and avoid the distraction that was going to inevitably occur if we kept it on our calendar.”

He said the same thing happened last year with the GMO labeling bill, which bounced back and forth between chambers before finally winning the approval of all the stakeholders.  Sharkey said he voted against the GMO grass bill because he believes there should have been a public hearing.

“It’s too important to take up and do without getting input from all those stakeholders,” Sharkey said.

Genetically modified grass isn’t on the market yet, but supporters worry about what will happen if it gets out there. Proponents of the legislation say the genetically modified grass would increase the use of glyphosate or other herbicides because it would be resistant to those herbicides.  There’s also the threat of the seed spreading and cross-pollinating with other grass species and spreading individual genes from one species to another. This could lead to an artificially modified gene spreading into the broader gene pool, with untold consequences, Williams explained Wednesday during the Senate debate...

Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, said she was concerned about how the bill came to the Environment Committee, but she worries the product will be sold next year. She said she believes it could be dangerous to the environment.

“This is our one chance to make this product go away before it arrives on the state,” Mushinsky said.

Lance Latham, a spokesman for Scotts MiracleGro, which is developing a genetically engineered grass seed, said Wednesday that it won’t be on the market for another “few years.”

“They’re welcome to visit our research facilities in Ohio, talk with our scientists and see firsthand why we believe our enhanced grass seed can one day bring about significant environmental benefits,” Latham said.

“They’re also welcome to visit any of our facilities in Connecticut and meet with our 260 employees who live and work in the state.”

Story in full here:

OP-ED | Farm Bureau Urges Rejection of GMO Amendment
by Henry N. Talmage | Apr 6, 2014 9:37pm

For the last few years, the news has been positive for the agricultural industry here in Connecticut. The number of farmers markets across the state is on the rise. Our friends and neighbors are committed to buying our products.

The legislature and Gov. Dannel P.  Malloy reestablished the Governor’s Council for Agricultural Development—aimed at growing the industry. And, a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that for the first time in decades the number of farms is on the rise in Connecticut.

But that trend could be reversed if a piece of legislation before the General Assembly this session becomes law...story in full here:

LWV of Weston attended Fall Conference 2012 and learned all about this
Conn. bill would expand pesticide restrictions
Mar 15, 9:53 AM EDT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut state lawmakers are considering whether to expand restrictions on pesticide use to include more public places like parks, playgrounds and municipal greens.

Legislators say they drafted a bill to shield children from toxic lawn pesticides. The General Assembly's Environment Committee has scheduled a public hearing on the proposal and other bills for 1 p.m. Monday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

The bill would expand current restrictions on using pesticides at schools to include all high schools. It also would restrict their use at parks, playgrounds, athletic fields and town greens.

Members of a state association of public parks and recreation officials oppose the bill. They say it has little basis in science and would lead to more injuries on sports fields because of turf damage from insects.