Shelton Conservation Commission opposes sale of Long Hill Avenue parcel
SHELTON — The Conservation Commission objects to the proposed sale of a city-owned strip of land on Long Hill Avenue.
The commission, in a remote meeting earlier this week, voted unanimously to send a letter to the Board of Aldermen objecting to the sale of the 50-foot by 400-foot property to its former owners, the Tall family. The decision comes days after the Planning and Zoning Commission gave their support for the sale.
Before authorizing the sale, the Board of Aldermen also needs to receive comments from the Parks and Recreation Commission.
“The piece in question is a 50-foot by 400-foot piece that was part of a proposed sale to a developer that never happened,” said Tom Tall, in an email to the Planning and Zoning Commission about the land, which was part of his family’s farm from 1933.
“I am only requesting to buy back this ... piece that now divides my property in half,” added Tall.
Tall said the strip of land, listed as 0 Long Hill Ave., was part of his family’s sale of some 29 acres to the city for open space. The strip in question is the connection from Long Hill Avenue to a larger piece of city land not for sale.
“The city has no use for the property, and it is now a vacant piece of property,” stated city Administrative Assistant Jack Bashar in a letter to the commission dated April 28. Bashar added that, with the sale, “the property will then be added back to the city’s tax rolls.”
Conservation Commission Chair Tom Harbinson recounted how his commission made a “passionate presentation to the Board of Aldermen in 2004 for the purchase and preservation of the property. One of Shelton’s community gardens is nearby.
“There are good agricultural soils and the connectivity with other open space properties was important. The property links the Far Mill River Greenway to the Housatonic Greenway,” said Harbinson.
Commissioner Jim Tate asked what changed to make the property less desirable to the city. Harbinson said the adjoining property owners are asking to purchase the open space accessway.
Tate stated that it has been the commission’s policy not to sell open space.
“There are certainly many other property owners who would like to purchase the open space near their homes. We don’t do that,” said Tate.
Harbinson said one fear was that the accessway could be combined with the abutting properties and then subdivided for additional building lots.
One option would have been to sell the accessway with a conservation restriction on it, said Harbinson. However, a conservation restriction was placed on the Klapick Farm property across the street that the city ignored and allowed the property to be subdivided. A new home is now being built there, he pointed out.
Harbinson referenced legal arguments the city made when the prior owners filed a suit after the city seized the land by eminent domain for open space, including the connectivity between open space to the west and the Housatonic River to the east.
“I am not looking to buy back 29 acres,” said Tall. “This piece is not useful as a right of way or for building as it goes through wetlands. It would also have to cross the Iroqouis gas line.”
Tall said the 29-acre land owned by the city has access from Stowe Drive and can be gotten to along the full length of Old Coram Road on the back side, which connects to Murphy’s Lane on one end and Rocky Rest Road on the other side.