The Stonington Board of Selectmen held a regular meeting on this date at 7:00 p.m. at the Stonington Police Station. Present were First Selectman William S. Brown, Selectman Stephen E. Bessette and Selectman Peter L. Balestracci. Also present were Conservation Commission members Stanton W. Simm, Jr., Ben Baldwin, and Jennifer Herbst; Alicia Betty from the Trust for Public Land; students from Stonington High School; members of the public; and members of the press.
(1) Call to Order
Mr. Brown called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
(2) Consider and act on Professional Services Agreement requested by Conservation Commission
Conservation Commission member Jennifer Herbst, Chair of the sub-committee on open space and land acquisition, introduced Alicia Betty from the Trust for Public Land (the TPL), who spoke about the organization and the proposed Professional Services Agreement between the Town and the TPL for technical assistance regarding funding and programs for acquiring open space. The documents have been reviewed and approved by the Town Attorney.
Ms. Betty is a project manager at the TPL’s office in Connecticut. The TPL is a National Land Conservation Organization, founded over 30 years ago, whose mission is to conserve land for parks and gardens and facilitate the purchase of open space. The TPL created a Conservation Finance team that focuses on raising funds for open space. They propose to study the fiscal picture of the Town and the capacity and willingness of its citizens to create funds for open space. They have done this same type of feasibility research in many towns, such as Westbrook, which approved a 2 million dollar bond authorization, and Newtown, which approved a 10 million dollar bond authorization.
Stan Simm, Chairman of the Conservation Commission, commented that the Town of Stonington now has the option of receiving a “fee in lieu of open space” as part of our land regulations, which amounts to 10% of the original value of developed property. The funds from the “fee in lieu of open space” are set aside for future use in acquiring valuable open space parcels. We have collected about $40,000 as of this date, and there is more than $240,000 “in the pipeline.” It is Mr. Simm’s understanding that those funds could be used to pay off a bond for open space. The Town’s Open Space fund previously contained $160,000, plus the $40,000 we’ve collected gives us about $200,000 now.
Mr. Bessette inquired how the TPL makes its money. Ms. Betty responded they are a non-profit 501 C 3 organization. They seek donations from private individuals; they also charge a small fee (to be paid by the Conservation Commission) for their report. Mr. Bessette inquired if the TPL manages properties, to which Ms. Betty responded no.
Mr. Balestracci inquired if the Conservation Commission has the money in their budget to pay for the TPL’s services, to which Mr. Simm responded yes.
Mr. Brown read a letter dated August 17, 2005 from Ben Baldwin, Conservation Commission member, requesting that the Board of Selectmen take action to approve the Professional Services Agreement. Mr. Brown commented that the Agreement was referred to the Town Attorney, who worked out acceptable language with the TPL. Brief discussion was held regarding the actual fee to be paid to the TPL, which was determined to be $1,500.
A motion was made by Mr. Balestracci, seconded by Mr. Bessette and unanimously voted to approve the Professional Services Agreement between the Town of Stonington and the Trust for Public Land and authorize Stanton W. Simm, Chairman of the Conservation Commission, to sign said Agreement on behalf of the Town.
(3) Consider and act on acceptance of Conservation Easement
Mr. Brown read a memo dated October 14, 2005 from Jason Vincent, Director of Planning, requesting that the Board of Selectmen approve a Conservation Easement and Public Access Easement as part of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval of T & J Development, LLC’s 3-lot subdivision at 196 South Anguilla Road, Pawcatuck.
A motion was made by Mr. Balestracci, seconded by Mr. Bessette and unanimously voted to approve and accept the Conservation Easement as recommended by Mr. Vincent.
(4) Consider and act on request for permission to occupy public right of way for private sewer connection
Mr. Brown read a memo dated November 16, 2004 from Harold Storrs, Director of WPCA, stating that a private owner of property located a considerable distance away from the end of the Town sewer system has requested permission to connect. Theoretically, the connection would consist of a single, dedicated pipe leading from the applicant’s property along a Town road to the public sewer. The applicant would continue to own the pipe and be responsible for its maintenance and repair. There would be no other connections. The WPCA has agreed in principal to allow the connection conditioned upon his obtaining authorization from all other relevant parties and agencies. The issue was forwarded to the Town Attorney, who determined (in a letter dated
December 3, 2004) that the Board of Selectmen could grant an easement, with the proviso that the property owner at their cost and expense would have to relocate the sewer line within the town road if the town further develops the road and the location or size of that pipe needs to be changed.
Mr. Bessette inquired about the particular property in question, and Mr. Brown indicated that it’s a marina on Mason’s Island Road. Mr. Bessette inquired about development plans at the marina, such as condominiums, and would they be tying in to this sewer line. Mr. Brown commented that the WPCA is completely up to speed regarding plans for development at the marina and they have no problem with what the property owner wishes to do. Mr. Balestracci stated as long as WPCA has no problem, he has no problem with this matter.
A motion was made by Mr. Balestracci, seconded by Mr. Bessette and unanimously voted to authorize an easement to be created to allow the property owner to connect to the town sewer at his own expense.
(5) Consider and act on request for refund of IWWC application fee
Mr. Brown read a letter dated October 19, 2005 from Steven Milner of Sound Properties, Inc., requesting a refund of a $200.00 Inland Wetlands and Watercourses application fee that was mistakenly charged to him by the Planning and Zoning Office. Mr. Brown also read a memo dated October 26, 2005 from Jason Vincent, Director of Planning, recommending said refund.
A motion was made by Mr. Bessette, seconded by Mr. Balestracci and unanimously voted to refund $200.00 to Mr. Milner.
(6) Bid Awards / Letters of Agreement - None.
(7) 9-1-1 Street Numbering - None.
a. Mr. Brown read a memo from the Town of Westerly, lifting the water ban.
(9) Re/Appointments Boards and Commissions - None.
(10) Old Business - None.
(11) New Business
Mr. Brown read a letter dated October 24, 2005 from Marc Ginsberg, who states that Montauk Associates subdivided and sold land off Montauk Avenue and presently hold title to an 8.5 acre parcel of open space that was established when the subdivision was approved. Access to the parcel is available from Bittersweet Way, a road that was constructed when the subdivision was built and which road has been deeded to the Town. The open space parcel abuts other land owned by the Town and the owners wish to gift the parcel to the Town if the town is interested. They would like to complete the transaction during the calendar year 2005. Mr. Brown also read a memo dated October 26, 2005 from Jason Vincent, Director of Planning, recommending that the Board of
Selectmen consider this offer.
A motion was made by Mr. Brown, seconded by Mr. Balestracci and unanimously voted to forward this matter to the Planning & Zoning Commission for a report in accordance with CGS Section 8-24.
Mr. Balestracci inquired about the amount of taxes currently being paid on this parcel, and Mr. Brown responded he will get that answer.
(12) Comments from the Public
Mark Tebbets, 14 Sunrise Avenue, Pawcatuck, introduced himself, his father, Al, and his son, Mark. Mr. Tebbets handed out information regarding Greenhaven subdivision and talked about Elizabeth Avenue. He stated that the subdivision was laid out in the 1930’s. Sunrise Avenue, the road he lives on, was paved in the 1960’s. Elizabeth Avenue remained as a gravel road, no one ever built a house on it, and the road has not been maintained. At some point in time, someone drew up a list of “Town Accepted Roads” and Elizabeth Avenue was not placed on the list. It should have been, because it was the same as all the other roads in the original subdivision. His father owns Lots #7 & 8 on Elizabeth Avenue, and wants
to apply for a building permit. According to the Town’s Planning Director and Zoning Official, in order to be able to build, we must bring the road up to “town standards”. Mr. Tebbets commented that one land owner cannot afford to do this alone. He suggested that the Town should consider accepting Elizabeth Avenue as a Town Road, because the land would then be taxable as building lots. He commented that he and his father could go to the Zoning Board of Appeals and try to get a variance to build, but he requests that the Board of Selectmen take a close look at the Elizabeth Avenue situation and put Elizabeth Avenue on the list of approved streets.
Brief discussion was held about the length of roadway Mr. Tebbetts was referencing, and consensus was approximately 800 feet. Discussion was also held about what “town standards” means. Does it mean just paving, or does it mean curbs and sidewalks and drainage?
Al Tebbets spoke, saying that when the original development was accepted by the town it was accepted “as is”. The gravel road is solid and the Board of Selectmen should accept the roadway.
Vincent Faulise, Pawcatuck, inquired about a bid notice he saw in the newspapers regarding a separate building to be built on the site of the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center. He showed the ad to Mr. Brown, who responded that the ad is to procure bids for an environmental inspection of the property. This must be done before proceeding with any plans for building.
There being no further business to come before the Board, the regular meeting was adjourned at 7:53 p.m.
Kathy A. Kent