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CC 11/13/07


Conservation Commission
Regular Meeting
November 13, 2007, 6:00 p.m.
31 Pecks Lane, Newtown, Connecticut

Commissioners Present: Hovious, Barkman, Ferguson, and Kaley.
Staff Present: Rob Sibley, Conservation Official, Tammy Hazen, Clerk.

Executive session to discuss potential purchases of properties convened at 5:33 p.m. and adjourned at 6:00 p.m.

The public hearing was called to order at 6:10 p.m.

The discussion of Julia Wasserman’s Open Space proposal was added to the Agenda.
I.      Public Participation

One member of the public present, Mary Wilson.

II.     Minutes

Minutes of October 23, 2007.  Commissioner Barkman motioned to approve minutes.  Seconded by Commissioner Kaley.  Minutes approved with one change.

III.    Old Business

1.      Update on Plans to Implement 2007-2008 Budget.

2008 – 2009 Budget:  Mr. Sibley met with George Benson, Director of the Land Use Agency, regarding next year’s budget.  It was determined that the budget will remain the same as the current year’s budget.  

2007 – 2008 Budget:  CCA is currently surveying the property on Taunton Lake.  Commissioner Kaley will research training alternatives for the GIS system for the commissioners.    

2.      Commerce Road Economic Development/Open Space Discussion.

Position Paper Update.  Commissioner Hovious sent an updated draft (11/11/07) to the Commissioners.  A drawing of the Open Space will be incorporated.  This is tabled to the December 12th meeting.  

Commissioner Hovious will draft a letter to the EDC asking for a copy of a study conducted by a geo tech group on the stability of the slopes where storm water treatment systems were planned to be installed.  The EDC’s meeting minutes of 10/16/07 notes that the study indicates the area is unstable and may fail with or without the drainage system.  A copy will be sent to Anne Peters, Chair of the Inland Wetlands Commission and to Lilla Dean, Chair of Planning & Zoning.

3.      Possible use of Tax Assessor’s Database for Open Space Tracking.

Commissioner Kaley spoke with Tom Denoto regarding the Tax Assessor’s database and the possibility of access by the Conservation Commission.  Mr. Denoto spoke of either having read-only access to the database, or actually getting a copy of it.  Since the database is updated continually, a copy would not provide the most current information.  The commissioners will have training on the GIS system.  

Mr. Sibley suggested the Commission help to update open space and natural resource information on the town’s GIS system and Tax Assessor’s database.  He also suggested the Commission should go before the Legislative Council and present their mission and discuss ways in which they can index open space and natural resources.

Commissioner Hovious discussed questions that have been raised by the public on the use of open space.  What are the regulations and who answers these questions.  Mr. Sibley stated that he receives these calls and discussed current ordinances.  The Police Department has authority to handle disturbances on open space, such as ATV usage.  Most common questions are from people who want to create new trails or remove a tree that is over the trail.

Mr. Sibley suggests the Conservation Commission go through the current town ordinances and write up clearer protocols.

Action on Recommendation to P & Z to Clarify Open Space Definition.

Mr. Sibley distributed copies of the current open space definitions for Newtown and discussed wording within the current regulations.  Definitions and priorities were discussed.

4.      Report on Care and Custody of Town Open Space.

Mr. Sibley discussed protocols for open space use.  
5.      Action on recommendation to Planning & Zoning to clarify Open Space definition.

Mr. Sibley discussed ideas for Open Space changes to definition.    Subdivision regulation 4.05.400   and 4.05.231  Keep the same regulations, just change the order.

6.      Julia Wasserman’s Property

Mr. Sibley updated the Commission on Ms. Wasserman’s property.  There may be a stipulation added to the proposal of the conservation easement where the land may have restrictive access (due to liability concerns).  If that were so, Mr. Sibley asked the Commissioners if it would change their previous support of the proposal.  The Commissioners stated that although they would prefer public access, they would still appreciate having the open space for wildlife habitat.

IV.     New Business

1.      Transition Planning Discussion.  

Commissioner Hovious discussed the Commissioners meeting with the new First Selectman and providing Herb Rosenthal with a thank you for all the support he has given the Commission.  It was suggested that the commission set up a 10 minute presentation to the legislative council.  

Two Commissioners’ appointments will be expiring on December 31, 2007 and there is still an open position available.  

Commissioner Barkman motioned to adjourn.  Seconded by Commissioner Kaley.  Motion approved.