Town of Ridgefield, CT
Fairfield County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town of Ridgefield 4-13-1994 (Ch. 13, Art. VI of the 1974 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
A. 
The scenic and rural roads of the Town of Ridgefield are irreplaceable resources. The scenic values of some rural roads in Ridgefield have been destroyed or are in danger of destruction because of past or potential alterations to their rights-of-way. Such alterations have had, and could continue to have, an adverse impact on the quality of Ridgefield's aesthetic and historical environment that is of great benefit to residents and visitors alike.
B. 
Connecticut General Statutes § 7-149a found that the preservation and protection of the scenic or historic values of rural roads are essential to the welfare of the people of Connecticut. It is the purpose of this chapter to balance the need to provide for convenient and safe public transportation routes with the need to preserve these scenic and rural values.
C. 
Pursuant to the authority granted by C.G.S. § 7-149a, the Town of Ridgefield shall provide for the designation of certain Town highways or portions thereof within its borders as scenic roads.
The authority to designate a Town road, or any portion of a Town road, as a scenic road is hereby delegated to the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Ridgefield in accordance with the provisions of C.G.S. § 7-149a(b).
[Amended 2-28-1996]
No road or portion thereof shall be designated as a scenic road unless the Board of Selectmen affirmatively finds that each of the following requirements has been satisfied:
A. 
The owners of a majority of lot frontage abutting the road or portion thereof to be designated as a scenic road have filed a written statement of approval of said designation with the Town Clerk and the Assessor has certified that the owners who signed the designation do, in fact, constitute the owners of a majority of said lot frontage.
B. 
The road has no commercially zoned land.
C. 
The Director of Public Services has filed a report which includes the road's condition for travel by the motoring public, any repairs or improvements to accommodate existing traffic volume, projected traffic volume that is anticipated over the next five years, and public works plans for the road for the next five years.
[Amended 3-17-2010]
D. 
The entire road has been offered for dedication, or, if only a portion has been offered, that portion measures at least 1/2 mile in length.
E. 
The road possesses at least three of the following characteristics:
(1) 
It passes through agricultural land.
(2) 
It abuts land on which is located an historic building or structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the State Register of Historic Places or an inhabited building constructed prior to 1800.
(3) 
It affords vistas of marshes, shoreline, forests with mature trees or notable geologic or other natural features.
(4) 
It is unpaved.
(5) 
The majority is bordered by mature trees of at least 12 inches in caliper or rare species or stone walls.
(6) 
Its traveled portion is no more than 20 feet in width.
(7) 
It parallels or crosses either brooks, streams, lakes or ponds.
(8) 
Vehicular traffic count is fewer that 500 cars per day.
(9) 
The combination of features possessed by the road makes it distinct from other roads in the Town of Ridgefield.
[Amended 1-27-1999]
A. 
Application. An application for designation of a Town road or a portion of a Town road as a scenic road may be initiated by the Planning and Zoning Commission or the Board of Selectmen or initiated by and signed by the owners of a majority of the lot frontage abutting the road or a portion thereof. Any application will be submitted to the Board of Selectmen and, simultaneously, certified copies of said application shall be filed with the Town Clerk and the Assessor. Said application shall contain the following information:
[Amended 3-17-2010]
(1) 
The name of the road and a description, including a photo representative of the portion of the road which is proposed for designation as a scenic road.
(2) 
A written statement of approval of the designation of the road, or portion thereof, as a scenic road signed by the owners of a majority of the lot frontage abutting the road or portion thereof.
(3) 
A report providing pertinent information on the road, or portion thereof, proposed for designation as a scenic road. Said report shall include such facts and other information as are sufficient to satisfy the requirements contained in § 292-3.
(4) 
The names and addresses of all owners of lot frontage abutting the road, or portion thereof, and the length of the lot frontage of each owner.
B. 
Duties of the Assessor. Within 30 days from the date that the Assessor is notified of the filing of the application, the Assessor shall prepare and submit to the Board of Selectmen a report stating that, based upon information contained in the Assessor's records, the persons who signed the application and statement of approval either do or do not constitute the owners of a majority of the lot frontage abutting said road, or portion thereof. The Assessor shall also state in said report the total lot frontage abutting said road, or portion thereof, and the total lot frontage of the owners who have signed the application and statement of approval.
C. 
Recommendation of Planning and Zoning Commission. The Board of Selectmen shall refer the application to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a recommendation. The Board of Selectmen may not designate a road as scenic without the approval of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
[Amended 3-17-2010]
D. 
Public hearing. The Board of Selectmen shall hold a public hearing on said application within 65 days from the date that the application is filed. Notice of said public hearing shall be given by the Board of Selectmen by legal notice in the Ridgefield Press. In addition, the Board of Selectmen shall notify, by regular mail, all of the lot owners listed in said application of the public hearing.
E. 
Decision. The Board of Selectmen shall act upon the application within 65 days of the conclusion of the public hearing. For reasonable cause, the Selectmen may extend this time period for an additional 180 days. The Board of Selectmen shall state in its decision its findings and the reasons therefor with respect to each requirement contained in § 292-3. Notice of the decision shall be published in a legal notice in the Ridgefield Press.
F. 
Statement of approval. Within 30 days of publication, the owners of a majority of lot frontage abutting the scenic road acted upon by the Selectmen shall agree to said designation by filing a written statement of approval with the Town Clerk, which approval shall become a record of the Town in such manner as the Town Clerk shall deem appropriate.
[Amended 3-17-2010]
G. 
Rights of landowners.
(1) 
Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to prohibit a person owning or occupying land abutting the scenic road from maintaining and repairing the land which abuts the road so designated if the maintenance is on land not within the right-of-way, paved or unpaved, of the scenic road, or from having access to his or her property by a driveway or subdivision road by encroachment within the rights-of-way, provided that such encroachment is constructed so as to safeguard the basis for a scenic road as recorded by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
(2) 
Nothing herein shall prohibit a landowner from permanently removing a portion of a stone wall in order to construct or improve a driveway or, in case of a subdivision, to connect a subdivision road with a designated scenic road, but these activities must be consistent with these guidelines and subject to Planning and Zoning Commission approval.
H. 
This chapter shall apply only to accepted Town roads.
The Board of Selectmen, either on its own initiative or upon an application filed by owners of a majority of the lot frontage abutting the scenic road, may rescind the designation of the road as a scenic road in the same manner as it may designate a scenic road, as set forth in § 292-4. The Board shall not rescind such designation except upon an affirmative finding that said road no longer satisfies the requirements as set forth in § 292-3.
A. 
Preservation objective. The Town shall maintain its scenic roads in good and sufficient repair and in passable condition, pursuant to its regular schedule for maintenance of Town roads. Routine maintenance and alterations and reconstruction of a scenic road shall be carried out so as to preserve to the highest degree possible its scenic and rural characteristics, compatible with safe road operations.
B. 
Emergency repairs. If a scenic road becomes impassable or unsafe for public travel, emergency repairs may be made to the extent needed to restore the scenic road to its pre-emergency condition.
C. 
Routine maintenance, repairs and alterations. Pursuant to a plan of maintenance submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission, the following types of maintenance and repairs of a scenic road shall be authorized by the Director of Public Services:
[Amended 3-17-2010]
(1) 
Trimming of trees, grass cutting and removal of brush and other material which either encroaches upon the traveled portion of the road or obstructs the sight lines which are required by the provisions of the Town Road Ordinance.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 310, Streets and Sidewalks, Art. VI, Street Construction Standards.
(2) 
Trimming of trees and trimming and removal of shrubs which are necessary for protection of utility wires and poles.
(3) 
Removal of dead or diseased trees, as determined by Town Tree Warden.
(4) 
Correction of road drainage problems and maintenance of existing drainage structures.
(5) 
Repaving or repair of existing road surfaces, including repair of curbing, shoulders and guardrails.
D. 
Other alterations. Except for the types of work described in the preceding subsection, any alterations or improvements to a scenic road shall require the approval of the Board of Selectmen. Upon receipt of an application to make alterations or improvements, the Board of Selectmen shall forward said application to the Planning and Zoning Commission for review and comment prior to scheduling a public hearing concerning the application. Notice of the public hearing shall be given in the same manner as set forth in § 292-4. The Board of Selectmen shall grant such approval if it finds that the work is required in the interest of public safety and the work shall be performed so as to maintain or enhance the road's scenic character.
[Amended 3-17-2010]
A. 
The following shall be prohibited within the right-of-way of a scenic road: brush piles, dirt piles, garbage and trash, except that refuse containers may be placed next to the traveled portion of the road on the day designated for refuse removal by a refuse removal company.
B. 
All signs shall conform to the standards of § 305.01 of the Ridgefield Zoning Regulations.
A. 
No state highway or portion thereof may be designated as a scenic road under the provisions of this chapter.
B. 
No Town road or highway or portion thereof may be designated as a scenic road if it contains any condition which burdens unreasonably the capacity of ambulances, fire trucks, police cars or other emergency vehicles to respond to emergencies or to carry out other duties in the Town.
Violation of this chapter shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $100 per day for each day that the violation continues.
[Amended 3-17-2010]
The applicant shall submit with any application for designation of a scenic road, or portion thereof as a scenic road, and any application for recision of said designation, a filing fee set by the Board of Selectmen to cover costs of public notice.