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September 14, 2005 Minutes
Page 1 of 1
TOWN OF EAST WINDSOR
NATURAL RESOURCE PRESERVATION COMMITTEE
A SUBCOMITTEE OF THE EAST WINDSOR
CONSERVATION COMMISSION/INLAND WETLANDS AND WATERCOURSE AGENCY

MEETING MINUTES – REGULAR MEETING

Date:   September 14, 2005

Location:       Melrose School House, Route 140

I.      Attendance
A.      Members Present:  George Grant (Chairman), Mike Kovalcek, Barbara Smigiel, Doug Wilson (Substitute Secretary), Albert Grant (arrived 8:25 PM) – a quorum is present
B.      Members Absent:  Linda Kehoe (Secretary), Jim O’Donnell
C.      Guests:  Bill Syme
II.     Call to Order
A.      G. Grant called the meeting to order at 7:43 PM
III.    Meeting Minutes
A.      Motion by D. Wilson to accept meeting minutes of August 10, 2005 correcting paragraph C of IV New Business – substitute “will” for “with” -  Motion passed all in favor.
B.      M. Kovalcek to submit August 10, 2005 meeting minutes to the Town Clerk
C.      D. Wilson volunteered to keep meeting minutes for the meeting; L. Kehoe is now the acting chairman of the CC/IWWA and may not be willing to continue as secretary for the group given her new duties
IV.     Unfinished Business
A.      Membership Recruitment
1.      D. Wilson & M. Kovalcek have been appointed by the Board of Selectmen, all available vacancies are now filled.
2.      G. Grant noted that if others are interested, then alternate positions could be added to the NRPC; the CC/IWWA would probably need to create the positions since the NRPC is a subcommittee of the CC/IWWA
3.      M. Kovalcek indicated that a minimum of 2 alternate positions would be preferable
B.      Referendum on Bonding
1.      G. Grant reported that the Board of Selectmen (BOS) voted to accept the referendum question with the condition that the Board of Finance (BOF) also endorse the question; at the BOF meeting, no action was taken, since the BOF did not feel that they had enough information on the fiscal impact to residents; as a result, the deadline to put the question on the November ballot has expired
2.      G. Grant offered options that could be pursued by the committee to obtain the bonding ability requested in the referendum question:
a.      An individual referendum could be requested.  The cost of the referendum is an issue.
b.      Wait until the November 2006 ballot.  This eliminates the issue of cost.
c.      Bring the issue to a town meeting.  The meeting would have to be established by the BOS, with proper notice to the public.
3.      B. Smigiel indicated that a town meeting could move the issue to a referendum
4.      B. Smigiel suggested that we go to the BOS with a petition for a town meeting
5.      G. Grant indicated that he is in favor of a town meeting
6.      D. Wilson presented an alternative concept: we create the open space plan; identify an individual property (or properties); formulate a deal with the current owner the purchase of development rights, a conservation easement or fee simple of the property – then we could present an argument to the town/residents on that specific property which meets the goals of the open space plan, is in jeopardy of development, etc. with specific cost and criteria (use for farming to continue or passive recreation, etc.)
7.      G. Grant feels that the town should have the money first to better attract owners to participate in conservation efforts
8.      B. Smigiel thinks that the issue of open space is ripe now, especially due to the open space issue raised by P&Z; there are also visible signs of development in the town; if the economics were expressed simply enough, people would understand
9.      D. Wilson primarily supports individual property referendum, but would not be opposed to trying to get monies allocated up front through the bonding effort
10.     D. Wilson questioned what is the best schedule for the town meeting & prior education? G. Grant – January for meeting
C.      Marketing
1.      B. Smigiel noted that marketing support is absolutely necessary to get information to the public; the marketing must be in place to keep the focus on the goal of the bonding effort
2.      G. Grant indicated that the Trust for Public Lands (TPL) was willing to provide support to the Town, but that there must be a request from the BOS for that support
3.      B. Smigiel would still like to do workshops/Town forum on the impact of development on taxes
4.      B. Smigiel asked what assistance TPL can provide
5.      G. Grant will check to see if the TPL will come speak to the NRPC without a request from the BOS; the TPL can provide information on their programs and general open space issues as well as advising the NRPC on specific help that TPL can provide for marketing
D.      Open Space Plan
1.      D. Wilson reported that wetlands, flood plains, and any other geographic information system (GIS) data from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) can be shown on the open space map – the only problem is visibility – too many lines and hatches conflicting; suggested that the open space plan focus on the greenway paths shown on the Town Plan of Conservation and Development – one along the Scantic River (north to south), one east to west (possibly on CL&P right-of-ways [something to add to the drawing]); could include a possible connection to wildlife refuge open space in the northeast corner of South Windsor
2.      D. Wilson indicated that the NRPC needs to identify the types of open space we are looking to preserve; possibilities include:
a.      Natural preserves
b.      Wildlife corridors
c.      Farmland
d.      Public access areas
e.      Linear greenways
3.      B. Smigiel indicated that the focus should be on farming; that activity provides commerce & diversity in the community; Connecticut River valley farms are a cultural asset and the history should be passed to the next generation; farming and other cultural assets can also improve tourism – something that commercial areas have a limited ability to do
4.      G. Grant has added conservation land and farms on his copy of the open space map
5.      D. Wilson noted that the inventory/open space plan will need to be a written document some day (see the outline provided at the August 10, 2005 meeting)
6.      G. Grant noted that the farmland evaluation criteria will need to be expanded to cover other types of open space; will check for copy of farmland evaluation criteria
7.      B. Smigiel indicated that there is a subjective element to choosing properties; all members of the group bring a different point of view to the selection
8.      D. Wilson noted that the written plan, in the end, will need an objective ranking system so that the Town Planner and PZC can use the plan to review development proposals and the BOS can use the plan to evaluate acquisitions; there is a similar process for setting criteria in the book “Town Farmland Preservation”
9.      D. Wilson will have L. Whitten make copies of the “Town Farmland Preservation” book for the group to review
V.      New  Business
A.      Revisions to P&Z regulations
1.      A. Grant questioned what the NRPC can do as a group about the new Planning & Zoning regulations?  Concretely?
2.      D. Wilson offered that the group members can review the draft regulations early, bring comments to the NRPC meeting for discussion, and then attend the P&Z workshops to provide input (perhaps as a group)
3.      D. Wilson to contact L. Whitten for copies of the draft regulation revisions
4.      D. Wilson recommended that the group review the definition of open space in the regulations; the term is used differently in different portions of the current regulations; sometimes the term is used to describe the portion of a developed site that is not covered with impervious area (lawns, parking islands…)
5.      B. Smigiel estimated that the P&Z workshops would not start until January – leaving time for the NRPC to provide input; suggested that the NRPC market the changes in the regulations along with the referendum, possibly increasing the attendance at the workshops
B.      Terrace Escarpment Seminar
1.      D. Wilson reported that there is a seminar on terrace escarpments (a unique and prevalent natural feature in town) on Thursday, September 15 at Town Hall
VI.     Close of Meeting
A.      D. Wilson made a motion to close the meeting, motion passed all in favor
B.      Meeting closed at 9:43 PM