Town of Wilton, CT
Fairfield County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Wilton 7-17-1995. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The scenic and rural roads of the Town of Wilton are irreplaceable resources. The scenic values of some rural roads in Wilton are in danger because of potential alterations to their rights-of-way. Such alterations may have an adverse impact on the quality of Wilton's aesthetic and historical environment, an environment that is of great benefit to residents and visitors alike. It is then the purpose of this ordinance to balance the need to provide convenient and safe public travelways with the need to preserve scenic and rural values. Therefore, be it ordained by the Town of Wilton that, pursuant to the authority granted by Connecticut General Statutes Section 7-149a, the Town of Wilton shall provide for the designation of certain Town roads or portions thereof within its borders as scenic roads.
The authority to designate a road or any portion of a road as a scenic road is hereby delegated to the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Wilton, hereinafter known as the "Selectmen."
A. 
No road or portion thereof shall be designated as a scenic road if the abutting property contains moderate commercial development, if the road itself has intensive vehicular traffic or if it is a state highway.
B. 
Prior to designating a road or portion thereof as a scenic road, the road must be a Town road and the Selectmen must specifically find that at least one of the following criteria is met:
(1) 
The road is unpaved.
(2) 
The road is bordered by mature trees or stone walls.
(3) 
The traveled portion of the road is not more than 20 feet in width.
(4) 
The road offers scenic views.
(5) 
The road blends naturally into the surrounding terrain.
(6) 
The road parallels or crosses over brooks, streams, lakes or ponds.
C. 
No road or portion thereof may be designated as a scenic road by the Selectmen pursuant to this ordinance unless the owners of the majority of lot frontage abutting the road or portion thereof agree to the designation of the road as a scenic road by filing a written statement of approval with the Board of Selectmen and the Wilton Town Clerk.
D. 
If only a portion of a road is proposed for scenic road designation, the minimum length shall be 1/2 mile. The portion of street shall be defined on a map clearly identifying the beginning and end of the portion.
E. 
Prior to making any scenic road designation, the Selectmen shall consult with the Wilton Conservation Commission, Planning and Zoning Commission, Fire Department, Police Department, Public Works Department and Ambulance Corps regarding the road or portion of road proposed for such designation.
F. 
Prior to making any scenic road designation, the Selectmen shall first find and state for the record that the road currently exists in a safe and passable condition.
The Selectmen, on their own initiative or upon receipt of an application by residents, may consider a road or portion thereof for scenic road designation.
A. 
Application. Property owners shall submit an application to the Board of Selectmen and the Town Clerk calling for scenic road designation. In the case where the Selectmen initiate a proposed designation, they shall be responsible for completing the application and submitting it to the Town Clerk. The application form, available at the First Selectman's office, shall contain the following information:
(1) 
The name of the road proposed to be designated as a scenic road or a description of a portion of a road proposed to be designated, together with a statement of the total length of said road or portion thereof.
(2) 
A description of those characteristics of the road or portion thereof which qualify it for scenic road status, including, but not limited to, those characteristics set forth in §§ 25E-3A and B of this ordinance.
(3) 
A written statement of approval signed by the owners or their duly authorized representative of a majority of lot frontage abutting the road or portion thereof, stating that they approve of designating the road or portion of road as a scenic road.
(4) 
The names and addresses of all owners of lot frontage abutting the road or portion thereof and the length of their frontage along the road.
B. 
Filing. The application shall be filed with the Town Clerk and the Board of Selectmen by the applicant. The office of the Selectmen shall forward a copy to each the Conservation Commission, Planning and Zoning Commission, Fire Department, Police Department, Public Works Department and Ambulance Corps. Additionally, a copy shall be forwarded by the office of the Selectmen to the Assessor's office, which shall verify the ownership and the total frontage of those signing the application; verify that said total frontage constitutes a majority of frontage abutting the road or portion thereof proposed to be designated a scenic road; and shall submit such verification to the Selectmen within 10 business days from the date the Assessor received the application from the Selectmen. Upon receipt of the complete application by the Board of Selectmen, there shall be no alteration, change or improvement made to the road in question until the final decision on the designation is made, except in response to an emergency.
C. 
Review. The Conservation and Planning and Zoning Commissions, Fire Department, Police Department, Public Works Department and Ambulance Corps shall review the application and send recommendations to the Selectmen within 35 days of receipt. The Selectmen shall then schedule a public hearing within 30 days after their next regularly scheduled meeting.
D. 
Hearing. The Selectmen shall hold a public hearing regarding the designation of the road or portion thereof as a scenic road. Notice of the public hearing shall be published in a newspaper having general circulation in Wilton at least twice, at intervals of not less than two days, the first not more than 21 days, nor less than 15 days before the hearing, and the last not less than two days before the hearing. A copy of the hearing notice shall be mailed to the owners of lots fronting the road or portion of the road proposed to be designated as scenic. This notice shall be sent not more than 21 days and not less than 15 days before the hearing. Additionally, a sign stating the purpose, date, time and place of the hearing shall be placed at the entrance to a dead-end road or at either end of a through road or portion of a through road. Said sign shall be erected and maintained by the Conservation Commission. The sign(s) shall be erected not more than 21 days and not less than 15 days before the hearing. The sign(s) shall measure two feet by three feet.
E. 
Decision.
(1) 
The Selectmen shall act upon the application within a period of 30 days from the close of the hearing. The Selectmen shall consider the advice of the Town departments and commissions and the evidence presented at the public hearing in reaching their decision.
(2) 
The grounds for designation or nondesignation shall be stated in the record of the Selectmen and shall include, in as much detail as possible, the special features which make the road so designated or the reasons for denying designation.
(3) 
Notice of the decision of the Selectmen shall be published in a newspaper having a general circulation in the Town of Wilton and mailed to the owners of lots fronting on the road in question within 15 days of such decision. Such notice shall state that the road or portion thereof was or was not designated as a scenic road by the Selectmen, together with the date of such action.
The designation of a road or portion thereof as a scenic road may be rescinded by the Selectmen using the following procedures.
A. 
Residents shall submit an application for rescission of the scenic road designation to the Selectmen and Town Clerk. In the case where the Selectmen initiate a rescission, the Selectmen shall complete the application and submit it to the Town Clerk. The application shall include the following information.
(1) 
The name of the road proposed to be rescinded as a scenic road or a description of a portion of a road proposed to be rescinded, together with a statement of the total length of said road or portion thereof.
(2) 
The reason(s) the rescission is requested.
(3) 
A written statement of approval signed by the owners or their duly authorized representative of a majority of lot frontage abutting the road or portion thereof stating that they approve of rescinding the road or portion of road as a scenic road.
(4) 
The names and addresses of all owners of lot frontage abutting the road or portion thereof and the length of their frontage along the road.
B. 
Filing. The application shall be filed with the Town Clerk and the Board of Selectmen by the applicant. The office of the Selectmen shall forward a copy to each the Conservation and Planning and Zoning Commissions, Fire Department, Police Department, Public Works Department and Ambulance Corps. Additionally, a copy shall be forwarded by the office of the Selectmen to the Assessor's office, which shall verify the ownership and the total frontage of those signing the application; verify that said total frontage constitutes a majority of frontage abutting the road or portion thereof proposed to be rescinded as a scenic road; and shall submit such verification to the Selectmen within 10 business days from the date the Assessor received the application from the Selectmen.
C. 
Review. The Conservation and Planning and Zoning Commissions, Fire Department, Police Department, Public Works Department and Ambulance Corps shall review the application and send recommendations to the Selectmen within 35 days of receipt. The Selectmen shall then schedule a public hearing within 30 days after their next regularly scheduled meeting.
D. 
Hearing. The Selectmen shall hold a public hearing regarding the rescission of the road or portion thereof as a scenic road. Notice of the public hearing shall be published in a newspaper having general circulation in Wilton at least twice, at intervals of not less than two days, the first not more than 21 days, nor less than 15 days before the hearing, and the last not less than two days before the hearing. A copy of the hearing notice shall be mailed to the owners of lots fronting the road or portion of the road proposed to be rescinded as scenic. Additionally, a sign stating the purpose, date, time and place of the hearing shall be placed at the entrance to a dead-end road or at either end of a through road or portion of a through road. Said sign shall be erected and maintained by the Conservation Commission. The sign(s) shall be erected not more than 21 days and not less than 15 days before the hearing. The sign(s) shall measure two feet by three feet.
E. 
Decision.
(1) 
The Selectmen shall act upon the application within a period of 30 days from the close of the hearing. The Selectmen shall consider the advice of the Town departments and the evidence presented at the public hearing in reaching their decision.
(2) 
The grounds for rescission or nonrescission shall be stated in the record of the Selectmen and shall include, in as much detail as possible, the reasons for rescinding the designation or for denying rescission.
(3) 
Notice of the decision of the Selectmen shall be published in a newspaper having a general circulation in the Town of Wilton and mailed to the owners of lots fronting on the road in question within 15 days of such decision. Such notice shall state that the road or portion thereof was or was not rescinded as a scenic road by the Selectmen, together with the date of such action.
A. 
Preservation objective. Maintenance and the regulation of future alteration and improvements of designated scenic roads or portions thereof shall be carried out so as to preserve to the highest degree possible the aesthetic, historic and/or rural characteristics of the roads or portions thereof which are indicated in the records of the Selectmen as the basis for the designation, keeping in mind public health and safety.
B. 
Road maintenance.
(1) 
Such maintenance is as of right and shall be limited to trimming of the tree branches that encroach on the traveled portion of the road below the height needed to allow school buses and emergency vehicles to pass; trimming or removal of brush and removal of boulders or other obstacles that encroach on the traveled portion of the road; necessary trimming for utility lines; trimming of brush to enhance and protect scenic views, stone wall, mature trees and other characteristics of the scenic road; correction of drainage problems and retreatment and repair of existing roadway surfaces.
(2) 
Such maintenance shall not include widening of the traveled portion of the road; paving of dirt or gravel roads or portions of roads except for safety reasons at intersections with paved roadways; changes of grade; straightening; removal of stone walls or removal of mature trees.
C. 
Natural disasters or emergencies. In the case of a natural disaster or emergency in which a road or portion thereof becomes impassable or unsafe for public travel and access must be provided, emergency repairs may be made as needed and as of right, to restore the road or portion of road to a safe and, as practical, its preemergency condition.
D. 
Alterations and improvements requiring approval; procedure. When contemplating alterations to a scenic road for safety considerations, the following procedures shall be followed:
(1) 
An application for alteration or improvement of a designated scenic road, whether by public or private applicant, shall be submitted to the Selectmen, along with a suitable map showing in detail the proposed alteration or improvement. The Selectmen shall forward copies to the Conservation Commission, Planning and Zoning Commissions, Fire Department, Police Department, Public Works Department and Ambulance Corps. The Commissions shall review the application and send recommendations within 35 days of their next regular meeting.
(2) 
At their next regularly scheduled meeting the Selectmen shall review the proposal and the recommendations from the Conservation and Planning and Zoning Commissions, Fire Department, Police Department, Public Works Department and Ambulance Corps. If they deem necessary, the Selectmen may require engineering or other technical reports documenting the need for the alteration and offering feasible and prudent alternatives.
(3) 
Once the application is complete, the Selectmen may hold a public hearing if they deem it is in the public's interest to do so. The final decision shall be made within 60 days from the close of the hearing. If a hearing is deemed appropriate, then the procedures outlined in § 25E-4D shall apply.
E. 
Standards for alteration.
(1) 
No alterations or improvements to scenic roads or portions thereof (other than maintenance, described in § 25E-6B above) shall be made unless the Selectmen determine that such alterations are necessary to maintain the road in good and sufficient repair and in safe, passable condition. The Selectmen shall not grant an application to improve or alter a scenic road or portion thereof to accommodate a proposed subdivision or other development of land to which the scenic road would provide access unless the Selectmen determine that such alteration will not have a material adverse effect on the scenic characteristics of the road which formed the basis for its original designation. Notwithstanding the foregoing sentence, the Selectmen may grant an application to improve or alter a scenic road or portion thereof to accommodate a proposed subdivision or other development of land if they find the development would generate sufficient traffic to render passage unsafe.
(2) 
In determining whether to allow proposed improvements or alterations, the Selectmen shall weigh the specific safety features of the proposed changes against the overall impact of the proposed change on the scenic road and the public response to the proposed change. Any decision by the Selectmen to allow alterations or improvements to a scenic road shall seek to preserve the scenic characteristics without compromising public safety. Alterations or improvements to a scenic road shall conform to the following requirements:
(a) 
Speed limits. Scenic values are best realized with lower speeds. The speed limit established by the Town for each scenic road shall be clearly posted.
(b) 
Curves. Scenic values are correlated with the existence of curves, which allow a constant unfolding of new and changing views. Curves shall not be eliminated until they are found to be a hazard within the concept of the specific road.
(c) 
Grades. Hills and valleys are associated with scenic values. They shall not be destroyed by cuts and fills unless essential for road safety.
(d) 
Widths. A narrow road is correlated with scenic beauty. Designated scenic roads should not be widened unless the amount of traffic, as determined by a factual study, demands it. For some rural roads, the amount of traffic that can be handled can be greatly increased by wide bypasses and turnouts, constructed at intervals where they do least damage to scenic values; such bypasses and turnouts shall be implemented whenever possible.
(e) 
Side slopes. Existing steepness of side slopes is preferable to reduction of gradient by extensive removal of soil and rock. This is true where the slope is fully stabilized and where ground cover, shrubs and trees exist.
(f) 
Vistas. Vistas of distant landscapes shall be preserved by suitable vegetation management techniques.
(g) 
Utility lines. Wherever possible, utility lines shall be underground. Where such lines are overhead, the utility corporations shall cooperate by utilizing suitable vegetation management techniques which preserve the wildflowers and shrubs.
(h) 
Vegetation. Vegetation on the side of the road shall be managed in such a way as to preserve wildflowers, shrubs of aesthetic and wildlife value and trees.
(i) 
Stone walls. If stone walls or portions thereof must be removed, they shall be rebuilt along the untraveled portion of the scenic road.
(j) 
Nonscenic activities and structures shall be forbidden, such as sand, gravel and salt piles and other unsightly situations. Where possible, scenic and preservation easements should be acquired from adjacent owners to ensure the continuance of natural relief and historic values in the public interest.
F. 
Rights of landowners. Nothing in this ordinance shall be deemed to prohibit a person owning or occupying land abutting the road right-of-way or portion thereof designated as a scenic road from:
(1) 
Maintaining, repairing or improving the land which abuts the right-of-way of the road or portion thereof.
(2) 
Having access to his property by driveway or subdivision road by encroachment within the right-of-way, provided that such encroachment is constructed so as to safeguard the road's scenic features as recorded by the Board of Selectmen.
(3) 
Subdividing or developing his property as otherwise permitted by applicable land use statutes and regulations.
(4) 
A scenic road designation shall not be a basis for a denial of any land use application.
A. 
This ordinance shall be enforced by the Board of Selectmen or through their designated enforcement officials.
B. 
Violations of the ordinance shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $10 per day per violation for each day the violation(s) continue(s) and to such other legal remedies as may be available to the Board of Selectmen.
A fee may be established by the Board of Selectmen to cover the administrative costs of the application.