Mayor Wants Conservation Commission Reconsidered

Naugatuck officials rejected the formation of a commission last week.


The Board of Mayor and Burgesses rejected a proposal to create a in town by a vote of 7-3 last week. Mayor Bob Mezzo and burgesses Mike Ciacciarella and Bob Neth voted for it, while all others voted against the proposal.

The idea was brought forth by resident Melissa Leonard, president of the local land trust. She pointed to many local municipalities, including several in the Naugatuck Valley, that have conservation commissions. She said many communities that have conservation commissions also have ample development and that conserving land and natural resources is not contrary to smart development. Part of her concern in Naugatuck, she said, is that local land use boards regulate development but cannot focus enough of their attention on conservation. 

According to Mezzo, a conservation commission is "separate from local land use boards (planning, zoning, planning and zoning and inland wetlands). Many serve in an advisory capacity to promote the protection of open space, natural resources and watercourses."

He believes such a commission would benefit Naugatuck, and he posted many reasons why on his blog. He writes: 

"Unless the matter is reconsidered, Naugatuck will remain without this valuable resource in the community.  I understand and respect the reservations expressed by some of my colleagues on the (Board of Mayor and Burgesses) regarding creating another commission, increasing staff responsibilities and/or providing a burdensome obstacle to responsible development.  I believe, however, that conserving our natural resources and encouraging the reasonable preservation of open space is a very positive and proactive activity that should be endorsed by the Borough’s legislative body."

Read Mezzo's full blog post here

Vanessa Vowe September 09, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Absolutely we should have a Conservation Commission. I am so disappointed to hear that this was not passed. It seemed like a no-brainer. Every community should approach development projects with a good dose of information about the impact on its natural resources. It is alarming that the majority of Burgesses are not open to having a commission that would help make development decisions more informed. Sad day for all of us in Naugatuck.
MatthewK September 09, 2012 at 10:12 PM
It is a good decision of the borough board not to create yet more bureaucracies in the Borough. We don't need another land use board in town. If needed, make it a responsibility of an existing elected board (such as planning) just like was done for the Aquifer commission, which is part of Zoning Comm.
Michael September 10, 2012 at 12:17 PM
How many more money sucking commissions do you need in this already budget strapped town?
Marcia Puc September 10, 2012 at 12:30 PM
I definitely think some group needs to be actively monitoring our open space and opportunities to acquire new space. From what I understand this commission would only act as an advisory commission and would not be subjected to the usual requirements for commissions. Practically every town in Connecticut has a conservation commission of some kind. Most of our neighboring towns do as well - Bethany, Beacon Falls, Oxford, Middlebury and Prospect.
Marcia Puc September 10, 2012 at 03:06 PM
I'm not sure I understand "money sucking" - the commissions are made up of volunteers.
Juan September 10, 2012 at 03:13 PM
That's all we need is another commission.who's going to pay for it? And what we really need is a parking lot commission in this town. We have alot of empty lots.
Jimmy Ayash September 10, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I don't believe the commission would cost anything besides the need for space to meet, I know some people who would be interested on being on the comm. and they are some of the kindest, educated, passionate people I know. The comm. is needed to not only protect what we have, but to also expand it like some of the more respected towns in our area. In the last twenty years, there has been so many loop holes to certain people getting what they want and not caring about the most important thing in life (our natural resources). I have seen towns and cities get the rug swept from under them because the public wasn't properly educated and what the moves would mean to certain resources which are priceless. I hope they reconsider for my children's and future generations sake!
Andrew Hanson September 11, 2012 at 01:29 AM
I agree with both sides. Maybe we could use this commission but other things are way more important. We need to fill the empty industrial spaces with good businesses and good jobs. Not just government jobs. This is the number one issue on resident's minds. The politicians that actually accomplish this will stay in office. Those that don't should be let go.
Lynn September 11, 2012 at 01:37 AM
I agree Jimmy and our Mayor pretty much summed it all up by stating "I understand and respect the reservations expressed by some of my colleagues on the (Board of Mayor and Burgesses) regarding creating another commission, increasing staff responsibilities and/or providing a burdensome obstacle to responsible development..." Lets start providing burdensome obstacles to responsible development for my children, grandchildren and future generations sake...
Lynn September 11, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Sorry, to irresponsible development, not responsible development!!
Melissa Leonard September 14, 2012 at 08:05 PM
I’m disappointed that many of our Burgesses don’t see the value in a conservation commission. I inevitably see people’s eyes roll and then glaze over when terms like “ecosystem”, “preservation”, or (the worst one of all) “open space” come up. Unfortunately, somewhere in the Borough’s industrialized history, conservation became taboo. Anyone who’s been petitioning for open space preservation in this town for the past 20 years can tell you that it pits you against many town leaders. Even though towns around us and throughout the United States realize that it’s not physically healthy or economically viable to develop every tract of open space, until Bob Mezzo became Mayor the Borough has plodded along with the antiquated mentality that we should try to attract new residents and manufacturing facilities. But the truth is, whether you believe in climate change and mankind’s influence on it or not, preserving undeveloped land makes good economic sense. In addition to reducing the burden on town-provided services (schools, safety, sanitation), ecosystems provide services that keep our habitat comfortable and livable without any outlay of money - things such as pest control, flood control, water filtration, food production, and oxygen production, just to name a few. Some of these services can be duplicated with technology, but not for free. I can’t understand the opinion that wanting to protect those things makes someone an obstructionist.
Melissa Leonard September 14, 2012 at 08:07 PM
If the currently existing land use boards want to include protection of natural resources in their charge, I agree that there’s no need for an additional land use commission. But if this is beyond their scope or ability, then we need to create a commission to do it before we consume and destroy the natural resources that we have left.
GLW September 16, 2012 at 06:14 PM
I agree with the above comments in support of this commission. I believe it is important and needed despite comments to the contrary. Making it another function of an *elected* board does not provide the same level of accountability as an independent commission. There are a lot of smart and talented people in Naugatuck that could bring a lot to such a commission. We really should work harder to bring these voices to the table in more productive ways for the future of Naugatuck. The only "burdensome obstacle to reasonable development" I see in this decision is the power that a few politicians stand to lose by being held to higher standards of accountability on development related decisions.


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