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Does Naugatuck Need a Conservation Commission?

Some burgesses feel such a commission might be used to block the development of ball fields and other sports facilities. What do you think?


Suspicions over how it might be used to thwart the development of municipal ball fields stalled action this week on a proposal to establish a Naugatuck Conservation Commission.

Mayor Robert A. Mezzo told the burgesses that if they vote to establish a commission, its role would be mostly advisory, unless they wanted to give it additional authority to oversee management of municipal open space.

But some members of the Board of Mayor and Burgesses, which considered the proposal at a meeting Tuesday, were worried that the Conservation Commission would be used by conservationists or neighborhood advocates to prevent other borough officials from building new recreation facilities.

Burgess Ronald San Angelo said in the past, every time the town wanted to build a sports complex it was opposed by someone. Indeed, a proposal to build such a facility at Oxford High School has received mixed reviews.

Another reason some burgesses opposed creating the commission was that it would create another bureaucracy, although Mezzo assured them it would not have any paid staff and would only be as effective as the members they would appoint.

Among its roles, Mezzo said, would be to inventory open space, research issues for the burgesses and other town officials, formulate watershed management policies and make recommendations on proposed land purchases.

Burgess Michael Bronko said the commission would be redundant, because its responsibilities are already duties of other land-use boards and commissions, such as the Inland Wetlands Commission.

Mezzo said the Inland Wetlands Commission’s job is to issue regulatory permits, not perform the duties that the Conservation Commission would have.

The wetlands and other land-use boards were asked to comment on the proposal, and Mezzo said some Inland Wetlands Commission members gave it a positive recommendation. He promised to present those recommendations to the burgesses at their next meeting.

Have Your Say

Do you think Naugatuck needs a Conservation Commission -- why or why not?

Don Carten July 06, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Does Naugatuck need a Conservation Commission? HELL NO !!! It's difficult enough to get anything accomplished in town without another layer of bureaucracy. This board would become another tool for the all too prevalent NIMBYs to use to block any development in our community.
GLW July 06, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I think that a Conservation Commission would be a welcome addition to the Borough. Some good, long-term strategic planning for land use and watershed issues could go a long way toward avoiding the same thinking that has left us saddled with brownfields. I'm disappointed that several burgesses are opposed to this on the grounds that it will obstruct progress on a new sports complex. Honestly, I'm not really sure why we need yet another sports complex or how we would even fund one given that we're consolidating schools and can't seem to maintain other infrastructure like the Hop Brook Pool. How exactly would a new sports complex grow the tax base or promote economic growth? I really think the long-term benefits for Naugatuck far outweigh the possibility that this proposed commission might object to the development of municipal ball fields.
MatthewK July 06, 2012 at 03:18 PM
I agree with Don, this is not needed. It is redundant to the Planning and Zoning Commissions. GLW you state: "Some good, long-term strategic planning for land use and watershed issues could go a long way toward avoiding the same thinking that has left us saddled with brownfields." What do you think the Borough's "Plan of Conservation and Development" which is developed by the Planning Commission is for. It is created/updated every 10 years and is the 'long-term strategic planning for land use' in the Borough. The plan is listed on the Borough web site. The current one posted is the old one from 2001, not sure why the latest version is not posted yet. In addition to the Plan for Conservation and Development, we also have extensive Zoning Regulations, Wetland Regulations, Aquifer Protection Regulations, and Subdivision Regulations. There has been a lot of work in the past 10 years or so to update these regulations and to make sure they are enforced.
GLW July 06, 2012 at 04:47 PM
MatthewK: I do agree that much has been accomplished in the past decade or so regarding these issues, particularly in the area of regulations. I also believe that the planning commission has done a phenomenal job with the conservation plan and applaud their work. However, despite the potential for considerable overlap with some of the other boards and commissions, I still think there's more that could and probably should be done in these areas. I don't see why existing commissions as well as the board couldn't benefit from the expanded input of a more focused advisory commission. Either way, objections to this proposal on the basis of how it would affect progress on a new sports complex seem entirely tangential to more legitimate concerns that it would duplicate the work of existing commissions. However, if the proposed commission was unnecessarily redundant in scope as you indicated, why was it even proposed and brought up for discussion? I think it would have been more helpful if the article had included more detail about the proposal itself and the corresponding rationale so that readers who weren't there could better understand the debate.
Joseph Savarese July 06, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Conserving open space is a land use function and should fall under the authority of the Zoning Commission. This commission does regulate open space requirements as it pertains to applications for residential, commercial and industrial development. However, new regulations more specific to conservation would be needed, potential open space areas identified and a new zoning category created. These areas can also be incorporated into the Borough's rolling 10 year Plan of Conservation and Development. Planning, Inland Wetlands, Zoning and other commissions have worked very hard over the past few years to streamline the process for development while simultaneously looking out for the interests of the Borough and the citizens who elected the officials to the various commissions. Another commission, or board, or committee that is appointed would be detrimental to the existing land use procedures by fostering redundancy and political favoritism IMHO. Joe Savarese
Vanessa Vowe July 07, 2012 at 09:34 PM
An effective Conservation Commission would serve Naugatuck well. Development projects are great but not at the expense of our precious land and water resources. It only makes sense for our borough leaders to welcome more information and input before making decisions that impact our community.
Marcia Puc August 05, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I have not yet formed an opinion one way or another on the creation of a separate commission on conservation. I am curious though as to why every town i have looked up on google (20 alone in the general vicinity of Naugatuck) has such a commission. I can't imagine they are all getting it wrong. Any thoughts?

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