that no information on the Internet is official--and this WEBSITE most
definitely is not...in addition, we do not "observe" P&Z on a regular basis, and defer to Weston FORUM reports for background.
M A P S, T A B L E S, C H A R T S
READING THE FINE PRINT: Zoning hat for citizens only (l); Planning hat and fuzzy 8-24 rules only for the Town of Weston (c) and the tall guy with the tall lights explains how they would make zero "spillage." More than any other board, P&Z has to be consistent - so check our snapshots of major P&Z history below!
PICTURES above: link to New Town Plan,
"Speak Up" 2010
announcement; Planimetrics 2-26-09 "scoping session" at new WHS
cafeteria, leading to
ZONING"(as in East Lyme) and Weston wetlands enforcement agent into the
mix for implementation. Some questions
- Is there a role for the Garden Club at Lachat? How about the Beautification Committee? Lachat
Special Town Meeting Jan. 19, 2012 says "YES" one more
time! One panel of "About Town" tryptych on Lachat (c);
8-24 (r), 4-1 yes.
- "Form Based Zoning" puts developer's cards on the table
planning to...the East Lyme P&Z!
Way to the east of Fairfield County...this aerial map of the proposed
Gateway Commons site off Interstate
95 at Exit 74 includes a concept drawing of the proposal in the area
enclosed by the dotted yellow line. .
- Town project do take
a long time. Ask the Building Committee! "Global Facilities Committee" taking the lead in planning for town owned properties in the Central Part of Town in 2014.
- East doesn't meet
west unless Town bridges ford the mighty Saugatuck!
- Among other projects,
Weston High School doubled in size during the schools/fields project
approved Nov. 15, 2001.
- And now "Friday Night Lights" every week night (almost) during the school year? And weekends, too? Check M.O.U. here. Traffic is always something to check on, as are parking standard.
PLANNING AND ZONING IN WESTON: AN
UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO CHANGE
Views of Town Hall, Norfield Church, Saugatuck Reservoir - original watercolors inspired by b&w aerial photography.
Regarding the use of Geographical Information Systems (G.I.S.), the Town
of Weston is only first embarking on its application to municipal
government activities. The former SWRPA Region towns had all
established such activities long ago. In fact, we believe even
HVCEO towns and cities were engaged in this as well. The word is
efficiency in providing services nowadays. Good news:
Weston has no sewers, no public water supply lines and a few hydrants
and sidewalks. Plus four traffic lights and a blinker.
Drainage structures should be on the map, too. And bridges.
At 2pm Nov. 13, 2014 the bids were opened, the seven (7) responses read aloud. Next
step is review by staff (Land Use Director, Assessor, Fire/EMT, etc.).
We'll see how much will be usable online; since Weston has never had any GIS, this is very exciting...RFP here.
OK - this is what it means to act locally.
When this GIS job is finished, and it is only at the bid-opening phase,
it may be very easy to do planning...from your tabletop!
Weston had a ton of 2-rod highways,
most of which have been incorporated into the development of networks of
subdivisions in the 1980's.
Old 2 Rod Highway: The road that is, but isn’t
By Christopher Burns, Hersam Acorn Newspapers on October 7, 2014
The question presented to the town of Wilton by the largely abandoned Old 2 Rod Highway is a perfect exercise in existentialism. If a road only exists on archived town maps, is it a road at all?
From 1730 to, at least, 1961, the town of Wilton cared for a road which
ran near the border with Weston, connecting areas near the current
Ambler Farmhouse to the Georgetown section of town...
‘The road that isn’t’
The “road that isn’t” first came to the town’s attention in the
early 2000s, when a developer, Christopher Montanaro, purchased land
near the Wilton-Weston border that could not be accessed by any direct
right-of-way. During legal proceedings, he argued Old 2 Rod
Highway — which is largely impassible even by walking — is a public
right-of-way. Connecticut’s Superior Court agreed, though it did
not specify the town’s responsibility to maintain or rebuild the road.
According to the court, the right-of-way passed a two-prong
roadway test that created standards for road identification that Ms.
Sullivan and Ken Bernhard, Wilton town attorney, both felt were
“It’s tricky because this came into being in 1730, before the United
States was even the United States,” Ms. Sullivan said. “The court set a
very low threshold for whether it was a road or not. [The court asked:]
Did anybody use it? Ever?”
The first of two requirements, Ms. Sullivan said, was an “intent to
dedicate,” something the court found in one of the first maps of Wilton
drawn in 1730, when the area was still considered a part of
Norwalk. Second, counsel said, was “acceptance by the public,”
which the court found in a 1961 map of WIlton that still showed the road
as a right-of-way...
...Both Mr. Bernhard and Mr. Nerney said, if the town decides to abandon
the road, it should be done in cooperation with Weston — where a small
portion of the road runs. They also suggested the abandonment be
decided by a special town vote, for legal reasons.
Story in full here:
QUESTION NUMBER ONE: Will
the Planning and Zoning Commission figure out how to resolve
conflicting self-image in Town? Or will someone else do it for them?
QUESTION NUMBER TWO: How can a Bank
be located on 1.9 acre property in an Historic District without needing a
new zone to be created for such a size and type of use, without it
being "spot zoning?"
Left - the preferred arrangement; audience asks questions (c) and (r) the ATM - well run meeting, most informative.
Special Historic District Commission meeting very revealing.
The issue: To discuss swapping Jarvis Military Academy for
former Guidera offices and what the Historic District would consider its
purview. Audience questions permitted initially and at the end.
What we heard: Bank to eventually move all its operations to
Jarvis. Has no intention of doing anything to the outside of the
building. Shown: Five alternative examples of how to arrange
the drive up service plus how to arrange the parking lot. We were
confused - what's with a "text amendment" to introduce commercial zoning into Weston??? THERE IS NO COMMERCIAL ZONE IN WESTON - just the SHOPPING CENTER ZONE (5 acre minimum).
Book jacket pic from Wikipedia
OPENING LINES...IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES, IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES...
JMO - LAND SWAP A GREAT IDEA!!!
Hot time at the Board of Selectmen Thursday -
perhaps the only way to make the Police Station work and save the Onion
Barn and not have an angry neighbor (the Bank) stopping the major
disruption possibly to come? How about that Historic District
Commission standing tall...what a terrific group! Awesome.
Great idea because:
1. It should be a wash - no $$ to spend???.
2. The Onion Barn can stay put - parking and access and drainage now have options.
3. Former law offices more likely to provide appropriate space on the first floor for town office use.
4. Second story of law offices already living space/apartment - usable for emergency use in big storms.
5. Jarvis Military Academy is in Historic District too.
TUNE IN THURSDAY FOR SELECTMEN M.O.U. DISCUSSION WHEN ACCEPTING $$
After fully vetting every part of the proposal,
giving the public the opportunity to speak as many times as they felt
was necessary, P&Z crossed the goal line!
MONDAY, JUNE 2, 2014:
After returning home from another meeting out of town, I turned on
Channel 79 and watched the last part of the 8-24 continuation.
We missed the explanation of the M.O.U. which had been given to almost
everyone before the meeting, some by quite a bit of lead time, and it
was referenced when the First Selectman, seated at the table with the
P&Z members, responded to the question why not 2-2, as was done in
the settlement in Westport, and not a Town side weighted 3-2 membership
on an advisory body to respond to complaints, and also the time limit (5
yrs instead of 20) that such an advisory body should be in place.
Planning and Zoning listened politely while taking testimony.
when the last question had been asked, plea made, rebuttal taken, they
asked the First Selectman to leave the tableduring deliberations.
After very brief "sense of the meeting" discussion, the Chair. called
for the vote up or down. P&Z
gave a unanimous "yes" for a positive report. To be written later,
no conditions allowed as that would be interpreted as a "no" vote by
were pleased to see that the issue of conference championships where no
Weston teams were participating was brought up, and the answers given
came down to the fact that when all is said and done, the athletic
department wants their students to watch these games as a learning
experience. So it is for the Board of Education to figure out how to and plan for adequate parking to be available
in these situations (i.e. make the high school parking lot available
only for football playoff cars might be one way to handle it).
The 8-24 Process part one allows for 18 comments, first night.
STADIUM LIGHTS? WHERE'S THE STADIUM?
A reminder to us of the Weston Community Center Foundation - a blast from the past! While we never got traction for a community center,
and previous moneys collected for that effort never became part of a
real municipal improvement, that group sure knew how to put together
terrific fund raisers (i.e. golf tournament, '60's dance)!
With seating, and we assume parking, for 1000 spectators at the
Weston High School football field/track complex, we are getting into big
time athletics. It was explained (above, left) that
once you had adequate facilities, FCIAC would put your fields on the
map, so to say, for conference and higher up games - as neutral
Continued to June 2nd - the point where arguments had to stop, we suppose, was when speaker near the end noted and it was confirmed, that the conduits for stadium lights had been installed during the school project 10 years ago.
References to Town Plan 2010 approval
by the Selectmen at this 8-24 public meeting of P&Z perhaps not
accurate? Since, in 2010 it was not mandatory
to gain the Selectmen's approval all suggestions for the Plan in order
thay the Plan be valid, ideas about leasing town land, commercial use,
affordable housing & other hot button ideas, not favored by the
public, remained in the
Are these (l) Staples High School lights also 80 feet high? At right. examples of "stadium lights."
What is the role topography plays? For example is it better to be
either above or below the lights, as opposed to level with them?
And how might the effects be mitigated?
HOT TIME IN THE OLD TOWN...TONIGHT. P&Z - FROM THE TOWN HALL MEETING ROOM!
Stay home and watch it at 8:15pm on Channel 79 as the Planning and
Zoning Commission, meeting especially for the purpose of letting in the
light on the subject, meets at Town Hall. Or show up and watch in
person the live theatre - it doesn't get more entertaining than
this...unless of course, you happen to be a resident nearby the football field.
P&Z, which has height limitations in residential and commercial
zones, is circumvented from enforcing these by virtue of 8-24
process. What do we mean by "8-24?"
8-24. Municipal improvements. No municipal agency or legislative body
shall (1) locate, accept, abandon, widen, narrow or extend any street,
bridge, parkway or other public way, (2) locate, relocate, substantially
improve, acquire land for, abandon, sell or lease any airport, park,
playground, school or other municipally owned property or public
building, (3) locate or extend any public housing, development,
redevelopment or urban renewal project, or (4) locate or extend public
utilities and terminals for water, sewerage, light, power, transit and
other purposes, until the proposal to take such action has been referred
to the commission for a report. Notwithstanding the provisions of this
section, a municipality may take final action approving an appropriation
for any proposal prior to the approval of the proposal by the
commission pursuant to this section. The failure of the commission to
report within thirty-five days after the date of official submission of
the proposal to it for a report shall be taken as approval of the
proposal. In the case of the disapproval of the proposal by the
commission the reasons therefor shall be recorded and transmitted to the
legislative body of the municipality. A proposal disapproved by the
commission shall be adopted by the municipality or, in the case of
disapproval of a proposal by the commission subsequent to final action
by a municipality approving an appropriation for the proposal and the
method of financing of such appropriation, such final action shall be
effective, only after the subsequent approval of the proposal by (A) a
two-thirds vote of the town council where one exists, or a majority vote
of those present and voting in an annual or special town meeting, or
(B) a two-thirds vote of the representative town meeting or city council
or the warden and burgesses, as the case may be. The provisions of this
section shall not apply to maintenance or repair of existing property,
buildings or public ways, including, but not limited to, resurfacing of
The Board of Selectmen
has been ignoring standards set by P&Z - lately. Town of Weston
property has been out of P&Z's purview - since 1971. Although previous Boards of Selectmen have
generally tried to comply. The obvious exception might be the 195
foot cell tower at Town Hall - but that is a story for another day...
this item Dec. 20!
Selectmen appear to give blessing to adjacent owner on both sides to
clear wetland owned by town.
So many questions for me about this
idea, which may be well intentioned, that it is hard to know where
to begin! What business did the Selectmen have, after the First
Selectman had discussed this in private, to give permission to a
private owner to do work on a piece of Town property, no matter
whether it is a true improvement or not - or does the new Charter
permit this? Beginning to sound like a previous administration
and a pond that was divided in half...
Remember the "treble damages against zoning enforcement officers"
North Haven Girl Will Keep Her
DAVID OWENS, firstname.lastname@example.org
10:37 AM EDT, August 17, 2012
Town officials have decided to revise language that could have required
a 7-year-old girl to lose her pet rabbit. Under a 50-year-old
rule, rabbits were considered livestock in North Haven and to have
rabbits land owners needed to have at least two acres. The issue
to light after North Haven's zoning enforcement officer issued a cease
and desist order to Josh Lidsky, whose daughter Kayden has a 20-pound
pet rabbit named Sandy.
The cease and desist order had an appeal provision which meant Lidsky
could have gone to the zoning board of appeals for a variance that
would have allowed the family to keep Sandy. But North Haven
Selectman Michael Freda said Friday he thinks the livestock ordinance
needs to be revised.
"The ordinance is outdated and ridiculous," he said Friday. "It was put
into effect in 1960 when North Haven was a farming community. At that
time rabbits were being raised and bred as livestock."
The town attorney and land use have staff have begun work on revised
regulations, Freda said.
"I've assured the family they don't need to go before the zoning board
of appeals for a waiver," Freda said. "My goal is to simplify the
process and to reiterate they will not lose that rabbit as a pet."
The issue of Sandy arose as town officials investigated complaints of
blight at the Lidsky home lodged by a neighbor.
We are not going to add any comment,
but can assure you that this issue is another one that has a
story...beyond what appears below.
Ippagunta/Martin Road court
Weston did not abandon road
Written by Patricia Gay
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 11:11
A nearly six-year-long dispute involving an unpaved portion of Martin
Road has been settled by the court.
The town of Weston did not abandon "Old Highway," according to a
decision issued July 25 by Judge Howard T. Owens Jr. of the Bridgeport
The decision puts to rest a claim by Sunil and Uma Ippagunta of 20
Martin Road, who asked the court to "quiet and settle" title to an
unpaved portion of Martin Road known as "Old Highway" that they claimed
belonged to them because the town had abandoned it.
In a substantially explained decision, the court found the Ippaguntas
did not carry their "heavy burden" to prove abandonment of Old Highway.
Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said she was "very pleased with
the court's decision," as did town legal counsel, Jason Buchsbaum of
Cohen & Wolf, who defended the town.
Martin Road — including the Old Highway portion — runs easterly from
Davis Hill Road, past the Ippagunta property, to the Saugatuck River. A
portion of Martin Road is paved from Davis Hill Road to near the
The portion of Martin Road that extends to the Saugatuck River is
unpaved (Old Highway) but contains identifiable walking paths that
allow public access from Martin Road to the Saugatuck River.
A dispute between the Ippaguntas and the town of Weston surfaced in
2006, when the Ippaguntas received a variance from the Board of
Selectmen to build a driveway for the home they were constructing at 20
In addition to building the driveway, Mr. Ippagunta installed a stone
wall that extended onto town property as well as onto a portion of the
unpaved Old Highway adjacent to Mr. Ippagunta's property.
After the stone wall was built, the town issued the Ippaguntas a cease
and desist order saying they needed to apply for a zoning permit for
Mr. Ippagunta explained at the time that as he was building the
driveway there was a knoll and a large tree at the entrance so he built
a retaining wall for safety purposes.
In 2008, Woody Bliss, who was then first selectman, said just because
the board gave Mr. Ippagunta a variance for the driveway, it did not
give him the right to build a stone wall on town property.
Several residents complained about the wall and refuted the Ippaguntas'
argument that the town had abandoned Old Highway, citing instances of
the public using Old Highway in the past for picnics and to walk to the
Things turned ugly in June 2008, when vandals spray painted in orange
letters "Town Park" on the stone wall. Weston police investigated the
matter but no suspect was ever found. The stone wall has since been
The Ippaguntas filed a lawsuit asking the court to "quiet and settle"
title to a piece of property on Old Highway adjacent to 20 Martin Road
where part of the stone wall was located.
The Ippaguntas claimed the town had abandoned the roadway and as an
abutting neighbor they were entitled to own a portion of the land to
the center line of Old Highway.
Non-use is not enough
Both sides in the suit agreed that Old Highway was a public highway up
until the abandonment alleged in the complaint. In the suit, however,
the Ippaguntas claimed the town had abandoned Old Highway by "non-use."
The court said non-use is not enough to constitute abandonment. There
must also be evidence that the municipality intended to abandon the
The town claimed it never intended to abandon Old Highway and presented
evidence showing Old Highway had been used for public access to the
river and it had been publicized in The Weston Forum as a public
highway that provides public access to the river.
There was also evidence presented that in 1964 the town voted to reject
a resolution that would have discontinued Old Highway.
A pair of maps introduced by the Ippaguntas indicating the town might
potentially abandon a portion of Old Highway were not deemed relevant
by the court because the court said the property delineated on the maps
was not adjacent to the Ippagunta property.
The court supported its finding that the town had not abandoned Old
Highway with relevant case law, including a 1908 Connecticut Supreme
Court decision that held that public use of an unimproved roadway by
foot solely during summer months was sufficient use to constitute
acceptance of a highway.
The court also noted there was no public record or document recorded on
the land records that in any way indicated that any portion of Old
Highway adjacent to the Ippagunta property had ever been abandoned.
Resolves the issues
Although the court struck down their claim of abandonment, Uma
Ippagunta said she and her husband were pleased with the court's
decision. She said it was never their intention to "get the land."
In an email to The Forum, the Ippaguntas said, "We are pleased with the
outcome. The town has accepted this section of Martin Road as public
highway, giving our lot legally required road frontage. Town has
further accepted that it never obtained title to Martin Road either by
deed or by eminent domain. This ensures that this land cannot be used
for any other purposes than a roadway. Which means converting it to a
park or having a picnic on this land is no different than doing the
same on Lyons Plain Road. These give the required protections for the
value of our property and settles the open issues on this land once and
How does this
relate to Cobb's Mill Inn parking lot
Weston P&Z reviews re-built
Written by Patricia Gay
Friday, 27 April 2012 00:00
The Planning and Zoning Commission did not take an official vote about
a non-conforming rebuilt cottage at its April 16 meeting, but the sense
of the commission was the application will be denied.
The commission is reviewing the status of a non-conforming cottage at
306 Lyons Plain Road, owned by Jay Faillace, which was demolished at
one point and then rebuilt without a zoning permit. Because the
cottage, which is incidental to a residence on the property, was deemed
to be a pre-existing non-conforming use, a zoning permit was needed for
substantial work to be done on it. The commission determined the
cottage was not just remodeled, but had in fact been demolished and
rebuilt in violation of zoning regulations.
Non-conforming properties have strict guidelines and prohibitions about
expanding or changing their use. The properties revert back to
residential use if their original non-conforming use is deemed to be
Land use issues with the cottage started in 2009, when the town issued
Mr. Faillace a notice of violation for constructing a structure without
a permit. Mr. Faillace then applied for and was denied a variance by
the Zoning Board of Appeals. He currently has a lawsuit pending
against the town for that decision.
In the current P&Z application, neighbors sent letters to the
commision in support of the cottage. The commission intends to vote on
the issue at its next meeting.
Photo (L) has nothing to do with Cobb's Mill,
but it is tied to this from the Stamford ADVOCATE.
So if one eating establishment does
dinner and parties, the other will do breakfast, lunch and take
out...but does this mean that Cobb's Mill Inn itself can never do lunch
J.K. Café at Cobb’s Mill Inn gets OK
By Patricia Gay on April 3, 2013
A new coffee shop at the Cobb’s Mill Inn could be serving up
lattés as soon as this summer.
On Monday, April 1, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted to grant
Cobb’s Mill’s owner, Drew Friedman, a zoning permit for interior work
to turn a former gift shop into a coffee shop.
The coffee shop will be located on 12 Old Mill Road, and will be called
J.K. Café at Cobb’s Mill Inn in honor of the late son of Elayne
Cassara, Mr. Friedman’s business associate.
Ms. Cassara said she is very excited to bring a coffee shop to the
Weston community. “It was a great victory,” she said.
The plan calls for the café to be open seven days a week for
breakfast and lunch. It will serve coffee, pastries, soups, and
sandwiches. There will be seating for 35 to 40 customers and wi-fi
service will be available. Cooking for the café will done in the
main restaurant at Cobb’s Mill Inn.
The permit was granted after a lengthy public hearing that started in
February. At a meeting in March, an informal sense of the commission
revealed that members were split on the application.
The matter was especially complicated, according to P&Z Chairman
Jane Connolly, because it involved a non-conforming property in a
residential zone. She said the commission needed to do extensive
research and review case law before members were ready to vote.
The Cobb’s Mill property is classified by zoning regulations as a
“non-conforming commercial business” located in a residential zone. Its
use as a restaurant predates zoning, and therefore a restaurant is
allowed there. However, there are limitations placed on non-conforming
properties. By law, their use is allowed to “intensify,” but not to
The main issue surrounding the “gift shop” building was whether its use
as a café was an intensification or an expansion.
Ms. Connolly said the commission reviewed 20 cases to determine the
differences between intensifications and expansions. For example, in a
recent 2012 case, Woodbury Donuts v. the Woodbury Zoning Board of
Appeals, the court upheld a zoning board’s decision to deny an
application for a Dunkin’ Donuts shop because a “fast food” restaurant
was considered an expansion of a smaller restaurant on the site.
Cobb’s Mill Inn has operated as a restaurant for many years, but there
are some differences between Cobb’s Mill and the proposed café,
which the commission took under advisement in order to reach its
decision, Ms. Connolly said.
“Cobb’s Mill is only open for dinner, and has different hours than the
café. The café is really more of a takeout place, not
fine dining like Cobb’s Mill. The menus are quite different — Cobb’s
Mill is formal, the café is informal dining,” she said.
The commission also considered the café’s effect on the
neighborhood. Old Mill Road is twisty and has a history of sightline
problems. There was concern that a coffee shop open at rush hour in the
morning could exacerbate dangerous conditions on the road.
After discussion and deliberations, six commissioners voted in favor of
the application, with one member, Ken Edgar, voting against it.
After the meeting, Mr. Edgar said the commission took numerous factors
into account but he did not believe Cobb’s Mill met the applicable
tests for granting the permit.
The application received considerable support from the public. A
petition was presented to the commission with more than 200 signatures
from residents in favor of the café. However, Ms. Connolly said
the commission could not vote based on public sentiment.
“We appreciated the public’s input, but the commission has to follow
the law. The issue was not whether the café was good for Weston,
it was whether it met a legal test promulgated by the [state] Supreme
Court,” she said.
With the zoning permit now approved, the next step for the café
is to get a food service permit from the heath department, a building
permit, and a certificate of occupancy.
Mr. Friedman said he hopes to get the interior work completed and
necessary permits issued in order to open the café as soon as
possible, he hopes by this summer.
In future plans for the property, Mr. Friedman said he would like to
construct a bridge across the river so people who visit Cobb’s Mill Inn
can walk across it and enjoy a sculpture garden. Those plans aren’t
under way yet, though. Mr. Friedman said first he wants to open J.K.
Mill Inn seeks café permit
By Patricia Gay on February 7, 2013 in Land Use, Latest
News · 0 Comments
Drew Friedman, owner of La Roue Elayne at Cobb’s Mill Inn on Old Mill
Road, has filed for a zoning permit to do interior work on the former
gift shop building at Cobb’s Mill Inn in order to create a café.
Mr. Friedman and his associate, Elayne Cassara, presented the plan to
the Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday, Feb. 4. The commission
accepted the application, but took no action and tabled further
discussion until its next meeting.
Mr. Friedman said the plan would be to serve light breakfast and lunch
items, such as coffee, baked goods, soups, sandwiches and paninis. The
shop will be called J.K. Café at Cobb’s Mill Inn.
The café would open around 6 a.m. daily and there would be
seating for 35 to 40 people.
There would be no cooking in the space; that would be done in the
kitchen at Cobb’s Mill Inn. However, there would be refrigeration units
to keep beverages cold.
Because the property is a non-conforming business in a residential
zone, the commissioners decided to ask for an opinion from legal
counsel to see if a café would be an acceptable use.
Weston's Cobb’s Mill Inn gets parking lot permit
Written by Patricia Gay
Thursday, 26 April 2012 00:00
The owner of Cobb's Mill Inn, now known as La Roue Elayne at Cobb's
Mill Inn, may continue to make improvements to a parking lot at 12 Old
The Planning and Zoning Commission approved the issuance of a soil
disturbance permit for the parking lot at a meeting on Monday, April 16.
The restaurant's owner, Drew Friedman, had asked for the permit in
order to make improvements on a lower level parking lot across the
street from the historic landmark restaurant.
After reviewing a number of maps and documents, the commission decided
to grant the permit.
The application had come under fire by Cobb's Mill neighbor Xu Cheng,
whose property abuts the parking lot. Mr. Cheng claimed at an earlier
meeting that the parking lot, which adjoins a main upper level lot, was
at one time two tennis courts, and therefore its use as a parking lot
had been abandoned.
The Cobb's Mill property is located in a residential neighborhood, and
is classified as a pre-existing nonconforming use. As such, zoning
permits for any and all proposed uses and renovation proposals need to
be reviewed and approved by P&Z.
Nonconforming properties have strict guidelines and prohibitions about
expanding or changing their use. The properties revert back to
residential use if their original nonconforming use is deemed to be
The commission reviewed photographs provided by Mr. Cheng and an aerial
map provided by Mr. Friedman and concluded that the area had been used
as a parking lot in the 1950s. It further concluded that the placement
of boulders and planting of trees on the property in the 2000s did not
interfere with the use of the land and therefore did not constitute
Plans are in the works to re-open the restaurant on the property, which
closed its doors in 2010.
Mr. Friedman and Elayne Cassara, the restaurant's decorator and
entertainment coordinator, have expressed interest in running a cabaret
on the Cobb's Mill property.
The commission told Mr. Friedman he could not assume a "cabaret and
entertainment" use for the property was legal and he would need to come
back to the commission to state what he proposes.
Old Mill Road in Weston: Should
Written by Patricia Gay
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 11:46
There was some surprising news for residents of Old Mill Road at the
Weston Police Commission meeting on Tuesday, March 6.
A large number had shown up expecting to discuss the possibility of
putting speed humps on the road to deter speeding, but instead they
were met with an interesting counterproposal from Town Engineer John
He recommended the town consider making Old Mill Road a cul-de-sac,
ending the road at the Wilton line where it becomes Cobb’s Mill Road.
Old Mill Road runs along the Saugatuck River, intersecting with Route
57 (Georgetown Road) near Cobbs Mill Inn in Weston. After becoming
Cobbs Mill Road at the Wilton town line, it intersects with Cedar Road
in Wilton. It is often used by commuters and others who wish to avoid
Route 57 (Weston Road) through Weston Center.
Residents were supportive of the novel cul-de-sac proposal.
“We would have to create a turnaround at the end of the road for
emergency vehicles and Wilton may have to create a cul-de-sac too,” Mr.
A month earlier, Old Mill Road residents had asked the Police
Commission, the town’s traffic authority, to consider putting speed
bumps or speed humps along the roadway to slow down traffic.
They complained that cars were traveling along the twisty and narrow
roadway at high speeds making it dangerous for cars, pedestrians,
children and buses.
Following public input, the commission asked Mr. Conte to review the
sightlines along Old Mill Road to see if it was suitable for speed
humps or speed bumps.
Mr. Conte and members of the Police Commission have historically been
against speed humps, believing they do not adequately slow down traffic
and can cause problems for snow plows and emergency vehicles.
“The sightlines on Old Mill Road are poor. It would be an obstruction
to put in speed humps. I’m not in favor of them,” Mr. Conte said.
Commissioner Beth Gralnick said the placement of speed humps would be
difficult because of the narrow turns on Old Mill Road.
However, Commissioner Peter Ottomano said if the cul-de-sac idea didn’t
work, speed humps should at least be considered. “This road needs
something. If a dead end is not viable, maybe we should at least
consider speed humps,” he said.
The police department studied traffic on Old Mill Road in recent weeks,
Police Chief John Troxell said, and found cars that were speeding were
going 25 to 42 miles per hour. The posted speed limit is 15 miles per
hour in Weston, 25 miles per hour on the Wilton portion of the road.
Trees could be cleared, and the road could be widened to improve
sightlines, Chief Troxell said, but those things might enhance
speeding, not deter it.
Mr. Conte said the key to turning Old Mill Road into a cul-de-sac would
be to look at the horizontal and vertical lines of the road to see if
they were adequate.
Commissioners acknowledged that it would take a lot of work, approvals
and funding to turn Old Mill Road into a cul-de-sac, but ultimately
voted unanimously to have Mr. Conte and Chief Troxell look into the
feasibility of making Old Mill Road a dead end.
The matter will be discussed further at the commission’s April meeting.
Changes are being made inside
Cobb's Mill Inn
Written by Patricia Gay
Thursday, 02 February 2012 07:12
Cobb’s Mill Inn is undergoing interior renovations.
Owner Drew Friedman told the Planning and Zoning Commission on Jan. 23
that his goal is to open the shuttered restaurant “as soon as you will
Mr. Friedman requested and ultimately received zoning approval from the
commission to allow him to apply for building permits for interior work
on the building at 12 Old Mill Road.
Cobbs Mill Inn is a pre-existing non-conforming use located in the
town’s two-acre residential and farming district. Zoning permits for
any and all proposed uses, related renovation proposals, and new
construction plans need to be reviewed by P&Z as per the
commission’s standard operating procedures.
For years, Cobb’s Mill Inn operated as a restaurant and function hall
facility. It has sat empty since the property was foreclosed on in 2010.
Mr. Friedman, the new owner, requested a zoning change last year to
allow for more uses on the property, but his request was denied by
P&Z following lengthy public hearings with much public opposition.
The public asked Mr. Friedman to run Cobb’s Mill Inn again as a
restaurant and Mr. Friedman told P&Z that is what he intends to do.
P&Z granted zoning approval for some of the renovations being done
to the property, including repairs to the roof, ceiling, floors, window
sills, and gutters. The hot water heater and water pump are being
replaced and the furnace is being repaired.
Cosmetic renovations include cleaning, painting and applying epoxy to
the kitchen floors.
New work includes adding insulation, applying Sheetrock, and adding
washing sinks and a generator.
Mr. Friedman said he plans to remove some trees that fell on the
Mr. Friedman also had a number of proposed exterior renovations he
wanted to make. However, he did not have specific plans and drawings so
P&Z asked him to come back when he had more definite plans.
Some exterior plans under consideration are cutting the brush, and
trimming the bushes for sight line parking, adding a curb cut to access
the lower parking lot, grading the lower parking lot, replacing the
bridge over the Saugatuck, locating the property line on the lower
parking lot and fencing it if needed, creating a trench for a relocated
force main pipe, and moving the curb back to increase the buffer along
Old Mill Road.
In addition to the zoning permit, opening Cobb’s Mill Inn as a
restaurant again will also require a certificate of occupancy from the
building inspector, and approvals from the Westport Weston Health
District, the Conservation Commission and the fire marshal.
HEARING ON CHANGES
TO ZONING NOW OVER AND DONE.
Cobb's Mill Inn, by
waterfall. Used to be ducks,
ducks and swans galore here.
So where is the waterfall on this map? Under the "n" - in
"Turnpike" - the river ponds to its left and then drops down and
narrows after the waterfall.
P&Z postpones Cobb's Mill Inn discussion
Written by Patricia Gay
Thursday, 15 September 2011 16:20
The zone change proposal for Cobb’s
Mill Inn will not be on the agenda
at the Planning and Zoning Commission’s next meeting.
The commission originally intended
to discuss the proposal Monday,
Sept. 19, after scheduling that discussion at its Tuesday, Sept. 6,
However, Stephan Grozinger, P&Z
chairman, said the discussion has
now been postponed. “Because this is an application the public will
comment on, we can’t discuss the issue outside of a public hearing,”
Mr. Grozinger said.
The commission also wants to hear
back from SWRPA, the South Western
Regional Planning Agency, before discussing the application, he added.
A copy of the Cobb’s Mill proposal
was sent to SWRPA for review on
Wednesday, Sept. 7. Mr. Grozinger said it usually takes four weeks to
get a response from SWRPA because it only meets once a month.
“SWRPA will review the proposal and
decide whether it will have an
impact on surrounding towns. SWRPA sometimes provides suggestions to
applications as well,” Mr. Grozinger said.
Drew Friedman, the owner of The
Cobb’s Mill Inn, told the commission on
Sept. 6 that he would like to re-open the building on Old Mill Road as
a fine dining restaurant and function venue, but he would also like to
add overnight guest accommodations to make it a true inn.
Cobb’s Mill is currently a
non-conforming property in a residential
zone. It closed its doors in June 2010 after its former owner fell on
tough economic times.
Mr. Friedman is proposing the
creation of a new zone in Weston — a
Neighborhood Event District — which would allow for restaurants, bed
and breakfast inns, overnight guest accommodations, entertainment, and
Mr. Grozinger said after P&Z
receives a report from SWRPA, the
commission will schedule a public hearing and send written notification
of the hearing to neighbors within 500 feet of the Cobb’s Mill property.
Alert: New owner
of Cobb's Mill Inn proposes zoning changes
Written by Patricia Gay
Thursday, 08 September 2011 16:11
There may be some new things in
store for the old Cobb’s Mill Inn.
The property’s new owner, Drew
Friedman, submitted a proposed text amendment to the Weston Planning
and Zoning Commission on Tuesday, Sept. 6, seeking to create a new zone
— the Neighborhood Event District — for the Cobb’s Mill property on Old
He said he wants to eliminate the
restaurant’s current non-conforming land use status and make it
conforming, as it is currently a business operating in a residential
“The primary goal of this text
amendment is to make its use conforming in order to preserve the
present use at its incredibly beautiful landmark property,” Mr.
Friedman wrote in his proposal to the commission.
Although the current building is
called Cobb’s Mill Inn, it has not operated as an actual guest inn for
many years. Until its closure in 2010, it was operating primarily as a
restaurant, catering and retail business.
The newly-proposed district would
allow Cobb’s Mill Inn to add guest rooms. Other permitted uses for the
Neighborhood Event District are: Food and beverage establishments (not
including drive-through), retail uses, catering, overnight guest
accommodations, bed and breakfast inns, entertainment (excluding adult
oriented entertainment), museums, community educational arts related
activities, and educational displays and programs.
Mr. Friedman said he would not
construct additional structures on the property, but would like to add
some guest rooms on the upper level of the main building for overnight
visitors. “Cobb’s Mill Inn will thereby continue to be an historical
centerpiece of Weston and Connecticut history, enhanced by fine
cuisine, entertainment, social events, and guest rooms. A bonus will be
the community’s participation in educational programs and
demonstrations on culture, nature, art, science, energy, history, and
current events,” Mr. Friedman wrote in his proposal.
Stephan Grozinger, P&Z chairman,
thanked Mr. Friedman for submitting his proposal. “Cobb’s Mill Inn is
an asset to Weston. I’d be happy to receive the application,” he said.
But he also said the zone change
proposal was complex issue and would need to be looked at carefully
with input from the neighbors and the public.
“This application is a big deal for
the commission and for Weston,” he said.
He said the commission would also
review the possibility of creating a Village District as another zoning
alternative for Cobb’s Mill Inn.
Mr. Friedman, a real estate
developer from Westport, said he personally would not be running the
restaurant or inn, but would have a partner or a tenant running the
When asked if he would consider
opening Cobb’s Mill as a restaurant while waiting to see what happens
with the zone change proposal, Mr. Friedman said that is not something
he wants to do. “I will have a partner or a lessee with a vision, and I
want to tailor the building to their use,” he said.
Mort Schindel, a member of the
public who was in the audience, expressed support for Mr. Friedman.
“The restaurant is a great asset to this town and we should do what we
can for it,” he said.
The commissioners voted unanimously
to accept Mr. Friedman’s application, but did not set a public hearing
date for it. Instead, they will discuss the proposed zone change
amongst themselves at their meeting on Sept. 19.
Joan Lewis photo
Weston's Cobb's Mill Inn sells for $1.76 million
Written by Patricia Gay
Thursday, 08 September 2011 16:04
Drew Friedman of Weston recently purchased The Cobb's Mill Inn
for $1.76 million. —Patricia Gay photo
A shuttered landmark Weston restaurant may soon be back in business.
The Cobb’s Mill Inn, which has been sitting vacant on Old Mill Road
since last year, has a new owner.
Drew Friedman, a real estate developer from Westport, and principal of
12 Old Mill Road, LLC, bought the property and buildings for
$1,760,000, according to a deed recorded in the Weston Town Clerk’s
office on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
The property had been foreclosed on by its mortgage holder, Fairfield
County Bank, and was conveyed to Mr. Friedman from the bank’s holding
company, Real Estate Holdings, LLC.
Mr. Friedman took out a $1,350,000 mortgage from Fairfield County Bank
for the purchase and said he intends to re-open Cobb’s Mill Inn as
He would also like to restore the property’s use as an inn. “The Weston
community really wants Cobb’s Mill Inn,” Mr. Friedman said in a
He is planning to discuss the status of the property with the Weston
Planning and Zoning Commission at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept.
6. “The property is currently a non-conforming use in a residential
neighborhood. I would like to see it become a conforming use in a
separate zone, like Weston’s business center,” he said.
While, Mr. Friedman said he would not change the property’s permitted
use as a restaurant and catering facility, he would like a “text
amendment” made to the zoning regulations to allow for some guest rooms
and accommodations. “My ultimate goal would be to make it a conforming
use,” Mr. Friedman said.
P&Z Chairman Stephan Grozinger said he has not reviewed a formal
application yet from Mr. Friedman, but would welcome him attending the
commission’s meeting on Sept. 6 to discuss Cobb’s Mill Inn. “I look
forward to working with him,” Mr. Grozinger said.
A long history
Until it closed its doors in June 2010, Cobb’s Mill Inn was one of the
oldest continuous running restaurants in Connecticut. Set on the banks
of a scenic waterfall, it won numerous awards from Wine Spectator and
Connecticut magazines and was frequently named the most romantic
restaurant in Fairfield County.
The property has played an important role in Weston since the 1700s.
It originally started as a lumber, grist and cider mill, owned and
operated by Eleazor Sturges and Ephraim Jackson.
In the 1800s, it was known as Davis’ Mill and later as Carver’s Mill,
where rye, wheat, apples and timber, harvested from Weston fields,
orchards and forests, were ground, pressed or cut.
Lumber activity ceased in the early 1900s due to a severe blight that
devastated the American chestnut tree. In 1912, it was bought by Frank
Cobb, editor-in-chief of the old New York World newspaper, who used the
property for swimming and ice skating.
In 1927, Moira Wallace and Sydney Dyke opened an antiques shop and tea
room in the former mill.
Then in 1936, Alice DeLamar and Jacques deWolfe converted the building
to a country inn and fine dining establishment. Among their many
improvements were two fine mahogany and pewter bars rescued from the
cruise ship Normandie, which were installed in the Tavern Room.
In the 20th Century, Cobb’s Mill Inn was host to five U.S. presidents
and numerous celebrities. It was owned and operated from 1952 to 1986
by Julie P. Jones, and from 1986 to 2006 by the Cocchia family of
Cobb’s Mill Inn was also featured in an award-winning Weston Forum
series, and subsequent book by Julie O’Connor, called The Doors of
In 2006, Weston attorney George Guidera and his son-in-law, James
Magee, bought the property and restaurant business for $3.25 million.
At the time, Mr. Guidera said he planned to enhance the food, service
and atmosphere, in order to make Cobb’s Mill Inn the finest dining
destination in Connecticut.
However, as the economy deteriorated, so did Mr. Guidera’s plans. On
June 1, 2010, Stamford Superior Court issued a judgment of strict
foreclosure against Cobb’s Mill Inn.
“We were on our way to achieving our goals when the economy dealt us a
blow of the severest kind,” Mr. Guidera said at the time of the
Mr. Friedman, the new owner, said he had been interested in Cobb’s Mill
for “some time” before he eventually bought it.
With a purchase price of $1.76 million — approximately $1.49 million
less than what Mr. Guidera paid in 2006 — the price may have been right.
“I had been interested in buying it some time ago, but the price was
out of range. When it went into foreclosure it seemed to make more
economic sense at this point to me,” he said.
IMPLEMENTATION IS KEY - NEW PAGE ON THIS
HOW TO MEASURE WESTON
TOWN PLAN 2010 IMPLEMENTATION PROGRESS: first, note that the more
specific, lot-by-lot existing land use
map 1999 was not a product of GIS - shall we spend the big bucks
for GIS? Next, the School Plan - how
can the whole community make use of features in this redo of the Center
of Town? Connecticut has history - and
its architecture tells the story; barns are top of features that
should be preserved - one
feature not included is discussion of the architectural
vocabulary of CT and its COVERED
BRIDGES. What is Weston's planning
obligation here, if any? Next, as Weston High
School doubles in size...efficiency in
infrastructure changes, perhaps, 21st century must-do items become
essential in an economic downturn, especially; and a link
to Building Committee...
Weston's Plan of Conservation and Development: The public weighs in
by Patricia Gay and Kimberly Donnelly
Wednesday, 12 May 2010 12:35
Community members had their chance
to comment on the new Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) at a
joint public hearing held by the Planning and Zoning Commission and the
Board of Selectmen on Monday night.
There were two recurring themes at
the hearing: Don’t put commercial development at the bus depot on the
corner of School and Weston roads; and don’t change the rural and
bucolic character of Weston.
State law requires each town in
Connecticut to generate a new POCD every 10 years. Weston’s last plan
was adopted on June 30, 2000.
At the outset of the hearing, which
was attended by roughly 30 residents, P&Z Chairman Stephan
Grozinger said the commission had two choices when it came to drafting
the plan — they could do it the easy way or they could do it the hard
way, and they chose the hard way.
“We could have hired an outside
planning agency and used their boiler plate language, but instead, we
wrote the plan ourselves and restructured it to make it Weston
specific,” Mr. Grozinger said.
A special committee was formed to
draft the plan and met diligently for the past two years, holding
public hearings, workshops, and creating and sending a survey around
town to gather public input.
The committee included current
P&Z members Katie Gregory, Ridge Young, Joe Limone, Jane Connolly,
Dave Allen, Don Saltzman, and Mr. Grozinger, as well as Tom Failla from
the Conservation Commission.
In addition, former P&Z members
Paul Heifetz and Dan Gilbert contributed to the plan when they were on
the commission. Land Use Assistant Tracy Kulikowski and Planning
Secretary Joan Lewis also assisted.
The new plan sets out the policies,
goals, and standards for the physical and economic development of
Weston. It is divided into several sections: Natural resources,
economic development, housing development, community facilities, and
The plan in its entirety can be
accessed and downloaded from the town’s Web site www.weston-ct.com.
The first public speaker was Dana
Levin, an 11-year resident of Georgetown Road, and member of the school
board. She said she loves Weston because it is a small, rural
community, and she wants it to stay that way.
She objected to a section of the
plan that recommended commercial development of a five and one-half
acre tract across from Weston Center, currently occupied by the Onion
Barn, the school bus depot, and an historical structure.
Lora Hover stressed the importance
of enforcing zoning regulations. In particular, she objected to developing
the bus depot on the corner of School and Weston roads because it abuts
a playground at Hurlbutt Elementary School.
“I object to putting a commercial
development against a school playground. It would be unconscionable to
put a shopping center there,” she said.
She explained that the playground is
used by young children and for school events and soccer games, and it
could be dangerous having commercial development in close proximity.
Fellow school board member Sonya
Stack also objected to it.
Ms. Levin also cautioned P&Z
about some of the statistics in the plan. “It contains school
enrollment projections from 2004 — that’s more than six years old. If
you’re going to use these numbers they should be the most current
ones,” Ms. Levin said.
Ray Rauth of Georgetown Road
mentioned the importance of the track at Weston High School. “The track
should be mentioned as a community facility in the plan because it
provides an excellent resource for good exercise and health,” he said.
In conjunction with the Weston
Senior Center, Mr. Rauth formed a senior walking club, which, he said,
loves to walk on the track. He also recommended forming a committee to
work on biking and pedestrian access in town.
Neil Horner of Catbrier Road asked
how many of the undeveloped parcels in Weston were buildable.
Mr. Grozinger said there were 500
parcels in Weston that were still undeveloped. He said some of the land
might not be developable, but it was uncertain how much.
“The short answer is, we don’t know.
Short of doing a topography study of each parcel, we won’t know. We
assume it’s less than 500 parcels, 500 is a maximum figure,” he said.
[Bill Bartley of Riverbank Road said
he wanted Weston to stay just the way it is. —Patricia Gay photo]
Bill Bartley of Riverbank Road said
he wanted Weston to stay just the way it is. —Patricia Gay photo
Amy Sanborn of Old Hyde Road asked
how much of the plan was predicated on P&Z’s straw poll opinion
survey which was distributed through The Weston Forum. “I happen to
know that some people stuffed the boxes,” Ms. Sanborn said.
In addition, she did not want the
town to take on the role of developer for the Fromson-Strassler
property. She also objected to affordable housing being constructed in
town unless it was located on the town’s “periphery.”
Mr. Grozinger said the survey was
not taken as “gospel,” but since it had 733 responses it was useful.
Lora Hover of Beaverbrook Lane said
that no matter what regulations might be included in the plan, if there
wasn’t adequate enforcement, the regulations were meaningless.
On the subject of taxes, Don Strange
of Scatacook Trail asked the commission to look at some options that
could provide tax relief without impacting the rural character of the
town. “The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive,” he said.
Rick Ross of Patchen Lane said some
additional economic development would improve the quality of life in
Weston, as did Nina Daniel of Goodhill Road, who asked the commission
to prioritize ways parcels were developed to alleviate the tax burden.
But even though some residents
supported additional development in town, others were adamantly opposed.
Bill Bartley of Riverbank Road and
Lynn Langlois of Tower Drive said Weston should stay just as it is.
“Why do we need more development? We’re 10 minutes from Westport and
Wilton,” Mr. Bartley said.
Helen de Keijzer of Salem Road said
despite the rural character of the town, she felt Weston had lost some
of its sense of community. “Some development may help with the quality
of life,” she said.
At the end of the hearing, Margaret
Wirtenberg, who had worked on several POCDs in the past, thanked the
committee for its hard work, a sentiment shared by others in the
audience. “This is a thoughtful, well-written plan,” Ms. Wirtenberg
A few days earlier
On Thursday, May 6, Mr. Grozinger
met with the Board of Selectmen to hear any concerns or questions the
selectmen had with the proposed plan.
The selectmen had several specific
language change suggestions, and a few questions about where certain
data came from.
Mostly, though, they were concerned
with a few sections of the plan that seemed to the selectmen to focus
too much on ways the town could offset future tax increases.
Selectman Dan Gilbert talked about
economic development versus tax policy.
“If it was worded, ‘how could we
potentially increase the tax base through economic development or
commercial development,’ I think that’s a valid question, but I think
that line, ‘how can Weston control property taxes’ is out of the
purview of this document,” Dr. Gilbert said.
First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said
she was concerned that there was no mention of the town’s
infrastructure and buildings. For example, she said, there is no
discussion about upgrading the communications center or moving the Town
She was also puzzled why there was
no mention about a town cemetery, since it has been under discussion
Selectman Dave Muller warned that
P&Z’s survey, while helpful, should not be the only basis for
recommendations. He, too, mentioned that he knew of people who filled
out multiple surveys in order to skew some of the data.
Mr. Muller also said he was a little
disappointed the plan does not take a stand on the feasibility of some
of its suggestions, especially when it comes to developing the town
“This is supposed to be the document
that lays out the framework by which we grow and by which we change. So
I’d like some indication of what the feasibility of using some of these
properties and what they can be used for.”
Mr. Grozinger answered that because
the plan is a legal document, the commission felt it did not want to
include anything that might seem like it was prejudging any future
applications that might come before P&Z.
As for a full feasibility study, Mr.
Grozinger said the commission was not given enough money for that to be
All of the selectmen praised the
work done on the POCD, and thanked all involved for their exhaustive
P&Z plans to discuss the
comments and issues raised at the selectmen’s meeting and the public
hearing at its next meeting, Monday May, 17. The final plan is expected
to be adopted by June 30.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE WESTON TOWN PLAN: How did Vision Appraisals deal with
the drop in home values - nationally back to values of 2004?
Didn't affect us too much (Oct. 1, 2008 date of assessment).
Assessor's recommends VISION APPRAISALS, "Phishing"
VISION APPRAISALS website (don't open any e-mails from them--actually,
any links within these fraudulent
concur; another round (every 5 years now) of full
re-appraisal--web site, www.visionappraisal.com.
being re-assessed - reliance on septic holding capacity and natural
of wells still preferred policy. How "Goals" of the TOWN PLAN
been affected by Referenda, CT DEP, economy and outside influences -
"Smart Growth" ideas; some events having impact are:
Mother Nature department:
Source Pollution; how does this work in the 21st century?
Aquifer Protection designation to P&Z as agency to draw
up rules for small Aquarion well field near Coley Cemetery;
- Latest from the USGS on supply of
- Latest on water use in USA:
RUNOFF detained by - wetlands;
- The Feds: Army
Corps...their approvals received mid-November
go-ahead by State of CT "S.F.U." and all others in hand;
- Supreme Court decision on wetlands not
Government: why do you think the State of Connecticut took so
long to update its population projections?
- Link to data center: http://ctsdc.uconn.edu/
- Link to OPM
for State of Connecticut Plan of
and Development 2005-2010;
Western Region on-line sub-section of CT PLAN map;
- Weston in the new CT
PLAN OF C&D;
- Statement from the
CT Plan that explains why Weston zoning is not as inefficient as we
might think it is.
- And the one thing we lack (especially now with
Cartbridge out of service): covered bridges;
we've still got a few barns!
- School Building
Committee meeting notes by "About Town" - news;
(2003) unanimously Bisceglie
Park plan without septic treatment outflow;
- OK's School Road site
capacity to irrigate fields at Morehouse Farm Park...
- then on June 6, 2006,
decision to increase the volume of water allowed from existing
irrigation, after experience and State of Connecticut monitored water
HOW THE SCHOOL
PROJECT WORKED OUT
After WIS opens and WHS gets
"Ribbon-Cutting, things appear on time (sort of) and on budget (sort
of). A year on
into construction phase, buildings rise, problems surfaced and got
etc. Now almost five years since "Yes, Yes, Yes" we have a new
day on School Road! Still needing attention: old section of
Weston High School roof, WHS auditorium upgrades, proper drainage for
Revson Field - still a problem 2010!
MORE POLITICAL PHASE:
bonding issue thought to be resolved - "yes,
yes, yes" wins on Nov. 15, 2001; Referendum to overturn Item
#2 from Nov. 15, 2001 (3-4-5 school) called for April 22, 2003 fails -
P&Z adopts their new
Town Plan 2010...prior to
this there was OUR version:
RESEARCH TOPICS: Where does the cost of legal services
RELL SIGNS IT, P.A.05-205 NOW THE LAW! SOME INSIDE STUFF BELOW...watch for what the veto-proof
Legislature does in '07.
OLD NEWS: The
a statement of the development, resource management and public
policies for the State.
Implementer bill passed House with two changes:
one is a statement that there is no
fiscal impact (after some dates are stretched, etc.); second,
relating to D.E.P. having dominance over D.E.C.D. on the subject of
of the State of CT": http://www.cga.ct.gov/2005/amd/h/2005HB-06570-R00HF-AMD.htm
THE BILL "IN CONCURRENCE" WITH THE HOUSE! READ ABOUT LEGISLATIVE
No. 822 in Senate...
version (File 506) as summarized by OLR, complete with all reports,
comments, votes...water diversion issue dealt with in Amendment
'F' - previous text: sHB6570;
- O.F.A. fiscal
note (a.k.a. the kiss of death - ultimately erased via Amendment
'A' ); check out previous
OLR report which says:
referred the bill (then File 91) to the Environment Committee on April
5. On April 11, the committee reported a substitute that added the
that any inconsistencies between a local plan of C&D and the six
management principles, or the regional or state plans of C&D shall
not be cause for denying a state environmental permit."
before Planning and Development Committee February 23rd (HB6570).
CT Plan of C&D 1998-2003 to continue in force meanwhile. Link
to Continuing Committee on State Planning testimony...
"ABOUT TOWN" followed this
long effort to gain approval for the Policy Plan: SWRPA's
Regional Plan adopted in 2006 was ruled "not inconsistent with" the new
State Plan of C&D! And Weston P&Z's new Town Plan 2010
was relued "not inconsistent with" SWRPA's!
84 - GEOSPATIAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS (GIS) COUNCIL
bill establishes a 21-member
council to coordinate, within available appropriations, a GIS capacity
for the state, regional planning agencies, municipalities and others as
needed. In doing so, the council must consult with these parties. The
must guide and assist state and local officials involved in
economic development; land use planning; environmental, cultural, and
resource management; delivering public services; and other areas as
coordinating the GIS capacity,
the council specify how the GIS must created, maintain, and disseminate
geographic information or imagery that (1) precisely identifies certain
locations or areas or (2) creates maps or information profiles in
or electronic form about them. The council must also promote a forum
GIS information can be centralized and distributed.
council may apply for or accept
and spend federal funds on the state's behalf through OPM.
the table shows, the council consists
mostly of state officials and specific GIS users appointed by
leaders. The council can add more members, as it deems necessary. The
authority must fill any vacancies. The members are not paid for their
but are reimbursed for necessary expenses they incur while working on
System Council Membership - Appointee and Appointing Authority
The bill requires the governor to select
the council's chairman from among its members. The chairman must
the council's affairs.
OPM Secretary (Statutory)
Environmental Protection Commissioner
Economic and Community Development
Transportation Commissioner, (Statutory)
Public Safety Commissioner, (Statutory)
Public Health Commissioner, (Statutory)
Public Works Commissioner, (Statutory)
Agriculture Commissioner, (Statutory)
Emergency Management and Homeland
Security Commissioner, (Statutory)
Social Services Commissioner, (Statutory)
Department of Information Technology
Chief Information Officer, (Statutory)
Connecticut State University System
University of Connecticut President,
Connecticut Siting Council Executive
Public Utility Control Authority
Military Department Adjacent General,
GIS User representing town with
over 60,000 people, (Senate President Pro Tempore)
GIS User representing a regional
planning agency, (Senate Minority Leader)
GIS User representing a town with
between 30,000 and 60,000 people, (Governor)
GIS User representing a town with
fewer than 30,000 people, (House Speaker)
GIS User, (House Minority Leader)
council must meet at least once
a month and may hold additional meetings as its rules require. The
or any three members can call special meetings if they notify the other
members in writing at least 48 hours before the meeting.
council must, within available
appropriations, provide technical assistance to towns and regional
agencies for developing GISs. It must recommend how the GIS it
can be improved.
January 1, 2006, the council
must report annually on its activities to the Planning and Development
DATE: Upon passage
85 - LAND USE EDUCATION
bill requires the Office of Policy
and Management secretary to report on the land use training and
programs available to members of local land use agencies and the extent
to which members participate in them. He may include any
for improving or expanding the programs, including recommendations for
changing state law.
preparing the report, the secretary
must consult with:
environmental protection commissioner,
Council on Soil and Water Conservation
regional planning agencies,
regional councils of governments,
regional councils of elected officials,
UConn's Agricultural Extension
Connecticut Chapter of the American
UConn's Center of Land Use Education
and Research, and
Rural Development Council
DATE: Upon passage
State Plan of Conservation and Development adopted - earlier Session
of NEMO") is Weston
map showing changes in land cover between 1985 and 2002, tables.
TOWN PLAN REVIEW AND WHERE WE THINK THE TOWN STANDS ON THE
6-19-00, available at Town Hall; effective 6-30-00...WESTON TOWN PLAN
CONSERVATION & DEVELOPMENT. Until a copy was mailed to every
household in Weston in December 2000, all citizens had to do to read
the comfort of their home) the official DRAFT of the Weston Town Plan
Conservation and Development 2000 (which was revised minimally for
etc. and then ADOPTED effective June 30, 2000). A visit the Town
of Weston WEBsite was all it took! Copies were also available (of
the text) in Town Hall. To link to handy map of U.S. Census Block
Groups 2000, and courtesy of the South Western Regional Planning
including a sample of some data for Weston, can be found by clicking HERE.
on the affordable housing issue. Link to "Recommended
State Plan of Conservation & Development 2004-2009," which
heavily on Smart Growth and Property Tax Commission Final Report,
and other recent reports. This new Plan was not adopted by the
Assembly in a timely fashion, but will be up for Public Hearing
7, 2005 (Monday) at 5pm in the L.O.B. Room 2A...
MORPHED SWRPA? LOOKS LIKE IT!
- 6629 merged into 6706 - after car tax killed... "shall
be restructured to form a regional council of governments (Regional
Planning organizations now to be all COGs. Starting
Section 250 of this "implementer bill" 6706, you can find
what a regional planning commission is ("may be created"). NOT SO
FAST - at right, the official geography of merged COGs. M.P.O.
boundaries may be something entirely different...stay tuned.
SWRPA NO" MORE" (PUN INTENDED)
A NEW DAY IN THE
STAMFORD-BRIDGEPORT METROPOLITAN AREA - by January 2015
To be or not to be, that is the question...
This matter would, we suspect, eventually
go to a Town Meeting in Weston in order to change the form of regional
planning organization from an RPA. Newspaper reports on April 20,
meeting here (most recently published at top). Five of the eight
towns must, we believe, OK the changeover. For example, the five
shoreline communities with mainline Metro-North train stops might agree
to go COG...then it would not matter if Weston felt otherwise.
special meeting to discuss the
proposal to convert SWRPA to a council of governments was held on
evening, April 20th at 7:30 p.m. in the Senior Center Auditorium on the
Second Floor of the Stamford Government Center, 888 Washington
(northwest corner of Route 1) in Stamford.
documents written by staff of
SWRPA provide some background on the issues surrounding this proposal:
FIRST DOCUMENT (RPA-CEO-COG
SECOND DOCUMENT ("Pros-Cons"
RPO to COG conversion).
Read about the by now old news here:
WESTPORT NEWS ARTICLE, Friday,
April 29, 2005
WESTON FORUM EDITORIAL, April
28, 2005 (in addition
to long story on front page with jump to back page); Weston a
NORWALK HOUR EDITORIAL, Sunday,
April 24, 2005
On-line newspaper report on
showdown (WestportNow) here;
Disagree with Population Projections
By Jennifer Connic
Posted 05/17/07 at 05:05 PM
Westport officials said today they disagree with a report from the
University of Connecticut that predicts the town’s population will grow
by almost 20 percent by 2030.
The report from the Connecticut State Data Center shows Westport’s
population to grow by 19.3 percent from 26,610 in 2005 to 31,757 in
2030 (See WestportNow May 16). But town officials are saying they
disagree with the report and do not
anticipate the significant growth over the next 20 years.
Planning and Zoning Director Laurence Bradley said the dramatic
increase does not fit with the model they are using with the update to
the Town Plan of Conservation and Development.
"We believe the population is going to get smaller and older,” he said.
“We just don’t see (the growth) happening. The projections don’t fit
In order to have the type of growth projected by the UConn report, he
said, there would need to be a significant increase in housing.
First Selectman Gordon Joseloff said the town is 98 percent developed,
and it doesn’t leave a lot of room for the sort of growth projected by
the UConn demographers.
“We’re not going to see hundreds of housing units built,” he said. “The
town plan doesn’t call for it, and it won’t call for it.”
The report itself is surprising, Joseloff said, because the town’s
population decreased over the previous 30 years before 2000.
“It calls into question the basis of the projections,” he said. “It’s
not necessarily accurate.”
Town officials have received population projections previously from
various organizations, he said, and they never call for an increase as
large as the one projected in the UConn report.
Planning group aims for
more unified voice: SWRPA considers changing structure
By Mark Ginocchio
April 21, 2005
STAMFORD -- A old debate was rekindled
last night when elected officials discussed a proposal to create a
for the region.
The South Western Regional Planning
Agency held a special meeting to discuss changing the organization so
led by the eight elected officials in the region.
A Council of Governments is designed
to give the region a more unified voice for discussing issues such as
homeland security and public health, but opponents of the conversion
a council would strip the municipalities of their individual authority.
"Under a COG, there is no voice of
the people," Greenwich Town Planner Diane Fox said to the group of
officials, planning and zoning commissioners and SWRPA members during
night's meeting at the Stamford Government Center. "In SWRPA, public
SWRPA's current membership consists
of the agency's board members and 22 representatives from the eight
as appointed by elected officials. Members are from the town's
planning and zoning commissions and the general public.
The number seats is based on population:
Norwalk and Stamford each have four seats; Greenwich and Westport own
seats; and the other four towns have two seats.
A Council of Governments would give
each municipality an equal vote and would consist only of mayors and
selectmen. A conversion would require a 60 percent approval from the
There are currently seven Council
of Governments and five regional planning associations in the state.
In January, the chief elected officials
and several SWRPA board members attended a presentation of the role of
COGs by James Butler, executive director of the Southeastern
Council of Governments in Norwich.
Supporters of a conversion said if
SWRPA became a Council of Governments, the organization would better
regional needs by directly involving elected officials.
"We need to consider new issues of
regional concern," Norwalk Mayor Alex Knopp said. "Anthrax and smallpox
don't respect town bodies. It's a false picture of how we live to just
say it's always town-to-town."
Knopp said the conversion would formally
recognized a process that is already in place. The eight leaders now
to approve transportation projects, but often informally discuss other
SWRPA executive director Robert Wilson
said the only thing that would change through a conversion is the
"A COG would have the same authority
as a RPA," he said.
But opponents feared a Council of
Governments could become a "county government," and other elected
were unconvinced of the need to convert. County government was
in Connecticut in 1960.
"The current regional structure we
have is more effective than a COG will ever be," said Dan Gilbert, a
of the Weston Planning and Zoning commission. "I'm always concerned
there are chief elected officials looking for more authority."
Because of how the votes are counted,
Gilbert said Council of Governments decisions would come down to "five
votes to win, four votes to lose." He was concerned other
may petition the state to join the southwest's COG.
Wilson said other municipalities
also could petition to join a regional planning agency and it was
there would ever be such a scenario.
Others still sought a reason for
"We don't see a problem that would
be solved by moving to a COG," said Greenwich First Selectman James
"It's fair to say this has no chance in passing in our town meeting
a case hasn't been made for a need."
Westport First Selectwoman Diane
Farrell said a conversion would better streamline the work of the
of Governments. She also wanted to dispel the possibility of
losing their voice in a council of government.
"We are all beholden to our constituents,"
Farrell said. "Nothing about this usurps individual rights and
There are more COGs than RPAs in the state and it hasn't happened yet."
1/04 - CLEAR Launches New Series of Land Cover Data for Connecticut
/The University of Connecticut, College of Agriculture and Natural
for Land use Education And Research (CLEAR) has just released a new
of four dates of land cover data (1985, 1990, 1995 and 2002) for the
of Connecticut. These data, prepared from medium resolution satellite
provide for the first time a consistently defined and interpreted set
land cover data that will allow state, regional and local planners to
and study landscape changes over a seventeen year period. The data will
be valuable to many organizations and government agencies as the state
increasingly begins to deal with issues concerning development, sprawl,
traffic congestion, forest loss and other aspects of landscape change.
The land cover
data were interpreted from Landsat satellite imagery. Sensors aboard
satellite detect radiation reflected from the earth’s surface and store
these data as images. The images, which are made up of millions of
with a ground resolution of 30 meters (~ 100 feet) on a side, are
via computer programs and human expertise into land cover maps. Land
as its name implies, shows the "covering" of the landscape. This is to
be distinguished from land use, which is what is permitted, practiced
intended for a given area. For example, an area of low-density rural
land use, as permitted by local zoning, likely will appear as forest in
a Landsat image – there are a lot more trees than houses. Similarly,
Hartford, which is classified mostly as a “Developed” land cover is a
of uses that include offices, restaurants, stores, apartments, roads,
lots, etc. From the satellite image it’s not possible to determine what
the land uses are but we can describe the area as being developed.
The land cover
data include eleven consistently defined classes and include: developed
areas, turf and grass, other grasses and agriculture, deciduous forest,
coniferous forest, water, non-forested wetlands, forested wetlands,
wetlands, barren areas, and utility rights-of-way. In preparing the
care was taken to insure the accuracy of land cover classifications
one time period to the next thereby making it possible to conduct
The land cover
maps and a number of interpreted products can be viewed on the CLEAR
and each of the four dates of data can be downloaded for use in
2/04 - New
NEMO Program Coordinator Announced
have someone to call! After a nation-wide search for a NEMO Program
it turns out that we had only to look down the hall. John Rozum, an
Planner and our first and only National NEMO Network Coordinator,
to throw his hat into the ring after our original search, this past
did not produce quite the right candidate.
Master's degrees at the University of Arizona in Ecology and Land Use
John worked as an environmental and community planner in Michigan for
years. In 1999 he came to UConn to lead the National NEMO Network,
at the time was just starting to take shape. Under John's tender
the Network has grown like a weed, going from 9 to 34 programs in four
years. While John was nurturing the National Network, he was also
into local planning in the Nutmeg State.
He is a member
of East Haddam's Planning and Zoning Commission, the East Haddam
Planning Group and the Eightmile River Wild and Scenic Study Management
Committee. In addition, John has provided many important contributions
to Connecticut NEMO during his tenure as National Coordinator,
leading the development of the Community Resource Inventory educational
support of the rest of the team, John made the decision to focus on
Connecticut's communities, even though he'll miss the national program.
Having recently celebrated our 10-year anniversary, the NEMO Program is
at an important crossroads. With John at the helm, the NEMO Team will
short order reshape the program to keep all that has made it successful
while adding new ideas, new services, new information and new
into the mix.
link to Weston Land Cover 1995 NEMO map!
Steal Connecticut Land Cover Maps!
No need for
larceny, you can download the maps and information on Connecticut’s
Landscape Project for free on the CLEAR website. Here you will find
information on how the data were created, some preliminary
fact sheets, frequently asked questions, as well as ways to download
GIS information for those geospatially inclined. If you don't have the
latest GIS software on your computer, no worries. The website also
an interactive mapping section that allows you to view, query and print
the maps using nothing more than your internet browser. So grab your
beverage and point your browser to the CLEAR website to learn more
Connecticut's changing landscape.
140-144-WASTEWATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICTS
This bill allows
municipalities to establish by ordinance decentralized wastewater
districts. It establishes conditions
be met before a town can create such a district, including approval of
an engineering plan by the DEP commissioner with concurring approval by
the commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH). It lists
regulations, and criteria that a town can apply to such a district. It
requires DPH to conduct any oversight or monitoring of these districts
within available appropriations.
The bill requires
a town water pollution control authority to include in its water
control plan the designation and boundary of any decentralized
management district it establishes and to describe any programs where
local health director manages subsurface sewage disposal systems. The
requires the authority to ensure the operation and management of any
wastewater management district not owned by the municipality.
By law, municipalities,
through their water pollution control authorities, can establish and
rules and regulations governing sewerage systems; the bill requires any
such rules or regulations regarding decentralized systems to be
by the local health director before taking effect. Also by law, an
can order a building owner to connect to an available sewerage system;
the bill allows it to order an owner to construct an alternative sewage
treatment system and connect the building to it.
The bill also
requires a municipality to include in its ordinance remediation
to regulate alternative sewage treatment systems.
The bill states
that any area designated by municipal ordinance as a decentralized
management district is not considered
to be a public
sewer under the Public Health Code. It also states that its provisions
must not be construed to limit the authority of a local health director
or the commissioners of DEP or DPH.
The bill defines
a "decentralized system" as a managed subsurface sewage disposal
managed alternative sewage treatment system, or community sewerage
that discharges less than 5,000 gallons of sewage per day, are used to
collect and treat domestic sewage, and involve discharges from a
into the state's ground waters.
a "decentralized wastewater management district" as an area of a
designated through a municipal ordinance when an engineering report
that existing subsurface sewage disposal systems may be detrimental to
public health or the environment and decentralized systems are required
and the report is approved by the DEP commissioner with concurring
by the DPH commissioner after consultation with the local health
an "alternative sewage treatment system" as one serving one or more
that uses treatment methods other than a subsurface sewage disposal
and discharges into the state's ground waters.
"remediation standards" as pollutant limits, performance requirements,
design parameters, or technical standards applying
sewage discharges in a decentralized wastewater district for improving
wastewater treatment to protect public health and the environment.
the definition of a "community sewerage system" to a system serving two
or more, rather than one or more, residences in separate structures not
connected to a municipal sewerage system or connected as a distinct and
separately managed part of such a system.
includes a decentralized system in a decentralized wastewater
district established under the bill's provisions under the definition
a sewerage system.
and regulations in the Public Health Code, not changed by this bill,
related terms. A "subsurface sewage disposal system" is a septic tank,
leaching system and the additional necessary pumps, siphons, collection
sewers, and groundwater control system. An "alternative on-site sewage
treatment system" is one serving one or more buildings on one property
using treatment methods other than subsurface sewage treatment and
into state waters.
For Municipality To Establish District
must act after approval of the engineering report by the DEP
with concurrence from the DPH commissioner in consultation with the
health director. The engineering report must have determined that
subsurface sewage disposal systems may be detrimental to public health
or the environment and that decentralized systems are required. The
must act in conjunction with its water pollution control authority.
Of The Ordinance
The bill requires
the ordinance to include remediation standards for the design,
and installation of alternative sewage treatment systems and standards
for the effective supervision, management, control, operation, and
of alternative sewage treatment systems within a decentralized district
that are consistent with any DEP permit, order, or recommendation.
The bill allows
the ordinance to include, with the local health director's approval:
and technical standards for the design and construction of subsurface
systems that are more stringent than those imposed by the state Public
for the local health director to order the upgrade of subsurface sewage
treatment systems according to the remediation and
for the local health director to establish criteria for the abandonment
of substandard subsurface sewage disposal systems;
for the local health director to order the owner of a substandard
sewage disposal system not complying with the remediation or technical
standards or other criteria to abandon the substandard system so the
pollution control authority can order him to connect to a sewerage
established by the local health director for effective supervision,
control, operation, and maintenance of managed subsurface sewage
systems within a decentralized district; and
for the water pollution control authority to enact and amend
following approval by the local health director, governing the
management, control, operation, and maintenance of the decentralized
October 1, 2003
news...will this assure that the heating in the Conservation Officer's
space is warm enough for employees and visitors in winter?
Westport Weston Health
District (WWHD) holding office hours in Town Hall Annex.
The sanitarian for the Westport Weston Health District (WWHD) will be
holding office hours in Weston every Wednesday between 10 a.m. and noon
at the Weston Town Hall Annex, 24 School Road. No appointment is
The sanitarian will be available to answer questions regarding septic
systems, wells and building modifications. Residents can pick up
Health District project application forms in the Building Department,
Town Hall Annex, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For
more information, call the Health District at 227-9571.
Recommended reading as well (by
"About Town") from Sunday's Hartford Courant editorial page:
Link to pdf
House Bill 6570
Arrest Connecticut Sprawl
Despite growing awareness of the
damaging effects of uncontrolled development scattered over the
Connecticut has done little to address the problems posed by
We hope lawmakers get serious this legislative session about giving the
state and municipalities effective tools to cope with random
Proposed legislation would:
cities of more than 100,000
to adopt a two-tier property tax system under which urban land would be
taxed at a higher rate than buildings. This hybrid approach discourages
owners from holding vacant parcels and encourages commercial or
development because of the tax bonus. The system has produced
results in Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania.
a tax burden analysis.
Connecticut is among a minority of states that fail to take advantage
computer analyses to show how proposed taxes would affect people in
income group. Without this valuable tool, lawmakers operate in the dark
about the real impact of new taxes.
a coordinated state-local
geographic information system - a computer method that overlays data
sewers, power lines, soil type and other information to give a snapshot
of land parcels.
and expand state, regional
and local plans of development to facilitate rational decisions and
the economic potential of, for example, rail and bus lines.
the bill would require "integration of planning across all levels of
to bring about smart growth.
one key legislative
ingredient was dropped under pressure from homebuilders. It would have
authorized a statewide "build-out" analysis to show what towns might
like if every parcel were developed to the maximum permitted by current
zoning. Such a survey would expose the impact of unrestrained growth on
schools, roads, water, open space and public safety. That provision
course, each town could hire consultants
to carry out such a study, but that would subvert the desirable goal of
regional and statewide anti-sprawl planning. A statewide study might
$1 million, but it will be money well spent if the result is increased
awareness and better planning.
broad coalition of civic, religious
and business groups now recognizes the dangers of random sprawl and the
need to channel development in reasonable ways.
housing and commercial
projects flung across the landscape require a huge public investment in
added roads, sewers, police protection and other services. They also
longer commutes - clogging highways and worsening air pollution.
random development in one of the smallest states in the nation chews up
farmland, destroys open space and damages scenic vistas.
development to urban areas
with existing infrastructure is the sensible approach. There is nothing
draconian about the proposed smart growth legislation. It would give
state additional tools and authority to make rational decisions about
future of Connecticut's landscape.
County group aims to halt
By Ryan Jockers, Greenwich TIME
February 10, 2004
County are uniting to form a coalition to combat sprawl and the
of historic structures.
Fairfield County Preservation
Trust will undertake its mission later this year. Organizers of the
established nonprofit organization still have to form a board of
raise private funds, hire a small staff and set up an office. The
group has support from historical societies countywide and has secured
a $25,000 grant from Westport-based Newman's Own. Area
and area historical society members formed the coalition after
a trend in demolition and insensitive redevelopment that was tarnishing
the Gold Coast's charms.
thing that all the communities
in the county have in common is the desire to stop sprawl --
and commercial -- which is destroying the character of our communities
and our quality of life," said Bill Kraus, a Norwalk resident and vice
president of the trust. John Lupton, the trust's president, said
the group would differ from historical societies -- which are generally
more focused on archiving and research -- by addressing and raising
awareness of tear-downs and development that is discordant with its
said the trust would be a
clearinghouse of information, offering residents tips on rehabilitating
old homes, designating areas as historic to protect against
development, obtaining available tax credits and placing easements on
to preserve it. The organization's Web site is
trust's goal is also to educate the public through an advertising
about the problems associated with sprawl and the economic benefits of
over Fairfield County, there
are many old homes that are not protected," Lupton said.
of the trust's first tasks will
be to inventory and prioritize all the "endangered" historic homes in
county. Having such a list would assist the group in contacting
owners and prioritizing its preservation efforts with available
The group also plans to contract consultants and attorneys to battle
of residential and commercial
buildings has increased in recent years, according to data from the
Department of Economic and Community Development. From 2000 to 2002,
number of demolition permits granted in Norwalk increased from 30 to
in Stamford, from 21 to 35; in Westport, from 65 to 76; in Greenwich,
78 to 79.
troubling, though, as the "tear-down
trend," said Kraus, is insensitive renovation and redevelopment. He
a recent case in which owners of an older commercial building removed
oak flooring and old staircases -- only to violate zoning regulations
then approach preservationists for help. The trust hopes to position
so property owners in similar situations seek its assistance before
we had gotten involved early
in the design stage, we could have shown them simple ways they could
worked with the building . . . and they would have ended up with a much
more solid, valuable building at the end," Kraus said. "As it was, it
too late for us to help them."
Population Of U.S. Nearing 300 Million
consuming more food, energy, resources than ever
By Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Writer
New London DAY
Published on 10/15/2006
Washington — America's population is on track to hit 300 million on
Tuesday morning, and it's causing a stir among environmentalists.
People in the United States are consuming more than ever — more food,
more energy, more natural resources. Open spaces are shrinking and
traffic in many areas is dreadful. But some experts argue that
population growth only partly explains America's growing consumption.
Just as important, they say, is where people live, what they drive and
how far they travel to work.
“The pattern of population growth is really the most crucial thing,”
said Michael Replogle, transportation director for Environmental
Defense, a New York-based advocacy group.
“If the population grows in thriving existing communities, restoring
the historic density of older communities, we can easily sustain that
growth and create a more efficient economy without sacrificing the
environment,” Replogle said.
That has not been the American way. Instead, the country has fed its
appetite for big houses, big yards, cul-de-sacs and strip malls. In a
“Because the U.S. has become a suburban nation, sprawl has become the
most predominant form of land use,” said Vicky Markham, director of the
Center for Environment and Population, an advocacy group. “Sprawl is,
by definition, more spread out. That of course requires more vehicles
and more vehicle miles traveled.”
America still has a lot of wide-open spaces, with about 84 people per
square mile, compared with about 300 people per square mile in the
European Union and almost 900 people per square mile in Japan.
But a little more than half the U.S. population is clustered in
counties along the coasts, including those along the Gulf of Mexico and
the Great Lakes. Also, much of the population is moving away from large
cities to the suburbs and beyond.
The fastest growing county is Flagler County, Fla., north of Daytona
Beach; the fastest growing city is Elk Grove, Calif., a suburb of
Sacramento; and the fastest growing metropolitan area is Riverside,
Calif., about 50 miles east of Los Angeles.
“In New York City, people tend to think of that as an urban jungle, but
the environmental impact per capita is quite low,” said Carlos
Restrepo, a research scientist at New York University. “It tends to be
less than it is for someone who lives in the suburbs with a big house
where they need more than one car.”
The Census Bureau projects that America's population will hit 300
million at 7:46 a.m. EDT Tuesday. The projection is based on estimates
for births, deaths and net immigration that add up to one new American
every 11 seconds.
The estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.
are included in official population estimates, though many demographers
believe they are undercounted.
The population reached its last milestone, 200 million, in 1967. That
translates into a 50 percent increase in 39 years. During the
same period, the number of households nearly doubled, the number motor
vehicles more than doubled and the miles driven in those vehicles
nearly tripled. The average household size has shrunk from 3.3
people to 2.6 people, and the share of households with only one person
has jumped from less than 16 percent to about 27 percent.
“The natural resource base that is required to support each person
keeps rising,” Replogle said. “We're heating and cooling more space,
and the housing units are more spread out than ever before.”
The U.S. is the third largest country in the world, behind China and
India. The U.S. is the fastest growing of the industrialized nations,
adding about 2.8 million people a year, or just under 1 percent. India
is growing faster but the United Nations considers it to be a less
developed country. About 40 percent of U.S. population growth
comes from immigration, both legal and illegal, according to the Census
Bureau. The rest comes from births outnumbering deaths.
“It's not the population, it's the consumption that can do us in,” said
William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington
think tank. “These are the luxuries we have been able to support until
now. But we're not going to be able to do it forever.”
Acts To Stop Sprawl
October 8, 2006
decades, ill-planned, low-density, auto-oriented development, known as
sprawl, has been eating away at the traditional Connecticut
countryside. Scenic farms have been sacrificed for subdivisions and
strip malls. Ridge lines have been cleared for McMansions. Urban
centers have struggled.
Finally, on Friday, a Connecticut governor said it has to stop. Gov. M.
Jodi Rell issued an executive order creating a state office to control
sprawl and promote more sensible and sustainable growth.
The new agency, the Office of Responsible Growth, will be part of the
state's Office of Policy and Management. The new agency will convene a
steering council made up of the state agencies involved in land use:
economic development, environmental protection, transportation,
agriculture and public health, as well as the Connecticut Housing
Finance Authority and the Connecticut Development Authority.
The governor's order charges this group with such tasks as:
Increasing mass-transit options and promoting road design that
preserves the character and walkability of a community.
Expanding transit-oriented development - housing with ready access to
passenger rail and bus service.
Creating incentives for regional planning and support for local
land-use officials (without usurping local zoning).
Encouraging planning that will protect natural resources.
This is not Rell's first anti-sprawl measure. She's supported a $3.5
billion investment in transportation infrastructure in the past two
years, and backed the creation of a dedicated fund to support the
protection of open space, farmland and historic sites, as well as the
creation of affordable housing.
But the creation of the new agency is the first structural change Rell
has made in state government to tame ill-conceived and wasteful
development. We applaud it. The Courant has extensively examined the
effects of sprawl over the past two years, and we believe it is
damaging the state's quality of life - our best selling point - and
slowing the state's economy.
Still, the announcement raises a few questions.
Bringing all the agencies to the table - "joining the silos," as the
planners say - is clearly the way to get coordinated state action. But
will the new agency have the authority to bend the departments to its
will? Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney created a super-agency by
combining the departments of energy, environmental protection,
transportation and housing to fight sprawl, and it is working. Rell
needs to ensure the same result.
Also, Rell's announcement says the new agency will "review state
funding" that has an impact on development in Connecticut. That
language doesn't go far enough. The state has to be able to direct
state funding toward sensible development and stop subsidizing sprawl.
If the new agency can't do that, it's not going to be strong enough to
make a difference.
Finally, Rell does not address one major cause of sprawl, and that is
the state's heavy and disastrous dependence on local property taxes
(though she has a task force studying the issue). Towns strapped for
funds are inclined to develop every corner of field or forest to
squeeze more money for schools and other services. Someone's got to
shift some of the burden to other taxes that aren't as dependent on
land use, if we're to really stop sprawl.
Nonetheless, Rell has stepped out in front of her gubernatorial
opponent, John DeStefano Jr. - who is knowledgeable on the subject -
and taken the most promising action yet to rein in sprawl. We await Mr.
Out A Region At Risk
By MYRON ORFIELD, Published in New
London DAY on 7/6/2003
Unbalanced growth is hurting all
communities in Connecticut — including the state's beautiful
corner. Despite revitalization efforts, many of the state's large
cities and older suburbs continue to face declining population and
tax bases. At the same time, many of the state's outlying communities
facing the pressures of rapid, low-density growth.
development in Connecticut is
consuming previously undeveloped land at alarming rates. Between
1970 and 2000, the amount of land settled at urban or suburban
increased by 102 percent. During the same period, the state's
increased by just 12 percent. Our recent report, “Connecticut
used statistical analysis to group the state's 169 towns and cities by
specified fiscal and social characteristics. Communities were
into six groups, ranging from highly stressed central cities to a group
of affluent suburbs. Nearly all communities in Northeast Connecticut
into one of two groups. The first, “at risk” communities, is still
by many measures.
places have slightly below-average
poverty rates in their schools, an average number of jobs per resident
and greater-than-average job growth. But there are signs of
afoot. School-poverty rates edged up slightly faster in this
than in the state as a whole during the 1990s. Property tax base and
in property tax base are below the state averages, as the map above
This hinders their ability to adequately meet social and physical
Because of such pressures, it increases the likelihood that such towns
will adopt development that increases sprawl and lessens the beauty
attracted people to the Northeast corner to begin with.
other northeast Connecticut
communities were classified as “fringe-developing.” The most
characteristic of these middle-class communities is rapid growth — more
than twice the rate of the state as a whole — at very low densities.
type of growth brings its own stresses — requiring major investments in
roads, sewers and schools that often strain even the hardiest tax
However, most fringe-development places do not command such big tax
– on average, they have slightly below-average tax bases that are
much more slowly than average.
and fringe-developing communities
were home to nearly 40 percent of the land that urbanized during the
and 1990s. Given their low tax bases, these communities feel tremendous
pressure to attract development that will improve their fiscal health.
This pressure can drive land-use planning decisions and discourage a
regional approach to planning. These trends have serious
for the region and the state as a whole. What can we do to turn them
Fortunately, there are strategies that can help.
Reform Connecticut's property
The local fiscal landscape in Connecticut
is dominated by much greater-than-average reliance on property taxes to
finance municipal services and schools. This places tremendous pressure
on most communities to attract development that will expand their
tax bases. That's especially true in low-tax-base communities where the
need for public services far outstrips the available property tax base
to pay for them. Reducing reliance on the property tax would
the pressures communities feel to develop land. For example, state
could move more of the cost of K-12 public education from local
taxes to the statewide revenue system, freeing up local funds for other
important public services. Another option is regional tax-base
which pools a portion of local governments' tax base and redistributes
it more equitably. Tax-base sharing in the Minneapolis-St. Paul has
its core communities remain relatively healthy and provided fiscal
to low-tax-base exurban areas. A smaller program in the New Jersey
has helped officials guide development in an environmentally-friendly
by guaranteeing that all 14 Meadowlands communities share the benefits
of development, no matter where in the district it occurs.
Encourage regional land-use
Connecticut institutions currently
do little to support balanced growth. For example, although towns must
note any inconsistency with the State Plan of Conservation and
when amending their own plans, they are not required to reconcile any
Many state agencies produce plans, but often independently of each
In fact, there is no state agency explicitly responsible for planning.
Although the state boasts 15 councils of government and regional
agencies, these regional bodies have no statutory authority to review
land-use decisions. Policies should be established that encourage
local planning with a regional and statewide perspective. For example,
strengthened regional bodies could coordinate a host of regional
such as housing and redevelopment efforts and farmland and open-space
A reinvigorated state plan could be a powerful statewide planning tool
to promote consistency among municipal and regional plans and to
development in desired locations. Similar policies have worked
the country. At least 16 states have adopted comprehensive smart growth
acts, which is development that preserves open space and uses existing
infrastructure whenever possible. Their ranks are growing.
land-use planning in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Maryland helps
coordinate investments in roads and sewers. Concurrency requirements
those in Florida require infrastructure to be in place by the time
takes place. Several states have approved or are considering “fix it
legislation requiring state agencies to focus spending on repairing
infrastructure instead of building new facilities. These ideas
as a starting point for a larger discussion on how northeast
can preserve its scenic environment while accommodating sustainable
A credible and effective system that promotes local, regional and
cooperation will pay dividends for the region and its people for
Myron Orfield is director of
the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota Law
and president of Ameregis, a research firm in Minneapolis. He
the Connecticut Metropatterns report, released in March. To find
the complete report, 25.1MB (takes a while to download), click HERE.
In the past,
much progress had been made (on a small scale) developing a method of
of H2O company lands...
Valley Walk Trail...a good thing that
be properly maintained...the Kelda Coalition was successful, and thus
regional open space attribute is preserved forever. What will
when powerline issue hit town--345kV with macho towers next door to
Historical Society (center).
How the "walk
trail" came to be:
With the partnership
of the Towns of Weston and Redding, the Redding Land Trust, the
Land Trust, the Connecticut Audubon Society and The
Company, on April 22, 1992, EARTH DAY, dedicated the Saugatuck Walk
a linkage of paths owned by all the entities named above. On the
map of Weston land use below, the trail skirts the reservoir to the
or left of the big blue area in the upper right
Some food for
thought...impact of KELDA COALITION victory;
1999 update of the LAND USE map of Weston is shown below...one of the
concerns had been the future use of "excess" lands when and if
plants were built by Aquarion (aka BHC).
1999 WESTON E-LAND USE MAPS:
(residential), greens (open space of one kind or the other--darkest
is Nature Conservancy--some private, some public, [private clubs in
ochre--gun, golf, field and Girl Scouts]), dark blue
red (commercial)...notice, no industrial, office parks.
II LANDS OF BHC (draining toward the reservoir) BEEN RECLASSIFIED CLASS
III--if they were no longer needed as water supply protection for the
company's reservoir, what land use effect would that have had on Weston?
have been the effect of the onetime proposed BHC (Kelda) water line
Godfrey Road (and down Valley Forge) on the large, open parcels nearby
as well as the CLASS II (i.e. flows toward CLASS I water body) BHC
Higher density uses and zone changes could have developed
Pick out your favorite "white" colored properties on the EXISTING LAND
USE MAP and consider the possibilities for alternative land uses!
map look familiar? Town studies groundwater
on School Road site; plans for second well and improved distribution
THE CENTRAL PART OF TOWN - North pointing up (map on the left) is the
land use; EXISTING CONDITIONS AND FINAL SCHOOL PLAN from O,R&L--now
replaced by Fletcher-Thompson's version
by Town Meeting on Nov. 15, 2001). Is this part of town
now? One of the measures of land capability is
Without keeping this natural characteristic to a minimum, the
cycle cannot be maintained without engineering intervention. IMPERVIOUSNESS
STATEWIDE: WESTON IS GREEN
County, as shown on the State of Connecticut Plan of Conservation and
PLAN UP FOR PUBLIC HEARING STILL RECOGNIZES WESTON AS IT HAS IN THE
OF CONNECTICUT'S PLAN OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT (1998-2003) SHOWS
WESTON AS "RURAL" AND "OPEN SPACE" LAND...AS SHOWN ABOVE. BELOW IS THE
SOUTH WESTERN PLANNING REGION'S LATEST LOOK AHEAD. TO BE UP-TO-DATE
STATE POLICY "MODIFICATION" CLICK BELOW:
IN THE SOUTH WESTERN REGION
located in the upper right of any SWRPA regional map. We show a
low density development pattern. State Plan of C&D 2005-2010
map of SWRPA Region explains why north of the Merritt Parkway has not
developed. Pink and red areas indicate where infrastructure
Change to definition of "rural" lands
zoning in the new CT Plan still does not make
density inconsistent with the effort to most efficiently
develop the lands of the State of CT..
In addition, the completion
of a full interchange at the Merritt Parkway and Route Seven has benn
halted by the Courts (2006), which put completion of new "Super Seven"
Latest State Plan 2013-2018
described in "About Town" interview.
FROM THE CT PLAN OF C&D 2005-2010 - definition of
...RURAL AREAS (pages 74-77 of the CT
PLAN of C&D 2005-2010): "Rural
areas" no longer in the State Plan of C&D.
western and eastern uplands of the state and areas along
the lower Connecticut River offer some of the
rural expanses in the heavily urbanized Washington-Boston corridor.
places embrace much of the state’s remaining active farmland, vital
environmental resources, and numerous historic villages and town
However, the urban-rural distinction increasingly blurs as urban scale
development spreads farther into the countryside. Many rural towns now
with development controls ill-suited to the task of preserving the
character that makes them unique and attractive. Uniform large lot
standards based mainly on traffic movement, strict on-site parking
and similar measures replicate a creeping suburbanization of the
degradation of valued natural and cultural resources, loss of prime
agricultural land, increasing dependence on the automobile, and perhaps
growing social isolation.
“in between” densities (greater than
one half acre to approximately one and a half acre lot per dwelling)
increase the demand for public services but make their provision
and expensive. Accommodating future economic development, job
industrial diversification, needed social services and availability of
transportation while maintaining the desirable qualities of rural towns
a critical planning concern at state, regional and local levels.
area goals as set forth in Executive Order No. 31
(October 1980) are as follows:
- To preserve and protect the
land, water, farm open space, and forest resources which characterize
the state's rural areas, and effectively coordinate such preservation
with the needs of rural residents for employment, housing, public
services, and accessibility to commercial and cultural facilities
- To improve the quality of life
for the residents of the rural areas of the state, ensure that rural
citizens have adequate access to health care, education, human
services, housing, and other basic programs and services provided by
both the public and private sectors, and to help overcome isolation,
discrimination, and other problems which often face the elderly, people
with disabilities, low and moderate income residents, and minorities in
- To ensure appropriately scaled
economic development in rural communities which provides an adequate
financial base and range of employment opportunities but which is
compatible with the varied economic, social, and environmental needs
and concerns of rural areas; and
- To simplify the administrative
procedures which accompany state and federal programs and regulatory
functions so that they more appropriately reflect the administration
and planning capacities of rural communities.
Plan seeks to properly scale responses to identified
rural economic and social issues and to concentrate development
within or adjacent to traditional village areas in order to maintain
character and to protect environmentally sensitive places. Techniques
open space development (cluster development with its primary aim the
preservation of open space), regulations to encourage new development
with historical development, mixed use development in community
traditional street networks are some of the methods to maintain rural
and the resources that define that character.
in infrastructure has shaped community character.
Public sewer and water systems and highway improvements support urban
densities that are not consistent with rural character. Recent advances
on-site wastewater treatment technology have the potential to
greatly the issue of infrastructure in rural land use, even though
will continue to be limited by soils and groundwater conditions. Their
treatment efficiencies may enable substantially larger and more
development projects without conventional sewer service. Yet, they may
provide communities more flexibility in applying such techniques as
development and community centers.
and infrastructure in rural areas should be
guided by the following guidelines:
development in Rural Lands of a form, density, and location compatible
carrying capacity of the natural environment, and which avoids the need
large scale and costly urban infrastructure for water supply, waste
rural plans and land use regulations to protect the rural environment
controls and techniques, such as cluster subdivisions, that direct
patterns in conformity with rural values.
Further, rural communities should pursue a watershed planning
that encourages inter-town cooperation to promote water quality and
the concentration of higher density or multiple use development into
Community Centers where practical and consistent with historic
support industrial and business development within Rural Community
of a scale and type which respond to an existing local employment need
inducing major development;
development and refinement of design and engineering standards for
infrastructure and facilities that are consistent with historic rural
and natural resource values, while adequately meeting public health and
new projects are consistent with “rural design” principles and do not
unacceptable adverse impacts upon districts and sites of historic
important natural areas or concentrations of prime farmland;
industrial and business development within Rural Community Centers only
scale and type which respond to an existing local employment need
inducing major development;
application of best available design practices and control methods to
water pollution sources;
priority to transportation improvement projects that recognize and
the viability and character of village centers, particularly with
pedestrian access and safety;
greenway projects that provide links both to and within Rural Community
and that provide alternative transportation and recreation
highway interchanges in urban rather than rural areas to support the
concentration of growth in those areas;
the capacity and safety of existing state roads through cooperative
with municipalities to control the number and location of access
Improve traffic flow on existing highways, where feasible, as a
alternative to the construction of new highways;
significant natural areas, resources and ecological systems in order to
and enhance the local economy and quality of life;
pursue sewer avoidance programs and limit development to those uses and
densities that ensure indefinite functioning of on-lot or small
supply and waste disposal systems, review zoning regulation and
insufficient lot sizes, assure sufficient oversight of the permitting
maintenance of septic systems to ensure that on-site septic systems
indefinitely, and encourage enactment of local ordinances that require
tanks to be inspected every three to five years and pumped out as
needed; further, limit of water pollution
facilities to project costs required to correct an existing pollution
problem (as environmental carrying capacity depends
on many factors, site-specific factors and proper installation and
have to be considered in any decisions as related to actual lot size);
application of advanced on-site wastewater treatment technologies only
their long term functioning is assured and only where the development
support meshes with and complements existing rural patterns and avoids
scattered development; in particular, they may be necessary:
To develop affordable housing in conformance
with local and regional plans,
To support higher intensity uses and economic
development within Rural Community Centers, or
To enable cluster development to preserve
the introduction or expansion of public facilities or services only
is a demonstrated environmental, economic, social, or general welfare
and then introduce such services only at a scale which responds to the
need without serving as an attraction to more intensive development. An
exception may be made to assist municipalities in the provision of
infrastructure to service a particular site when: a) there is a
commitment from a firm to relocate to the site in the immediate future;
substantial employment will result from the relocation; c) a feasible
not available within a development area; d) a project plan is prepared
sets forth the costs and the anticipated economic, social, and
impacts including availability of affordable housing; and e) there is
overriding environmental condition or concern that would preclude such
the extension of public water supply infrastructure to rural areas by
individual wells where well capacity is adequate.
SETTING MAPS above are taken from the 1995 Regional Plan of
and Development, produced by the South
Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA) --of which Weston is one
eight member Towns, and the State of Connecticut's Plan of Conservation
and Development (1998-2003). The Regional Plan 2006-2015 has
since superseded it.
the State Plan of Conservation and Development, the SWRPA vision for
is "rural" land and "low density neighborhoods"--plus a "Town Center"
the same places as such land uses exist today. Read the whole CT
explanation of what the previous State of Connecticut Plan of
Conservation and Development
has to say about the role of WATER QUALITY as a planning determinant,
Some planning concerns that stick
speeding, getting smarter about use of resources...including water
WHERE TO MOVE THE SCHOOL BUS FLEET?
TO THE TRANSFER STATION? OUT OF TOWN? NEW
TOWER TWO IS UP AT THE TRANSFER STATION and how about the idea broached
at Building Committee August 8, 2007 of having solar array on high
school roof? (Solar solution shown at right not the same thing.)
Does School Road traffic sometimes relate to this?
prepared a Road Study Plan in 1986 and made recommendations now done
"S" curve on Route 57; this study also produced the first map of
the Town of Weston where building lot lines were superimposed on a road
grid of Town. BUS BARN as the BUS GARAGE was called by
is recommended to be moved by school planners--but to where? TO
TRANSFER STATION ON GODFREY ROAD EAST (the Board of Education's
will traffic and circulation plans change for 21st Century
How does this fit into Region's traffic situation?
continued...State of Connecticut working on bridges until
affect traffic safety in Weston?
The same 1986
Road Study showed improvements and connections of Town roads that in
were not considered good ideas. Weston's roads are being used more and
more as escape routes from old Route Seven. Super Seven is not in the
to be built for a long, long time--if ever. Ever increasing
traffic during morning rush hour, coupled with cars of parent drivers
school children make for a fine mess! Southbound from Redding and
Bethel, Routes 53 and 57 will be feeling the pinch of increased
and trucks (who are avoiding bridge construction elsewhere).
A new map showing
1999 development (also shown above) and one just of permanent open
appear HERE. Photographs of
sights and new construction since previous Town Plan (1987) appear
Now an issue in Weston in
Westport noise; Noise
hearing April 29
CONNIC, Hour Staff Writer
(old story - Ms. Connic went on to be editor in chief of
WestportNow and then to a more responsible job in New Jersey, we
understand. She will be missed.)
Town officials are looking for ways to solve noise problems residents
encountered by possibly strengthening the town's existing noise
A public meeting has been scheduled for residents to voice their
on noise issues at on April 29 at 7 p.m. Last fall, the
Town Meeting passed an amendment to the noise ordinance to reduce the
construction noise could take place on weekends.
Diane Farrell said during the ordinance discussion and in private
she has heard a number of complaints about other noise concerns in
and she is working to control those problems. During the RTM
last fall, she said, she made a promise that she would follow up on the
other noise issues and seek solutions for them. The most common
she has heard, she said, are about leaf-blowers and air-conditioning
Zoning Commission Chairwoman Eleanor Lowenstein will run the meeting,
said, because many of the issues will also need to be examined by the
Lowenstein said the commission has not heard of major noise issues, but
she knows the staff in the Planning and Zoning Department along with
have heard complaints from residents.
"There is a
lot of building going on, and people are living closer to each other,"
she said. Construction has been the biggest issue, she said, and
the RTM successfully controlled those problems with the ordinance
The town's zoning regulations regarding noise, however, are general,
said. The regulations say that anything that creates any
and/or abnormal noise, vibration, electro-magnetic or other disturbance
perceptible beyond the boundaries of the lot on which it is situated"
not allowed in town.
said the regulation is old and may be out of compliance with the state
standards, so the commission may need to review it. "Right now I
just want to know the issues," she said. "We need to get the
at this point to see what we need to discuss."
Chester Couple Planning Book On
By ALAINE GRIFFIN | Courant Staff Writer
May 10, 2008
CHESTER — - Connecticut's covered bridges have been romanticized as an
iconic portal to New England's past, a symbol documented in picture
books and used in travel websites to lure sightseers.
An outhouse, on the other hand, probably won't appear in a chamber of
commerce brochure. But a Chester couple think the structures, many
still standing throughout the state, have been ignored long enough.
"It's hard to keep a straight face when you're talking about
outhouses," Leslie Strauss said one recent afternoon outside the
circa-1910 outhouse she uses as a gardening shed behind her home. "When
you're talking to people about outhouses, you don't expect anything
heavy to evolve. But I learned there's really a story to be done here."
Months ago, Strauss and her husband, Richard, posted a sign in the
village center in this historic town of nearly 4,000 in the Connecticut
River Valley, asking for outhouse owners to come clean. The sign
sparked a trickle of responses.
Then, Leslie Strauss went to the town assessor's office in Chester. She
identified antique homes and wrote to the homeowners. So far, about a
dozen area residents have sent photographs and short — but not
necessarily researched — histories of their outhouses, information the
Strausses say they hope to compile in a book.
Historians like their idea.
Kent Ryden, director of the American and New England studies program at
the University of Southern Maine, said that if researchers can figure
out when an outhouse was built and when it went out of use, it could
indicate when that particular house or farm first became connected to
the modern infrastructure.
"Outhouses have some of the same appeal that covered bridges and old
barns have — they're rustic, they're pre-modern, and so they help
contribute to the image of New England as a land of quaint small towns
and farms with deep roots in the past," Ryden said.
"They give a glimpse not only of an earlier stage of technology, but of
an entire earlier way of life. Outhouses, in particular, have an appeal
to the imagination. Just think of what it must have been like to have
to visit the unheated outhouse on a cold New England winter day. It's
an image that gives a particularly strong sense of how very different
that past way of living was from the one you follow today," he said.
It seems appropriate for the Strausses to be doing their research in
Chester, a postcard of Colonial times where residents hold on to the
past. Leslie Strauss, owner of a prominent real estate company in the
heart of the downtown village, is one of those residents.
The former preschool teacher furnishes her home with antique furniture
and hangs old maps on her walls. In 1977, Strauss, her husband and two
daughters moved to an old home on a hill where the steeple of a
downtown church is visible from the front porch. Although the home has
been theirs for more than three decades, Strauss keeps the home's
history alive. A black-and-white photograph of the home's original
owners hangs in the foyer.
Those who know Strauss, 58, a bright, witty woman, tease her about her
latest project. They say Strauss, who, with a plunger in her hand and a
shower cap on her head, helped lead a parade through town in 1983 in
honor of Chester village's first sewage disposal system, is the perfect
author for such a book.
"We're all laughing and giggling about this," said Lois Nadel, owner of
one of the outhouses. It was a red outhouse on Spring Street in Chester
that gave Strauss her idea. A local dentist, Dr. Kim Senay, saved the
outhouse from demolition on a Haddam farm. Today, Senay uses the
outhouse to store snow shovels and sand.
Senay said Americans are too quick to tear down their heritage. During
a 1999 cross-country bicycle tour, Senay said, he looked forward to
riding past a landscape of hills and old barns. Instead, he saw
boarded-up churches and stretches of mini-malls. The barns he saw were
renovated and devoid of history.
"I'm so tired of people renovating buildings and leaving nothing,"
Senay said. "In another 30 years, it's going to be all aluminum and
corrugated. That's why I'm doing my part to keep things as they are."
The outhouses the Strausses have located so far range from hastily
built shacks resting on rocks to more nicely fitted outbuildings. The
owners of one outhouse ripped out the structure's mahogany planks and
installed them in the attic of their home. Another outhouse has a step
stool that children probably used.
And with each outhouse comes a family story of some sort — sometimes a
comical recollection of its use or, in the case of one woman, its
"Snakes and other wildlife!" one woman wrote on a piece of paper to
"Isn't it funny how she has yet to step inside the thing?" Strauss said.
Strauss said tracing the histories of the outhouses she and her husband
have found will take some time, and she's worried she may miss a few.
"I can't just go driving up people's driveways, looking through their
yards," Strauss said. "But I'm tempted."
She said she's still figuring out the background of the one in her
yard. Like the others, there's a family history to go with it.
For years, the Strauss daughters played in the outhouse. Their tiny
hands painted the large horse that still adorns the inside wall. But it
was more than just a playhouse in the 1980s when the family's well went
dry, Strauss said.
"I put the toilet paper in the outhouse, looked at my girls and said,
'Have a nice time, ladies.'"
BOARDMAN BRIDGE IN NEW MILFORD - ONE OF THE TOWNS IN HVCEO...
is still trying to do right by Lachat in 2013...make that 2014!
CT has historic bridges...
Bridge -- New Milford history at risk
Susan Tuz, Danbury NEWS-TIMES
Published 5:02 pm, Wednesday, January 15, 2014
The Boardman Bridge is treasured by many in the Greater
New Milford community.
Among them is Rob Burkhart, who wants to give the historic span a
rebirth. Burkhart, the president of the New Milford Trust for
Historic Preservation, hopes to form a 501(c)(3) entity to raise the
"The cost will be over $2 million, so town money and state grants will
be needed," he said.
The bridge has spanned the Housatonic River since 1888 and is one of
the original metal-work bridges in New Milford. Yet its
ornamental details of lattice-work and its floral design above the
portals have been allowed to rust and the bridge deck has become unsafe
for even foot traffic.
In 1985, the bridge had been reconstructed for pedestrian sightseeing
at a cost of $362,750, paid through bonding, according to Board of
A replacement bridge for vehicular traffic a few yards to its south had
been completed in 1984, with state Department of Transportation
"The historical truss-type structure built in 1888, which now crosses
the river, will remain in place as a pedestrian walkway and a new
30-foot, wide steel girder bridge will be installed approximately 50
feet south of the present bridge," an October 1983 DOT press release
"Restoration work needed today (for pedestrian traffic only) would be
in the area of $1 million, as a preliminary estimate," said Mike Zarba,
New Milford's director of public works.
Started in 1887 and completed in 1888 by the Berlin Iron Bridge Co.,
the metal-work bridge replaced an earlier, wooden toll bridge which had
been washed away in flooding in 1854. It was one of the first
Berlin bridges to be listed on the National Register of Historic
Places, according to Burkhart. The arched shape of its truss is
from a design originating in Europe early in the 19th century.
One of about 1,000 bridges of this type built by Berlin before 1900,
the Boardman Bridge is one of only three bridges of this style
remaining in Connecticut. Mayor Pat Murphy noted the parochial
significance of Boardman Bridge. She said she has a copy of an old
photograph in her home of a young boy leading a cow across the bridge.
"This is a good project for the historic trust to take on," the mayor
said. "They'll be able to bring attention to it."
For Town Council member Katy Francis, the bridge has family history
entwined with its historic value to the town.
"I have pictures of my great-grandparents," Francis said, "and heard
how their furniture was taken off the train, loaded on a horse-pulled
wagon and carried across that bridge when they moved here from Brewster
"Just like Lover's Leap Bridge, it is a beautiful part of New Milford's
history," Francis added. "But in these financial times, the funds to
restore it may be difficult to come by."
In 2007, a $2.1 million restoration of Lover's Leap Bridge was
completed. It was paid with 80 percent federal funding and 20
percent taxpayer support. That span was built in 1895 by the Berlin
Iron Bridge Co.
Fading Into The Past
By PENELOPE OVERTON, Courant Staff Writer
December 24, 2006
The barn is the soul of the farm, its largest working
tool, but in Connecticut, the traditional agricultural barn is in
danger, its numbers in rapid decline due to development and
deterioration, according to the Connecticut Trust for Historic
The Trust is recruiting local historical societies to join with it to
survey Connecticut's barns. The goal is to find out how many are left
in Connecticut, log their physical conditions and identify the biggest
threats to their existence.
In 1920, Connecticut boasted about 25,000 barns. Historians think only
Todd Levine, the co-director of the trust's Historic Barns of
Connecticut Project, said that once a sizable statewide catalog is
created, the group may seek legislative protection for barns as
historic buildings. Local groups may petition municipal leaders for
The Haddam Historical Society was one of the first local societies to
start doing "windshield surveys" of local barns - driving by, taking a
photo or two and recording its history, environment, style and
condition. It has surveyed about two dozen barns so far, said director
The shape and size of the barn tells a surveyor much about its use.
The oldest style of Connecticut barn is known as the English barn, a
simple, rectangular building with a pitched roof and doors on one or
both of its long sides that could house livestock, grains and
equipment. This style of barn was popular through the early 1800s.
In the 1830s, farmers started to build barns with the main door on the
short sides of their rectangular barns, or their gables, rather than
under the eaves. This kept their barns drier, and, with agriculture
booming at the time, allowed farmers to easily expand.
Toward the end of the century, farmers began to add basements for
storage of manure and livestock, windows for light and ventilation, and
cupolas. A new type of barn appeared, the fancy barn of a gentleman's
farm, with splendid architectural details to advertise wealth.
Some of Haddam's barns appear to be months away from collapse, Malloy
said, while others have been maintained as a historic structure, an
integral part of a farm or a renovated office or residential space.
told through covered bridges
By SHELLEY K. WONG, Associated Press
November 11, 2006
CORNWALL — The first thing visitors to the small hamlet of West
Cornwall notice is its red covered bridge.
The timber structure commands attention, lying against an idyllic
backdrop of lush forest that lines the banks of a gurgling Housatonic
River. Its wood creaks with each car crossing, reminiscent of a
time when horse-drawn carriages, rather than SUVS, crossed its planks.
The bridge is one of three remaining covered bridges in Connecticut, a
state where hundreds once existed. Another is southeast of the West
Cornwall Bridge, while the third is in central Connecticut.
Covered bridges were once indispensable to American communities,
numbering in the thousands. They connected towns and villages, enabling
people to better communicate and exchange goods and services.
Today, the 800 or fewer around the country are no longer vital
connectors. Instead, they've become hollow relics visited by travelers
looking for a respite from the world's web of steel and concrete.
But a closer look at any one of the covered bridges across the country,
with the most in Pennsylvania, tells a story of each area.
West Cornwall Bridge, in the northwest corner of Connecticut, was built
in 1864 to connect two sleepy, rural communities — Sharon and Cornwall.
Prior to the bridge, a ferry was used to cross the Housatonic River to
Sharon, according to the Cornwall Historical Society's Web site.
The one-lane bridge sits over the river along Route 128, where visitors
come to the water's edge to fly fish or wander the village for Shaker
furniture or local pottery.
It uses a revolutionary lattice truss design that allowed builders to
make longer, stronger spans. Ithiel Town, a Connecticut architect and
bridge engineer, patented the design, which has been used widely across
The design was also used for Bull's Bridge in Kent, about 14 miles
southeast of West Cornwall on Route 7. The bridge is the only other
covered bridge in Connecticut that carries car traffic. It was built as
a result of the burgeoning iron industry in northwestern Connecticut
during the 18th and 19th centuries. The iron ore in Connecticut was
used to build railroad car wheels and helped fuel the American
Local historians say the bridge was constructed by Jacob Bull, the
owner of an iron furnace and saw mill, and his son, Isaac, in 1760 so
wagons could get across the Housatonic River to haul pig iron from his
foundry to Poughkeepsie, N.Y. His saw mill and furnace provided the
timber and hardware to build the bridge, which became part of a major
highway from Hartford to Newburgh, N.Y., used by the likes of George
Washington, according to the town of Kent's Web site.
The bridge was one of several built across the gorge over the years as
flooding and ice took their toll. The present bridge was built in 1842
and has become a tourist stop along scenic Route 7 as well as a
starting point for hikers traversing a leg of the 52-mile Appalachian
Trail through Connecticut.
Looking east to East Hampton in central Connecticut is Comstock Bridge,
which is situated in a public park over the Salmon River, just north of
Route 16. It's the only pedestrian bridge of the three and once
connected the main road between East Hampton and Colchester when it was
built in 1873, according to the town of East Hampton's Web site.
Today, the area serves as a fishing hole and picnic area. The bridge
was renovated in the 1930s, when wooden gates and siding were added,
and again in the 1970s, when steel plates were integrated to reinforce
parts of the bridge. Inside, engineers used a Howe truss, a design
widely used in railroad construction and for highway bridges.
Several factors including fire, flood and wind led to the demise of
covered bridges by the beginning of World War I, said David Wright,
President of the National Society for the Preservation of Covered
Wright said covered bridges also became obsolete with newer technology
"As populations increased and traffic increased, some of the bridges
that were built for light loads became structurally inadequate," Wright
Still, their rustic charms are not lost to visitors like Ken Murray,
60, who spent a few minutes marveling at the engineering of the West
Cornwall Bridge recently. The Nova Scotia resident, traveling through
to Massachusetts, enjoys visiting covered bridges — wherever he can
still find them.
we have supplied links to two towns' websites and the third (East
Hampton) to their new Town Plan
Information on Connecticut's covered bridges
Nov 10, 11:51 AM EST
WHAT: Connecticut's three remaining historic covered bridges are a
throwback to a world without steel and concrete.
WHERE: West Cornwall Bridge, Rte. 128 over Housatonic River in
Cornwall; Bull's Bridge, off
Rte. 7 over the Housatonic River in Kent;
Comstock Bridge, north of Rte. 16 over the Salmon River in East Hampton.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: (first link works, others do not)
West Cornwall Bridge: http://www.cornwallhistoricalsociety.org/history.htm
(link did not work for us);
Tracy Kulikowski: Weston names
new land use director
by BRIAN GIOIELE
Nov 21, 2006
After more than a year of
searching, local leaders found their new land use director right under
The Board of Selectmen Thursday approved the appointment of Tracy
Kulikowski — who had been the administrative assistant to the owner’s
representative for the school building project — as the land use
director. She is set to begin her new role Jan. 2.
“You know Tracy from her work with (owner’s representative) Carl
Goedeke and the School Building Committee over the last two years,”
said Tom Landry, town administrator, in a letter to the Board of
Selectmen. “She has been a terrific asset to that project, and I have
been pleased to have her assistance over that time.”
While Ms. Kulikowski has been known for her work with Mr. Goedeke, Mr.
Landry said, she also has extensive experience as a professional
Ms. Kulikowski worked for eight years as a professional planner for the
state of Maryland, the town of Lakewood, Ohio, and on a regional
planning commission in Ohio.
She holds an undergraduate degree from Cornell University in urban and
regional studies, as well as a master’s degree in urban planning,
design, and development from Cleveland State University. She also has a
law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law.
“I have no doubt that she will be successful in the position,” added
Mr. Landry, “and I am genuinely excited by the prospect of her joining
Ms. Kulikowski will work 20 hours per week, at an hourly rate of
$37.11. She will receive health, retirement and other fringe benefits,
as provided for 20-plus hour employees in the town’s personnel policies
and practices handbook.
This brings to a close the search for a land use director, a position
that was created last year at the request of Mr. Landry. The selectmen
and Board of Finance approved the new position, and it was budgeted for
in last year’s fiscal year budget, but no candidate could be found to
fill the vacancy. According to Mr. Landry’s letter to the
selectmen, he had been in negotiations with the new collective
bargaining unit in an attempt to allow a current, unidentified, town
employee — presently a member of the bargaining unit — to take the
“non-bargaining unit” post.
“It is now certain that a middle ground agreement on the issue is not
possible,” stated Mr. Landry. “Accordingly, I must now pursue other
options to fill this critical position.”
And that option was Ms. Kulikowski, who will now provide additional
professional planning assistance to the Conservation Commission,
Planning and Zoning Commission, and Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).
Mr. Landry first proposed this new post in August 2005, saying that his
assessment was that the town’s land use staff is “challenged in meeting
the demands posed by the complexity and volume of land use permits and
subdivision applications we receive.”
He then proposed that the town organize its current land use personnel
into a single Land Use Department under the supervisory direction of a
new full-time position entitled director of land use services.
“A department head position can maximize the utilization of the staff
and resources that we do have, and can assure that applications receive
a comprehensive, rather than a piecemeal, review,” he wrote at the time.
He noted the P&Z Commission has no professional staff to provide
direction and assistance in plan review or ordinance revision, and that
issues before the commission are increasingly technical and complex.
DOWNTOWN PARKING SOLUTION!
Allow only thoughtfully designed machines, which would also be would be interested in planning, for the future of Downtown,
Walls in New England (in addition to the Frost poem).
Weston is an imaginary island - above, a real one!
County finally sues
beach access dispute
Greenbank property owner Bruce
Montgomery speaks to a reporter during a community demonstration on
Wonn Road in early 2009. Island County is suing
By JUSTIN BURNETT, South Whidbey Record Langley,
March 17, 2013 · Updated 1:29 PM
The long wait for Island County to take legal action against a
Greenbank property owner and reclaim a disputed public beach access has
finally come to an end. March 6, the Island County
Prosecutor’s Office filed a civil lawsuit against Wonn Road property
owner and pharmaceutical giant Bruce Montgomery. The suit asks
for ejectment and quiet title, declaratory relief and to abate a public
nuisance. In layman’s terms, the county is seeking to lay legal rights
to the disputed beach access, once and for all.
“The county is trying to reclaim the road for public use, all the way
to the water,” said David Jamieson, chief civil deputy for the
As of Friday, Montgomery’s attorney, Dennis Dunphy of the regional law
firm Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, had not filed a response to the
county’s summons and complaint. In an interview this week,
Montgomery said he hopes to resolve the issue out of court with a
meeting of attorneys. But he won’t back down from a legal battle if
push comes to shove.
“We’ll just have to see what happens,” Montgomery said.
He maintains the property is his and called the county’s case “thin.”
He said he believes it will crumble under the weight of property
records that prove private ownership and past determinations by former
“It’s a rifle shot lawsuit,” Montgomery said.
The issue erupted nearly five years ago when Montgomery built a rock
wall at the end of Wonn Road. The road end is adjacent to his home and
forms the beginning of his driveway.
Montgomery claims the wall was constructed to keep people from driving
on his drain field, which is located in the grassy area between the end
of Wonn Road and the shoreline. Members of the community, among
them the late Glen Russell, were quick to cry foul, noting the road end
was once the head of the long-gone Greenbank Wharf and that the area
was always a public beach access. It was also quickly pointed out
that state law clearly states county road-ends are public beach
accesses and cannot legally be abandoned by government to neighboring
private property owners.
In the summer of 2008, the controversy boiled over into an election
issue and the Island County commissioners began taking steps that
preceded legal action. It was another nine months, however,
before the board voted to do whatever it takes to reclaim the property
and authorized the prosecutor’s office to take Montgomery to court.
That was in late March 2009.
According to Jamieson, the delay is the result of the extensive
research needed to build a strong case. Years of land use records
and photographic evidence were examined, he said. Mike McVay,
founder of Island Citizens for Public Beach Access, said it was a long
time to wait, so long that many had begun to question whether the
county would follow through with the board’s promise. In fact,
McVay said he’s still not convinced the county will go the distance and
fight the case to the end. He’s concerned Montgomery has deep enough
pockets to financially outlast the cash-strapped county.
“I’m apprehensive is the way to put it,” McVay said.
“We’re hoping for the best.”
Montgomery is founder and CEO of Cardeas Pharma, a Seattle-based
pharmaceutical developer. Before that, he was a senior vice president
and head of Respiratory Therapeutic for Gilead Sciences Inc., an
international biopharmaceutical company with offices in Seattle.
Contrary to the assertions of beach access advocates and county
litigators that the property is public, Montgomery claims to have
records proving the land was in private hands for nearly 70 years. He
says he’s had the information for some time, but that no county
official asked for the documents.
“I think that’s nuts,” Montgomery said.
He also maintains that former county Assessor Dave Mattens reviewed the
issue nearly five years ago and determined the property indeed belonged
to Montgomery. He even sent him a bill for back taxes.
“This is atypical,” said Mattens, in a June 2008 story that ran in the
South Whidbey Record. “Usually the county owns the tidelands at the end
of a public road.”
In an interview this week, Mattens said he has little recollection of
the broader issue, much less the details of an analysis performed by
his office. Also, he said any determination should be taken with
a grain of salt; the assessor’s job is to determine property values,
not decide boundary lines.
“Even if I did say it was his, who am I to decide ownership,” Mattens
Montgomery says he can’t understand how the county can claim ownership
rights when he for years paid property taxes on the same land that’s
under dispute. He claims the dueling position is going on to this
day, despite the recent litigation against him.
“The same week they (the county) sued me, they sent me a property tax
bill,” Montgomery said.
Jamieson said he’s not sure what property documents Montgomery referred
to, so couldn’t address why they were requested. The county’s claim is
based on the plat, he said, which is a publicly recorded document.
As for property taxes, Jamieson said it’s an Assessor’s Office matter
and could not confirm the claim. He did argue, however, that he didn’t
think there is anything unreasonable about Montgomery being charged
property taxes because he used the land for years.
“If the court agrees with us, he won’t have to pay the taxes in the
future,” Jamieson said.
questions: When is lot line change more than a lot line change?
Did P&Z increase any non-conformity?
Weston has non-conforming lots (in red above) as well as a special permit for houses of
worship (revised 2011) - from the Town of Weston website.
Opponents plan to sue over
Frank MacEachern, Greenwich TIME
Updated 10:19 pm, Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Opponents of a proposed synagogue in Cos Cob are vowing a court
challenge after a key decision by the Planning and Zoning Commission
Tuesday allows the Greenwich Reform Synagogue to proceed with its plan.
The commission ruled that a lot line revision, needed for the synagogue
to have enough land to build at 92 Orchard St., was neither a
subdivision nor a resubdivision. It agreed with synagogue lawyer Thomas
Heagney's assertion the application was a simple lot line revision.
Sarah Darer Littman, one of the leaders in the opposition to the
synagogue's plans, said the fight would continue.
"I think they can count on the fact we will be filing an appeal," she
said in brief comments before opponents huddled with their lawyer,
Mario Coppola, in a room at Town Hall to plot their next move.
"It is disappointing," Coppola said in comments after the decision.
"They made the easy decision, but unfortunately they didn't make the
Heagney, not surprisingly, took an opposite view.
"They have done dozens of applications like this. They have gone ahead
and followed the same process."
About 100 people in the Town Hall Meeting Room greeted the commission's
decision with silence.
In October, the synagogue purchased 92 Orchard St., a lot of less than
1 acre that is not large enough for its building.
The synagogue was successful Tuesday in its application to split in two
the adjacent property at 96 Orchard St., with about 38,000 square feet
joined to 92 Orchard St., while the balance, about 12,450 square feet,
would stay in the hands of property owner Lou Caravella.
The commission had to approve that lot-line revision before the
synagogue could formally acquire the section of 96 Orchard St., it
wanted as well as another nearby property at 22 Osee Place, owned by
Randy Caravella, Lou Caravella's son. The combined properties would
give the synagogue a 2-acre site.
About a half-dozen residents voiced opposition to the synagogue's plan
before the commission made its decision.
They were reminded by commission Chairman Donald Heller that comments
could only be about the lot-line revision application and not about
future uses of the property. The commission cannot consider what may be
proposed because no plan has been submitted, Heller said.
Among the speakers was Littman, who was upset that the applicant had
referred to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act in
its application. The federal law adopted in 2000 allows religious
institutions to avoid what are deemed burdensome zoning regulations.
"The applicant is trying to have it both ways," she said. "The
commission is telling us we cannot look forward in terms of the
application, yet the applicant's attorney is trying to bring up RLUIPA,
which is based on a religious use, and as our attorney rightfully
pointed out, at this point, there is no religious use.
"I think they are trying to intimidate the commission by pulling the
RLUIPA card, and I think that they are trying to have it both ways and
that it's wrong."
Littman, who is Jewish, has previously said neighbors were not opposed
to the proposal because it is a synagogue, but instead of fears it
would lead to increased traffic and a large building that does not fit
in the neighborhood.
Although comments were to be limited to the lot-line revision
application, the commission did not cut off a developer who said a
synagogue would overwhelm neighbors.
Riverside resident Carl Anderson brought along an artist's rendition of
a 10,000-square-foot Georgian Colonial he built in the late 1990s in a
community of homes about 2,500 to 3,000 square feet. He said the home
was much larger than the surrounding homes.
He questioned how a synagogue, originally pegged to be about 20,000
square feet, would look in the Cos Cob neighborhood.
"How is a structure twice the size going to look in a residential
neighborhood where the houses are that size," he said. "I don't think
it is proper, and it doesn't belong in that location."
He said the building should be erected in areas along Route 1, warning
of a precedent that could allow other religious institutions to be
built in residential zones.
The synagogue's president, Robert Birnbaum, said they anticipate a
building less than 20,000 square feet.
Heagney said the next move for the synagogue is to hire an architect
and develop its plans.
Definition of "noisy" worries
animal not specifically named (l). How loud can Bossie "mooooo"
without infringing on zoning?
Lower CT River Valley Council of Government comes to the rescue,
pointing out that a less restrictive
zoning amendment might be to propose an overall "noise" ordinance.
Many Crying 'Fowl' Over
By Marianne Sullivan Courier Senior Staff Writer
published Dec 26, 2012
CHESTER - A request by Story Hill Road residents John and Bonnie Bennet
to amend the town's zoning regulations concerning the keeping of
livestock, or more specifically, hens, roosters, and "noisy fowl and
other animals" is creating a considerable flap around town. The
controversy has caused the Planning & Zoning Commission to move the
required public hearing from its usual venue, which is the Meeting
House, to a larger space, the Chester Elementary School gymnasium.
There are also rumors of petitions "with hundreds of signatures"
circulating throughout town.
The Bennets have filed a petition with the Planning & Zoning
Commission seeking to amend a section of the zoning regulations
referring to definitions for "livestock" and Section 40R "animals." The
amendment asks for changes in the lot size of properties where rabbits
and hens are kept, increasing the area size from 10,000 square feet, as
presently required, to 40,000 square feet. It also seeks to increase
setback requirements for animal enclosures for hens and rabbits to 100
feet "from any dwelling in existence" other than another enclosure for
hens or rabbits. The present zoning regulation calls for only a 50-foot
The Bennet request also adds new language to section 40R.1, "Hens and
Rabbits." The regulation is intended to make provision for the limited
keeping of rabbits and hens. The Bennets seek to add the wording "on
certain residential properties for the personal convenience and
personal benefits afforded by such use, in a manner which preserves the
quality of life of the surrounding neighborhood."
The amendment also calls for "no rooster or capon" on any property and
adds, "No fowl which crows, calls, screeches, squawks, or makes similar
other sounds, including and by the way of example, but not limited to,
guinea fowl, peacocks or peahens, geese, parrots, macaws, or similar
calling species shall be kept on any property."
The original petition also added a new subsection to the regulation
entitled "noisy fowl and other animals," which sought to prohibit the
keeping of any animal that "howls, barks, brays, bellows, calls,
screeches, squawks, or makes other sounds" that would be considered a
nuisance by persons living in the immediate neighborhood.
The Bennets chose to withdraw this "noisy fowl" addition when J.H.
Torrence Downes, a senior planner with the Lower Connecticut River
Valley Council of Governments, in reviewing the application for the
regional agency, suggested that it might be too restrictive.
In his comments to the Planning & Zoning Commission, Downes said,
"Although there appear to be little in the way of adverse impacts to
surrounding towns, it is noted that the proposed modifications appear
to be extremely restrictive and may adversely impact the agricultural
activities in the town?Perhaps a less restrictive and subjective
regulation could be devised that will succeed in minimizing whatever
'nuisance' is being experienced or anticipated by the petitioner."
Bennet, in a follow-up letter to the Planning Commission, said he
respected Downes's view and took his comment seriously: "It is not and
has not been the idea of the proposed amendment to interfere with or
restrict legitimate, competently conducted agricultural activities. I
would not want the language used as a tool for that purpose. Therefore
I withdraw that portion of the application which proposes a new
The public hearing on the proposed amendment is set for Thursday, Jan.
10 at 7:30 p.m. at Chester Elementary School.
This is what we called "The
Heart of the City" many, many years ago...a
report we rendered to the P&Z in the 1970's.
The Norwalk River Valley Trail is what we had
hoped would develop, opening to river to the people and forming a link
between the two "downtowns"
Westport helps map the future with updated GIS web portal
Andrew Brophy, Westport News
Updated 08:16 a.m., Saturday, February 18, 2012
Westport residents who like to explore the town without leaving their
homes may be somewhat confused by a new "public viewer" on the town's
But Peter Ratkiewich, the town engineer, sought Thursday to clear up
any confusion by hosting the first of four sessions in Town Hall's
auditorium on how the new public viewer works on the website page:
"This is really the first time we've done this and invited the public,"
Ratkiewich said toward the end of the 90-minute tutorial on how
residents can find maps and aerial views of all the properties in
Westport, along with information on the location and type of wetlands
in Westport, zoning data and town permits. "The viewer has changed and
changed significantly. It's similar to when Microsoft said, `We're not
going to be doing DOS anymore; we're moving to Windows.' "
Westport and Bridgeport are the only Fairfield County municipalities
Ratkiewich knows of that enable residents to access this information
without going to Town Hall, and Westport's system has been publicly
available since 2005. It was recently changed because Esri, the company
that provides the software, changed the software platform that supports
the public viewer.
"I think the main difference is it's a different platform from which to
launch. This is a much more powerful platform to project GIS
[Geographic Information System] data on," Ratkiewich said.
About a dozen people in the audience, many of whom were town employees,
followed along on laptops as Ratkiewich explained how to zoom in and
out on properties, pull up information on properties, measure distances
between two points, get a rough estimate of a house's square footage,
and "layer" maps to reveal more or less information -- zoom out and you
get street lines and town boundary lines; zoom in and you get parcel
lines, rights-of-way and easements; zoom in more and you get driveways,
buildings and rough contours of the land.
Residents can also "layer" the maps to find wetlands, flood zones and
what zoning classification a property is in, Ratkiewich said. "You can
manually remove layers. The fewer layers you show, the easier it is for
this map to regenerate a view," he said.
The new system also allows users to combine properties to see how much
land is available for a subdivision and has pre-set maps of well-known
places in town. "If you add a place to this list, it's not stored on
your computer, it's stored on our computer," Ratkiewich said, adding
that town officials would have to start deleting pre-set maps if
hundreds are added.
Ratkiewich cautioned that maps on the public viewer are not "survey
quality" and date to 2005. "If you really need to get down to cubic
feet of fill and removal, you really need to go out in the field," he
However, permit information, which covers from 1990 to present, is
updated daily and shows active, approved, closed and voided permits,
along with certificates of occupancy. Parcel information, such as the
owner's name, is updated quarterly, Ratkiewich said.
Westport had planned to update its maps every five years, but they
didn't in 2010 due to the bad economy, Ratkiewich said. "It costs about
$150,000 to fly the town and build a new model. It's hard to get
$150,000 out of the taxpayers these days when it's not a critical
task," he said. "It is a very useful system. Eventually it will be
But Westport officials have talked with other towns to see if they want
to combine efforts to lower the cost, Ratkiewich said. "We're trying
every avenue we can find to get the data updated," he said.
In addition to maps, Ratkiewich also explained how to search for a
specific property by address, owner name or parcel ID. "Most people,
when they come onto the GIS, are usually looking for a piece of
property," he said.
The new public viewer also enables residents to draw a 250-foot radius
around a property in case they have to contact neighbors, and they can
get mailing labels for those properties off the new system, Ratkiewich
The public viewer isn't just useful to developers, architects,
engineers and attorneys, according to Ratkiewich. "This is useful even
to the average person. Most people aren't aware of its usefulness until
they start looking at it. How many people have a good aerial view of
their property and the relation of the property line to their house?"
Residents can access the new public viewer via www.westportct.gov.
Their computers should have Internet Explorer 8 or better and "pop up
blockers" need to be turned off.
Additional tutorials are planned at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. March 1 in
Westport Town Hall's auditorium.
happen in CT, too!
Engineers watch Texas homes
for more moving soil
By MICHELLE ROBERTS, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jan 27, 8:51 am ET
SAN ANTONIO – Residents of 25 homes evacuated after a landslide split a
retaining wall and threatened to topple hilltop homes will not be
allowed to return for at least 10 days as engineers watch for further
soil movement, the developer said Tuesday.
The residents, who live within one block of the slide, were evacuated
Sunday after a man called 911 and told officials his backyard was
sliding downhill. Enormous chasms, some 15-feet deep, quickly emerged,
splitting a towering retaining wall below and exposing the foundations
of three hilltop homes.
The developer, Centex Homes, worked Monday and Tuesday to stabilize the
homes and the hillside. The land was still moving slightly Tuesday, but
engineers believed it was nearly stable, said Laurin Darnell, a Centex
About 90 homes were initially evacuated, but residents farther from the
slide were allowed to return Monday. No one was injured.
Valerie Dolenga, a spokeswoman for Pulte Homes Inc., Centex's parent
company, said about half of the residents who remain evacuated may be
able to return in the next 10 to 15 days after soil engineers make sure
their property is stable.
The other residents, whose homes sit on and below the crumbling
hilltop, will be displaced longer as officials determine whether the
houses can be made safe, Darnell said. The company is working with
those families to find longer-term accommodations, he said.
Pulte's engineers continue to investigate the cause of the landslide,
but San Antonio Planning and Development Director Roderick Sanchez said
improper construction of the 30-foot tall, 1,000-foot long retaining
wall and improper compacting of the fill dirt on the home sites caused
Darnell conceded Centex had no city permit to build the retaining wall,
but he said he thought the company followed city regulations and
standard industry practices in its construction. He disputed the city's
allegation that the wall was improperly built.
An earlier retaining wall was torn down and the current one built after
engineers found drainage problems in 2007, he said.
The company's engineers "feel this is very much an isolated incident.
They feel it's being driven by some unique soil characteristics at the
site," he said. He declined to describe those characteristics or
comment on them further.
The engineering investigation should yield more answers on the slide's
cause in the next couple of days, Darnell said.
"I know people want information now. We do more than anybody, but it's
important that we do this in a methodical way," he said.
The development, which was started near the University of Texas at San
Antonio in 2004, has nearly 750 homes with others still under
construction. The upper middle-class neighborhood, with houses that
sell for $250,000, is among dozens that sprung up on the hilly
northwestern outskirts of San Antonio as the city grew to be the
nation's seventh largest.
City officials released a statement Tuesday saying they would have an
inspector monitor construction in the development and hire an
independent structural engineer to evaluate whether the homes are safe.
The city also plans to check permits for all other retaining walls
Pulte built in the city.
Texas has a Residential Construction Commission with the power to
perform inspections, determine fault and suggest remedies in incidents
like this, but the state Legislature did not reauthorize the commission
during the last session, so it can't take on this case.
Patrick Fortner, the commission's acting executive director, said
complaints are being referred to local authorities or the Texas
Attorney General's Office. Residents may want to have their homes
independently inspected if they're worried about stability, he said.
SHORELINE CONNECTICUT THEN AND NOW
How zoning enforcement tries making a difference in keeping the rural
alive on Connecticut's shoreline...Old Lyme hopes it can and so do we!
Old Lyme schedules hearing on proposal to register cottages
By Jenna Cho
Published on 9/12/2009
Old Lyme - Some summer cottages intended for seasonal use have for
years been occupied year-round.
In 1995, in an attempt to figure out exactly which cottages were
seasonal and which were used year-round, the zoning enforcement officer
made the determination based on whatever information the town had on
file, land-use attorney Eric Knapp said.
Who: Old Lyme Zoning Commission
What: Public hearings on: 1) zoning regulations that would
establish a registry system by which residents can prove year-round
residency of their summer cottages, and 2) Shoreline Church's
special-permit application to convert the Our Lady of Good Counsel
Chapel from seasonal to year-round use
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Old Lyme Town Hall
If residents disagreed with the zoning officer's assessment, they had
to provide proof of year-round residency dating back to 1992.
All that led to a lawsuit the South Lyme Property Owners Association
filed in December 1999 challenging, in part, that the 1995 regulations
did not allow for due process. The lawsuit was withdrawn from federal
court in October with the agreement that the town would create a
registry process where residents could participate in providing
documentation that their homes have been occupied either on a seasonal
or year-round basis.
The Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing Monday on proposed
zoning regulations that would establish the rules of this registry
procedure. The procedure would affect some 2,000 cottages in the beach
communities and around Rogers Lake that fall under the R-10 zone, a
residential zone for lots that are 10,000 square feet.
The registry would require homeowners to provide proof of year-round
residency dating back to Dec. 31, 1999, in an effort to finally get a
clear picture on how many homes in town are seasonal and how many are
year-round, Knapp said. The idea, he said, is that while
residents may not have records dating back several decades to prove
they've lived in their cottages year-round during that entire time,
they may have begun keeping records around the time the association
filed the lawsuit.
Registries as part of zoning regulations are nothing new, said land-use
attorney Mark Branse, who works with Knapp at the law firm Branse,
Willis and Knapp in Glastonbury. Registries are often used when
towns have “a prevalent issue of compliance.” Registries then serve as
a type of “amnesty,” Branse said, that towns create as a way for
residents to register their pre-existing use.
”By this date, you register with us,” Branse said of the town's
handling of registries. “You tell us why you think this use is legal.
And if it looks to us like you really were legal as of that magic date,
then we're going to say that you're legal. And if we don't agree with
you, then you can always appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals, just
like anybody could. But the idea is to take what could be hundreds of
issues … and reduce them to a dozen or so.”
In Old Lyme, the “magic date” is Dec. 31, 1999. The proposed zoning
amendment would require that all residents interested in registering
their year-round residency do so by Sept. 30, 2010, and that the town
review all registry applications by Sept. 30, 2011.
The registry procedure would hopefully make the process of proving
year-round residency “less confrontational” because residents would,
instead of simply being told how their homes are being used based on
information at Town Hall, have the opportunity to provide evidence of
year-round occupancy, Knapp said. The town has, in restricting
year-round residency of some summer cottages, been concerned with the
enviromental impact of year-round residency in homes clustered on tiny
But at the true core of the lawsuit, and the town's resistance to
allowing all beach cottages to be occupied year-round, is the fact that
the town wants to preserve the seasonal character of some of its
neighborhoods, Knapp said.
”There's a sense in the community that they like the seasonal nature of
some of these areas,” Knapp said. “That's an important feature of what
it means to be Old Lyme. And they're (at) risk of losing that kind of
But Knapp said the registry would not make it any easier for residents
to convert seasonal homes to year-round occupancy. Rather, the registry
would simply make it easier for residents to demonstrate whether or not
they have been living in their cottages year-round.
”The goal is really to allow people to show that they are doing
something that they were already doing,” Knapp said.
Of The Preserve Gets Split Decision; Judge OKs Golf Course Plan, But
Backs Rejection Of Combo Golf/Housing Development
By Eileen McNamara
Published on 2/22/2008
Old Saybrook — A Middletown Superior
Court judge issued mixed rulings this week on two cases involving a
large housing development and golf course on a swath of coastal forest
known as The Preserve.
In one of her rulings, Judge Julia
L. Aurigemma upheld the town Inland Wetlands Commission's rejection of
a permit for the proposed 221-unit housing complex, which would have
included an 18-hole golf course. Aurigemma found the commission
properly determined the project would negatively affect wetlands on and
near the site.
But in a second opinion, issued the
same day, Aurigemma let stand a 2000 approval by the wetlands
commission of a permit for an earlier 18-hole golf course plan.
Her decision upholding the rejection
of the combined housing and golf course proposal by River Sound
Development is the latest setback for the firm regarding the nearly
1,000-acre property that lies mostly in Old Saybrook, with small
portions that straddle Westbrook and Essex.
But the ruling provides no closure
to an environmental and zoning battle that has gone on for a decade.
The Connecticut Fund for the
Environment is still suing the town's Planning Commission over its
decision several years ago to approve a portion of The Preserve
project. And River Sound can appeal Aurigemma's ruling to uphold the
wetland commission's decision not to issue a permit for the housing
Aurigemma's decision to uphold the
commission's 2000 approval of a golf course proposed for the site was
the result of an appeal a neighbor of the property brought seeking to
overturn the golf course approval. But River Sound would still need
zoning and planning approval of the golf course plans before it could
move forward, a town zoning official said Thursday.
Michael Cronin, the attorney who
represents the town's land use agencies, could not be reached for
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal,
who has opposed the developments on behalf of the state, greeted
Aurigemma's rulings Thursday with lukewarm enthusiasm.
“While we are reviewing these court
decisions, we are encouraged and even more determined to oppose
development of this uniquely pristine area on our shoreline,”
A representative for River Sound
said the developer also is reviewing Aurigemma's decision before
determining how to move forward.
In her decision upholding the denial
of the wetlands permit for the cluster housing plan and golf course,
Aurigemma said River Sound Development did not provide convincing
evidence that the wetlands commission abused its discretion or
overstepped its authority when it refused to issue a permit for the
She said the commission spent dozens
of hours hearing testimony and worked diligently before deciding that
the development posed an environmental threat to the site.
“The commission thoroughly and
painstakingly evaluated the evidence presented to it,” she wrote in her
decision. “On the basis of substantial evidence in the record, the
commission properly determined that the activities proposed by River
Sound would have an adverse impact on the wetlands and watercourses of
the town ... .”
In her decision to uphold the
wetlands commission's 2000 approval of the golf course, Aurigemma found
the commission also properly followed its regulations in determining
the project would not have a significant impact on wetlands.
Environmental groups in the state,
as well as Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection and
Blumenthal, are fighting to stop development of The Preserve, which
lies in the town's northwest corner, because it is one of the largest
and last areas of unprotected forested wetlands along Connecticut's
coast and in the Northeast.
The DEP has sought unsuccessfully to
buy the land for preservation. A bill that would have provided funding
for the purchase of the property died in the legislature last year.
Weighs Development That Could
Reshape Town; Hearing Tonight On 'Gateway': Retail And Housing Near
By Karin Crompton
Published on 5/17/2007
East Lyme — It's a scary thought for a lot of people in town: amending
zoning regulations to allow development of a gigantic store surrounded
by five other big stores, restaurants and a road leading to the biggest
neighborhood in East Lyme.
That's what's currently in front of the Zoning Commission.
Two developers, Konover Properties Corp. of West Hartford and KGI
Properties LLC of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, have teamed to apply
for a regulation change on 200 acres adjacent to Interstate 95 at Exit
74. The area includes property where The Shack restaurant and a driving
range are located.
The second public hearing on the plan is set for 7:30 tonight at the
senior center. The applicant is expected to wrap up its presentation,
and the public will have a chance to comment. No decision is expected
tonight. The regulation change would allow a Home Depot-size
anchor store of up to 140,000 square feet — seven times the square
footage now permitted.
The application also seeks approval for five “junior anchor stores”
ranging from 25,000 to 90,000 square feet, no more than two of which
could exceed 50,000 square feet. The development plan also calls for
hundreds of residential units. A boulevard would snake throughout
the village and the existing I-95 ramps would be realigned. The entire
area would be referred to as Gateway Commons.
Niantic attorney Ted Harris submitted a
sketchbook at the last meeting to give the commission an idea of what
the project could look like. William Mulholland, the town's zoning
official, called the sketches a “visual aid.” According to the
sketchbook, early plans for the 140,000-square-foot building would have
it look like a collection of small stores resembling those in Mystic or
outlet malls in Westbrook and Clinton.
If the regulation change is approved, the commission would have control
over the design of the development, Mulholland said, and could prevent
the developer from changing course and returning with a plan for a
big-box store with an entirely different look.
The applicant's approach is atypical. Instead of providing the smallest
details of an overall plan, the developers are first offering a glimpse
of their ultimate goal and working backwards. The idea is called
“form-based zoning,” an approach Mulholland called “cutting-edge.”
“You look at the development first and then layer the other issues,
such as lighting and design and drainage and traffic, underneath that,”
he said. “It's, 'This is what we could get, what it could look like —
now how do we do that appropriately?' ”
The regulation change, or text amendment, is the first step.
Mulholland outlined a three-step process that would require approval of
the text amendment; approval of a master plan, which would require a
special permit and the applicant to provide details, including a
traffic study and specifics on architecture; and approval of a site
plan for “anything and everything.”
Mulholland said the town has used the approach in considering the
Chapman Farms, Spinnaker, Chapman Woods and Darrow Pond
developments. The conceptual plan for the Gateway Commons project
shows a revamped exit/entrance off I-95 that travels west of the
existing ramp. An existing pool store would remain, and the ramp would
be on the other side of it.
The ramp would route traffic into the commercial part of the
development, with a fork that would allow drivers to travel toward
Gateway Commons or toward Route 161. The residential area would
be separate from the commercial section, with a road connecting the two.
Some neighbors of the proposed project have expressed concerns about
it. According to minutes of the first public hearing two weeks ago,
they asked about buffers, traffic and the potential impact on the
aquifer in the area and the town's tax base, among other issues.
Shows Poverty Follows Families To The Nation's Suburbs
By Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Writer
Published on 12/7/2006
Washington — As Americans flee the cities for the suburbs, many are
failing to leave poverty behind.
The suburban poor outnumbered their inner-city counterparts for the
first time last year, with more than 12 million suburban residents
living in poverty, according to a study of the nation's 100 largest
metropolitan areas released Thursday.
“Economies are regional now,” said Alan Berube, who co-wrote the report
for the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. “Where you see
increases in city poverty, in almost every metropolitan area, you also
see increases in suburban poverty.”
Nationally, the poverty rate leveled off last year at 12.6 percent
after increasing every year since the decade began. It was a period
when the country went through a recession and an uneven recovery that
is still sputtering in parts of the Northeast and Midwest.
“Looking back at the 1970s, you would have seen cities suffering and
suburbs staying the same,” said Berube, research director at the
Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program. “But the story is
Berube said several factors are contributing to an increase in suburban
• Suburbs are adding people much faster than cities, making it
inevitable that the number of poor people living in suburbs would
eventually surpass those living in cities.
• The poverty rate in large cities (18.8 percent) is still higher than
it is in the suburbs (9.4 percent). But the overall number of people
living in poverty is higher in the suburbs in part because of
• America's suburbs are becoming more diverse, racially and
economically. “There's poverty really everywhere in metropolitan areas
because there are low-wage jobs everywhere,” Berube said.
• Recent immigrants are increasingly bypassing cities and moving
directly to suburbs, especially in the South and West. Those
immigrants, on average, have lower incomes than people born in the