High Meadow Discussion at February 16th Board of Selectman Meeting
Additional High Meadow coverage was a front-page topic in this week’s The Newtown Bee which focused on discussion at the February 16, 2016 meeting of Newtown’s Board of Selectmen. At issue was whether or not the High Meadow property qualified as open space and which boards or commissions had decision-making power.
At this meeting, several citizens gave testimony about the importance of the High Meadow as protected open space. There was a civil disagreement between the town attorney David Grogins, Director of Land Use George Benson, and the public concerning whether or not the installation of a road, parking lot, security lights, and addition of utilities, were considered “passive recreation”. Also in question was whether a restrictive document had to be filed on the land records. This would be in addition to the previously filed open space map, declarations, reference in other municipal documents, and posted signage. Several CT court cases in good standing indicate formal filing on the land records may not be required to qualify a property as open space.
Robert Eckenrode, President of the Newtown Forest Association, the oldest land trust in the state, provided testimony in support of the preservation of High Meadw intact and undisturbed. CPC Director Ann Astarita urged the selectmen to maintain the precedent of protecting open space from development and restore the public trust in the process. .
The High Meadow Declaration document, which was recently revised by Land Use officials on January 28, 2016, and related land record filings are a central issue now being discussed among residents, town officials and the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission (SHPMC).
Of note in this week’s Bee was the lead editorial, Doing it well, that appeared on the Front Page and online. This editorial noted that the pursuit of a Memorial and Open Space don’t have to be mutually exclusive and it is within the power of the town Board of Selectmen and the Memorial Commission to remedy the situation.
If we cannot completely respect the purpose and prerequisites of each of these priorities by lumping them together in this way, we may need to think it through again and consider letting them go their separate ways.
– Doing it Well, Newtown Bee, February 18, 2016