Category Archives: Easton Government

P&Z PUBLIC HEARING, MONDAY MAY 20, 2019 6PM @ HELEN KELLER

On Monday May 20th 6 PM, at the Helen Keller Cafetorium, P&Z will hold a hearing on the proposed zoning regulations.

We are very concerned with these regulations as they restrict how homeowners may use their properties including but not limited to restrictions on home businesses, storage of boats , trailers and other recreational vehicles. Also included are descriptions of permissible businesses in the newly created Easton Village District.

See the prior post below (CitizensforEaston.org) for a link to the Draft Regulations.Please consider attending this very important public hearing.

P & Z – PUBLIC HEARING ON NEW ZONING REGULATIONS

Monday May 20th 6 PM, Helen Keller Cafetorium

Click here {Proposed Zoning Regulations} for public notice and click below to view proposed regulations

 

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SADDLE RIDGE HEARING UPDATE!

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LETTER TO P&Z ON THE DRAFT PLAN OF CONSERVATION & DEVELOPMENT

Dear Planning and Zoning Commission:

I am supplementing my prior comments to you on the draft Plan of Conservation and Development because while I previously emphasized the reasons why you should not include some of your concepts in the POCD, in so doing, to some extent I neglected to address the reasons which you give for including your concepts.

Your concepts for the village district and commercial zone and clustered development (as well as congregate care, age-restricted housing and planned retirement communities which I had not previously commented on) are proposals for radical changes in zoning in Easton. We should all be able to agree that if radical changes are to be implemented, there should be good reasons for doing so. Let’s take a brief look at your reasons.

P&Z has stated that the village district concept may help lower taxes in Easton. Incorrect. It would take 185 Easton Village stores to make a 10% reduction in taxes.

P&Z has stated that the village district concept will improve the grand list and house sales which are lagging behind other towns. Incorrect. The latest statistics for the first half of the year as published by one of the members of the planning and zoning commission shows that Easton leads all of the neighboring towns in the percentage increase in number of homes sold for the first half of the year. In that same report, although the median selling price for the same period has decreased by 14%, this is pretty much on par with all of the neighboring towns with the exception of Redding which increased by 9.2% and Wilton which increased by 3.9%. We would suggest that Easton sells better than all of the surrounding towns and that might well be due to its bucolic nature which in the future will become more and more important as other towns continue their commercial development.

P&Z has stated that the village district will provide a place for town people to congregate. Incorrect. There are already many places of congregation in town including the already existent grandfathered businesses within the proposed village district.

P&Z has stated that the village district will provide more control to P&Z. Incorrect. The planning and zoning commission already has ample control over the grandfathered businesses in the proposed village district. Moreover, the town does not now enforce the regulations which it has, evidenced by the apparent violation existing currently within the proposed village district and other obvious violations in town such as the logging operation on Route 59.

The planning and zoning commission also argues that it would be desirable to encourage millennials to move to Easton. While some would argue against that, in any event creating a village district is not going to do it. What might be of help would be to increase the amenities available in town, such as a year-round swimming pool for residents, but the cost of such improvements is probably prohibitive. What might be of help, and importantly not significantly costly, would be to give every new resident a one-year free membership in the Easton Community Center. To do so would encourage use of a presently existing gathering place in Easton and perhaps would encourage use and support of the Community Center after the year’s free membership.

I have not previously addressed the POCD concepts of “congregate care or similar facilities to provide housing alternatives,” “age-restricted housing/planned retirement communities,” or “multifamily dwellings.” All of these concepts, while not fully developed in the POCD, would be radical changes in our zoning and, as the commission itself points out, difficult to achieve given the need for protection of the water supply to over 400,000 Fairfield County residents which Easton provides.

The Board of Selectmen has received and is considering the POCD. I urge the members of the Board of Selectmen and indeed all of the citizens of Easton to oppose the radical changes proposed in the plan of conservation and development. Many do not recognize that the planning and zoning commission is the only entity which will vote on the POCD. The citizens of Easton do not have a vote in this matter. The commission is, however, holding a public hearing on October 1 at which comments will be received. The commission previously held a public hearing in June with about 130 people in attendance. The strong majority of those in attendance was to oppose radical changes in our zoning as suggested in the draft POCD. Nevertheless, the commission ignored the sentiment of the meeting and made virtually no changes in the draft POCD. Hopefully, if a large number of residents oppose the radical changes at the meeting on October 1, the planning and zoning commission will heed the sentiment of the town’s people and remove the proposed radical changes and keep Easton to jewel of Fairfield County.

 

Bill Kupinse

South Park-Sacred Heart Proposal to Lease for Baseball Field- Thursday August 16th, 7:30 PM at Senior Center

Sacred Heart University will be presenting a proposal to lease a portion of the South Park Property for the purpose of a baseball field. The public is invited to comment and ask questions. This is agenda item #1 of the regular BOS meeting.
Item #3 is public comment.
We urge you to attend.

Planning & Zoning Special Meeting Agenda for Thursday, July 12 at 7 p.m.

P&Z will review with Glenn Chalder comments received as a result of the public information meeting held June 20, 2018.

If you wish for your opionion to be considered, it must be received prior to this meeting. Please email P&Z at: manania@eastonct.gov

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PUBLIC MEETING ON 2018 PLAN OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT WEDNESDAY JUNE 20

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P&Z Releases Proposed Update to Plan of Conservation & Development

Do you cherish what makes Easton a special oasis amidst the bustle of Fairfield County? P&Z is considering a “Village District” in the proposed update of the Easton Plan of Conservation and Development (click here for more info) that could allow new commercial businesses in the Firehouse Green, Route 59 and Silverman’s Farm area such as small retail, specialty shops, restaurants, farm/garden centers, craft centers, businesses, professional offices, and public buildings.

P&Z will hold a public meeting on the draft on Wednesday, June 20, 7 p.m. at Helen Keller Middle School.

Existing retail establishments in town predate current zoning restrictions adopted in the 1940s when the town forefathers wisely enacted one- and three-acre residential zoning to control development and protect the watershed. With increasing stresses on the watershed and development pressures, it is more important than ever to retain our existing zoning.

SOUTH PARK PRESENTATION-SAVE THE DATE!

Forever Yours or Forever Gone: On Thursday, August 18, 2016 (location and time to be determined by Board of Selectmen) Citizens for Easton will present to the Selectmen a proposal to retain the unique 29.6 South Park Avenue property as open space in perpetuity. This pastoral landscape is part of Easton’s rural character and abuts the Mill River, one of only nine Class A Wild Trout streams left in Connecticut. Your presence will send a strong message to the Selectmen that townspeople feel very strongly about preserving this important part of Easton’s character and heritage for current and future generations.

Please also pass this information to others interested in preserving part of what makes Easton special and safeguarding the sensitive Mill River.

Email cfe@citizensforeaston.org to signup for important updates.

Thank you for your support!

PAINE OPEN SPACE HISTORY

To visit Paine Open Space, follow Stepney Road/ Rt 59 to a left turn onto Judd Road; turn left. Right on Maple Road (shortly past April Drive) and go 1 mile. Turn right into the main entrance.

The Easton Conservation Commission was constituted in 1970 with the responsibility of enforcing the state Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act.  Under State Statute, the commission has the following additional responsibilities:

• To develop, conserve, supervise and regulate natural resources including water resources.

• To conduct research and provide recommendations into the actual and potential use of land areas.

• To keep an index of all open areas whether public or privately owned.

• To acquire land in the name of the town when deemed advisable.

Major land acquisition

In 1975 the town completed one of the largest land acquisitions in its history.  At this time Conservation Commission members Alden Speare,  Robert J. Nicola, Pauline S. Marks, Leslie B. Warren,  Mimi J. Boyd, Jean Everett and Margaret Kerr made the recommendation that the town purchase 128 acres of land from Ralph D. Paine Jr.  for what is known as the Paine Open Space.

The purchase was a collaborative effort with a total of $435,000 being raised.  Half of the funds came from a federal grant, while the remainder was split evenly between the state of Connecticut and the town of Easton.

Paine Open Space

Easton owns the majority of the Paine Open Space, however,  the Aspetuck Land Trust owns two adjacent parcels containing approximately 10 acres. Since the original acquisition, the Conservation Commission and the town have added an additional 15 acres for a total of more than 150 acres that will be preserved forever.

All parcels are interconnected with hiking trails that meander through different habitats from open meadows to woodland areas, as well as wetlands with a number of ponds and bridges.  There is even an island that is connected by a bridge in one of the larger ponds.

The trails are great for hiking and horseback riding, as well as snowshoeing or cross country skiing in the winter.  Many residents have enjoyed ice skating on one of the ponds in the colder months.  There are 10 ponds of varying sizes on the property and seven interconnected ponds built by Paine.  Go to eastonct.gov and enter Paine in the search section for a downloadable map of the Paine Open Space trail system.

We encourage all Eastonites, young and old, to explore this beautiful piece of town-owned land. The property is on Maple Road with two entrances. The main entrance,  between #210 and #220,  has plenty of parking while a smaller entrance further down the road,  beyond  #290, can accommodate a couple of cars only.

Since federal funds were used to cover part of the Paine Open Space purchase price, the following rules are in place:

• Open daily during daylight hours.

• No motor vehicles of any kind, including ATVs, are allowed except in designated parking areas and for maintenance and emergency use.

• No hunting or discharging of firearms.

• No fires permitted for any purpose.

• No smoking allowed.

• No cutting or felling of trees or removal of plants or plant material.

• Horses restricted to designated trails.

• No camping, swimming or picnicking.

• Dogs must be leashed.

Historic hay barn

A classic English hay barn on the Paine property was built in 1847.  Today, only the stone foundation remains.  Easton wanted to repair the barn and raised funds to do so, but since the building inspector wouldn’t let preservationists onto the roof for safety reasons, the restoration was never completed.

The barn was offered to the public, and John Baldwin of Canterbury was awarded the barn by Easton’s Board of Selectmen.  Baldwin owns a home built in 1712, and he planned on rebuilding the Paine barn on the site of an old barn foundation is on his property.

Enjoyed by diverse groups

Many different groups have enjoyed the Paine Open Space over the years.  In addition to visits by Easton residents, the property was used for a Sacred Heart University student film class project entitled, “Purdy’s Crossing” about the underground railroad.

The property was also used by Easton Woods and Fields  (horse-riding group) for trail riding.  Recently, the Easton Fire Department conducted a mock fire rescue at Paine Open Space.

Various Troop 66 Eagle Scout projects have been completed on the property.  Anthony Battaglia and his team created a new trail that connected two existing trails.  Dan Gonzalo and his team built and repaired several bridges.  Other Scouts have helped with trail marking over the years.

Precious property

Over the years there have been several acts of vandalism at the Paine Open Space.  Though all residents are encouraged to use this wonderful town asset, everyone who visits should remember that Paine is a town park, for the use by the townspeople.  Each of us should safeguard it as we do our own backyards.

Ralph D. Paine Jr.

Ralph “Del” Delahaye Paine Jr. was born March 31, 1906, in New Jersey and died January 12, 1991.  He was the oldest son of author and journalist Ralph Delahaye Paine Sr. and had two younger twin brothers. Ralph Paine attended Yale University, where he was a member of Skull and Bones and graduated in 1929.

Like some other Eastonites, Paine was a Wall Street securities analyst after college.  He became the business editor for Time magazine in 1933.

In 1938, he was the personal assistant to publisher Henry Luce, the co-founder of Time.  During World War II, Paine was in charge of The March of Time newsreel series and the European operations of Time Inc. publications.

Paine served as managing editor of Fortune from 1941 to 1953 and following the departure of Charles Douglas Jackson, he was publisher from 1953 to 1967. During his tenure, the magazine created its famous Fortune 500 list.  Paine also served as publisher of Architectural Forum from 1954 to 1963 and House and Home from 1962 to 1963.

Over the period of 1936 to 1941 the Paine family acquired the eight parcels of land that was to become the Paine Open Space.

In 1947, Paine married Nancy White, who at the time was associate fashion editor of Good Housekeeping and later became the editor of Harper’s Bazaar.

At the time of his death, Paine was president and treasurer of the Vermont real estate holdings company Barton Mountain Corporation.

Conservation Commission and Inland Wetlands Agency

As the Inland Wetlands Agency, the commission enforces the provisions of Connecticut’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act.  In this capacity, it reviews applications for regulated activities, conducts site visits and if appropriate, holds public hearings prior to approving or denying a permit.

The Conservation Commission is responsible for maintaining town-owned land designated as open space and also for planning future open space acquisitions.  To that effect, it works closely with developers and conservation groups, recommending to the Planning and Zoning Commission specific areas to be acquired by the town or otherwise protected.

Recent maintenance activities at the Paine Open Space included replacing drainage pipes under several trails, trimming trees that have been damaged in storms and other general maintenance activities.  Commission member Steve Corti has been doing most of the work along with help from a neighbor, Peter Smith.  Depending on availability, Easton’s Highway Department has been lending a helpful hand as well.

Aspetuck Land Trust

The Aspetuck Land Trust is a non-profit Connecticut Corporation devoted to preserving  open space and the natural resources of Easton, Fairfield, Weston and Westport for the benefit of the public.  You can visit their website at

— Other Conservation Commission/Inland Wetlands Agency members also contributed to this report.