TOWN OF COLUMBIA
PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION
Monday, August 23 2010-7:30 P.M.
Adella G. Urban Administrative Offices Conference Room
323 Route 87, Columbia, CT
REGULAR MEETING MINUTES AND MOTIONS
Members Present: Chairman Nobby Blain; Vice-Chair Rick Nassiff; Secretary Keith Herzig;
E. Jay Starkel; Donald Schofield; Rich Williams; Vera Englert (Alternate)
Members excused: Ted Melinosky; Tom Currier (Alternate)
Staff Present: Town Planner Jana Butts; Board Clerk Linda McDonald
Others Present: Gerald Hardisty, P.E.; Christopher Ramm; Ann Dunnack; Joan Hill; Andrea
Stannard; Justin Holbrook; Sue Kancler; John M. Leahy; Greg Glaude; Judy Senkbeil; Margaret
Verizzi; Scott Keegan; Steven Wolslegel; First Selectman Carmen Vance
1. CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Blain called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
2. ROLL CALL AND SEATING OF ALTERNATES: V. Englert was seated for T.
3. ADDITIONS/CHANGES TO AGENDA: Chairman Blain asked to move discussion of
correspondence from Killingly Engineering Associates (KEA) from Communications and
Reports (Item 9) to item 5.1 on the agenda.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF JULY 26, 2010 AND AUGUST 9, 2010: K. Herzig
MOVED to APPROVE the minutes of July 26, 2010 as presented. R. Nassiff
SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED 4:0:2 with N. Blain and E. J. Starkel abstaining. K.
Herzig MOVED to APPROVE the minutes of August 9, 2010 as presented. E. J. Starkel
SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED 6:0:0.
5. AUDIENCE OF CITIZENS: None
5.1 Correspondence from KEA regarding a proposed indoor riding arena at 46 Macht
Road: After a brief discussion, K. Herzig MOVED to APPROVE the request of Greg A.
Glaude for a one year extension of the Special Exception application approval to
September 23, 2011 to construct an indoor riding arena at 46 Macht Road, Columbia, CT.
Property owner is Craig Gates. E.J. Starkel SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED 6:0:0.
SUSPEND REGULAR MEETING: Chairman Blain suspended the regular meeting at 7:36
CONTINUE PUBLIC HEARING: Application of Christopher Ramm for a nine lot
subdivision located on Wells Wood Road, Assessor’s Maps #38-4 and 38-5.
J. Butts reported what was observed on the August 16 site walk through photos she took during
the walk and handed out to the Commissioners. She identified two areas that could be considered
minor potholes along Wells Wood Road near #21 Wells Wood and another closer to Lake Ridge
J. Butts reported on missing documents for the application to be considered complete.
J. Butts commented on her concerns for the Root family homestead cellar hole located on lot 9
and stated that it should not be depicted on the subdivision plans as it is not part of the
subdivision. She commented that access to the cemetery should be considered by the
Commission. The Commission has the opportunity to address and protect the historic resources.
J. Butts suggested possible ways to preserve access to the cemetery through a public right-of-way
(access easement) or through re-drafting of the lot lines. She suggested that the Root family
homestead cellar hole be protected with a private deed restriction forbidding the removal or
displacement of stones.
J. Butts stated that the PZC gets to determine how the open space parcel would be preserved and
suggested that the Commission give thought to what they consider to be the most important use
of the open space parcel. She stated that if the method of dedication chosen is “fee simple”, the
transfer has to go before the Board of Selectmen for approval. J. Butts is also concerned with
trail planning. There is a large forested block with old trail beds on the open space parcel that she
believes should be preserved. She said this is a link in a larger open space/trail system.
J. Butts reported that Thomas Fenton, the engineer from Nathan Jacobson and Associates
contracted by the Town to review the site plan for this application, has set up a meeting with
Public Works Director George Murphy.
J. Butts agrees with the proposal of the Open Space Committee to modify the lot boundary
between lot 4, 5 and 8 by moving the boundary line back to protect the slope.
Chris Tolsdorf , Chairman of the Open Space Committee, of 104 Hunt Road read a letter from the
Columbia Open Space Committee dated August 19, 2010 outlining the Committee’s report and
recommendations. R. Nassiff asked C. Tolsdorf what should be done with the Root family
homestead cellar hole.
Andrea Stannard of 97 Pine Street read correspondence from the Columbia Historical Society
Committee for Cultural Conservation at Wells Wood dated August 18, 2010 recommending the
conservation and preservation of the Root family cellar site and cemetery as well as public access
to the sites for educational purposes and entered the document into the record.
Joan Hill of 23 Cards Mill Road stated that, if the Root family homestead cellar hole remains on a
private lot, a nylon fence could be constructed around the hole to protect the family. She said, if
the cellar hole has public access, there would have to be a way to walk around the site and the
perimeter should also be fenced.
N. Blain asked who would take ownership of the open space parcel. J. Butts said the simplest
method to protect open space land through subdivision is to maintain private ownership, but
restrict development. She said if enforcement is the concern, the ownership of the open space
parcel could be transferred in fee to a conservation organization. J. Butts stated that the
Conservation Commission is required to produce a yearly report on status of the open space
Judy Senkbeil of 84 West Street said that the Columbia Conservation Commission (CCC) was
told that only Town employees could do the observations of the conservation easements. She
recommends that deer hunting should be allowed on the large parcel of open space allocated with
this application as larger parcels are slowly disappearing and the deer population is growing.
First Selectman Carmen Vance stated that she has requested that the Columbia Conservation and
Agricultural Commission take back the responsibility of checking on the conservation easements.
J. Hill suggested that a conservation organization to do the inspections and enforcement of the
E .J. Starkel commented that he would not wish to put the burden of monitoring the open space
parcel on the owner, but on an organization.
G. Hardisty from CES Engineering, representing the applicant, knows that the Root family
homestead cellar hole is of concern and has made changes on the drawings which are not yet part
of the site plan. He has made modification to the lot lines. G. Hardisty suggested deeding a 60
foot radius encompassing the cellar hole to the Town, thus requiring the Town to decide what is
more important, a turn- around area or preservation of the cellar hole. He also suggested that a
hammerhead turn-around could be used to back up emergency equipment which would enable the
preservation of the Root family homestead cellar hole. J. Butts said the Town does have a review
engineer who can look at these suggestions and options.
C. Vance asked why driveways could not be used for an emergency area.
C. Ramm asked where is the turn-around area for the houses that are south of the proposed
subdivision. N. Blain said the Commission was asked to look into an appropriate turn- around
area. R. Nassiff said the issues under discussion during this public hearing are being addressed
according to current standards in the Zoning Regulations.
John Leahy of 32 Wildwood Drive described a situation at the end of Wildwood Drive as an
example of emergency in the past with no problem accommodating emergency vehicles.
G. Hardisty said the numbers on the lots on the drawings on display are incorrect due to a
computer generated problem in numbering. He has revised the property line on lot 5 moving it
further up the hill by 80 feet on average. G. Hardisty would like feedback on how to handle the
area around the Root family homestead foundation. He stated that he has done nothing with the
cemetery since it is on private property.
J. Hill has done research on cemeteries. She stated that, according to Connecticut General
Statutes Section 19a-308a, the title for a cemetery abandoned for over 40 years (no burial has
occurred) and in which the lots or graves have not been maintained during the previous ten years
may vest in the Town after appropriate steps are taken which are outlined in the statute. She is
researching descendents of the Root family that may be interested in maintaining the burial
C. Tolsdorf said that any Open Space Committee discussion regarding the Root family burial
ground should be with the party who will hold the easement.
Chris Ramm wants to know who to speak with in the Town about negotiating the easement. J.
Butts said the conversation can start with her, but this discussion is premature. The Commission
has to make the decision of proper dedication of the easement.
C. Ramm asked if the PZC will consider the dedication of the open space in their decision. N.
Blain said everything is inclusive. J. Butts read from Chapter 9 of the Columbia Subdivision
Regulations (Open Spaces and Recreation Areas). She said there are many options for the PZC to
consider. C. Ramm asked if the Commission could require the owner to hand over the open
space parcel to the Town. N. Blain said the Commission would work to find a decision that
would be suitable to the owner. D. Schofield said the applicant should look at the options
outlined in the Zoning Regulations and determine what is the most agreeable. J. Butts said the
Commission can only make a requirement on the amount of open space allocated for dedication
in the Zoning Regulations, which is 15% of each subdivision of land over 10 acres. K. Herzig
said the Commission has worked with the applicants in the past.
G. Hardisty commented that he is frustrated with this application process regarding the public and
Commission comments regarding the open space parcel. He wants to know who he can talk to
before he comes before the Commission regarding the open space parcel.
C. Ramm said he has heard from these proceedings that it is his responsibility to work with First
Selectman C. Vance, J. Butts and the Open Space Committee before presenting his open space
plan to the Commission.
C. Ramm said he knows what he wants to do with the open space parcel and will bring a proposal
to the Commission at the next meeting. He stated that he would like to give a summary after G.
G. Hardisty said the drawing he presented was for discussion of how to handle the cul-de-sac
issue. He is looking for feedback. He said the proposed subdivision as a whole is a simple
subdivision: no new road, no hydraulic study required; no impact on wetlands and no drainage
issues. G. Hardisty said he is confused by the copy of the “Ordinance for a New Schedule of
Zoning Fees” sent to him today by the Town Planner. He wants to know why the applicant is
being charged $2,100.00 for the service of an outside consultant hired to review the site plans for
G. Hardisty stated, for the record, said he was only handed the pieces needed for the application
completeness by the Town Planner today at the meeting. He would like to know why he wasn’t
provided this information earlier in the application process.
D. Schofield said several issues need addressing. He made a suggestion of a parking lot at the
cemetery to accommodate access and to be possibly used as an emergency vehicle turn-around
C. Ramm summarized what he has heard at the previous meeting; specifically the concern for
Root family homestead cellar hole and the preservation of artifacts, the Root family burial
ground, and stone walls. He and G. Hardisty have tried to address these issues over the past two
weeks since the last PZC meeting. They made a change to the site plan by moving back the rear
boundary line pushing too close to the wetlands which makes the proposed building lot smaller.
This change would increase the open space parcel to 36 acres and lessen the value of selling the
lots. C. Ramm said the stone walls along the road are deeded to the town and will be preserved.
He wants to preserve the Root Family homestead cellar hole by deeding it to the Town. He said
the cul-de-sac is not required but he is trying to preserve the cellar hole history and donate the
chunk to the Columbia Historical Society and still give space for a turn-around area.
C. Ramm stated that he wants private access to the open space parcel and want to own the access
strip by title and not by easement. He would like a 20 foot wide piece to gain access to the open
N. Blain said the rear lot lines did not need to be moved. He said the open space committee had
only asked for a buffer around the pond so the lot size would not need to be reduced. He
suggested the applicant make the changes that work best for him.
C. Ramm asked if the Root family homestead cellar hole needs to be donated to the Historical
Society. J. Holebrook asked would applicant lose his 200 foot frontage requirement if he donated
the cellar hole. He asked if the turning radius is necessary.
C. Vance made a suggestion to square off the corner of land containing the cellar hole and take it
out of the cul-de-sac equation.
R. Nassiff suggested squaring off the cellar hole immediately adjacent to the cul-de-sac. He
commented that deeded access to the Root family burial ground would be an imposition to the lot
owner. He said the cemetery access needs to be addressed. One possibility is to have the
cemetery owned by the town with a right of way.
R. Nassiff has a concern as to whether the Commission can legally consider this subdivision on a
cul-de-sac as the Zoning Regulations stipulate a 15 lot maximum. He would like the applicant’s
perspective as to why he considers this subdivision not to be covered by the lot maximum Zoning
Regulation. Speaking for himself, R. Nassiff questioned if the Commission really wishes to
preserve the cellar hole? He asked if the owner wishes to retain ownership and title to the open
space. C. Ramm responded that he wishes it to remain private property. R. Nassiff commented
having the applicant address the washout area on Wells Wood Road would be well received by
the public. D. Schofield disagreed saying that is the Town’s responsibility to address the washout
G. Hardisty said the pothole area of concern on Wells Wood Road is adjacent to the common
driveway on lots 2 and 3 and can be easily addressed when installing the driveway apron.
Ann Dunnack of 103 Lake Road said the Chris and David Ramm have given a huge piece of open
space in this application. R. Nassiff said this open space land is undevelopable.
J. Senkbeil said repairing the pothole on Wells Wood Road should not divert the water into the
wetlands. She recommended that the Town own the open space parcel by means of a conservation
J. Butts addressed the liability of the Root family homestead cellar hole. She said the cellar hole
is quite shallow. She recommends that the cellar hole not be on a private lot.
J. Leahy said, if the cul-de-sac is put in where proposed, the number of residences in Island
Woods and on Lake Ridge Drive (103) already far exceeds the 15 lot maximum stated in the
Zoning Regulations. C. Vance said PZC has statues separate from the Town statutes. J. Leahy
referred to correspondence and exhibits he sent to the Commission stating that, at a 1928 Town
Meeting, records show that the Town voted “to discontinue and close to public travel the section
of road leading from the Ralph Root place, so-called, south and southwest to the residence of
John Kowalski”, i.e. Wells Wood Road. J. Leahy said Wells Wood Road can never been
extended to the south and the Town has no title to extend the road. N. Blain made notice of the
correspondence from Mr. Leahy. K. Herzig said that Mr. Leahy’s letter will be made part of the
E. J. Starkel left the meeting at 9:38 p.m.
J. Leahy of 32 Wildwood Drive is concerned with the water level in Mono Pond and is concerned
that part of the land in the subdivision flows into the pond.
N. Blain asked the applicant to consider addressing these public comments.
N. Blain stated that the Public Hearing of Christopher Ramm for a nine lot subdivision located on
Wellswood Road, Assessor’s Maps #38-4 and 38-5 would be continued to September 13, 2010 at
7:30 p.m. in the Adella G. Urban Administrative Offices Conference Room, 323 Route 87,
RECONVENE REGULAR MEETING: Chairman Blain reconvened the regular meeting at
9:41 p.m. A short recess was called. The meeting resumed at 9:52 p.m.
6. OLD BUSINESS:
6.1 Application of Christopher Ramm for a nine lot subdivision located on Wellswood
Road, Assessor’s Maps #38-4 and 38-5. Property owner is David Ramm: The public
hearing for this application has been continued to September 13, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. in the
Adella G. Urban Administrative Offices Conference Room, 323 Route 87, Columbia, CT.
N. Blain wants to re-affirm the comments of the Town Attorney Ken Slater of Halloran &
Sage LLP in his letter to Town Planner Jana Butts dated August 6, 2010 regarding the
applicability of cul-de-sacs regulations on Wells Wood Road. D. Schofield said it seems
the Ramm family wants ownership of the open space parcel. Discussion followed on
generalities of deciding how open space is dedicated.
R. Nassiff said he has a problem with the quality of the opinion of the Town Attorney
regarding his interpretation of the cul-de-sac regulations. K. Herzig agrees with R.
Nassiff and commented on the work Mr. Leahy put into his research. J. Butts will send
Mr. Leahy’s letter to the Town Attorney for review. J. Butts has discussed with the
Town Attorney that Wells Wood Road was probably discontinued. R. Nassiff said the
Town Attorney did not support his cul-de-sac decision with any depth. Discussion
followed on interpretation of the attorney’s decision and if the extension of Wells Wood
Road is ”probable”.
N. Blain said he hopes the applicant will come up with ideas to bring to the Commission.
He would like Fire Chief Peter Starkel to weigh in on the cul-de-sac issue, specifically if
the cul-de-sac has to be there. J. Butts commented that Peter Starkel and Public Works
Director George Murphy might not be willing to demand the turn-around area. N. Blain
said this might be an opportunity to open dialogue regarding sharing the cost of widening
and fixing Wells Wood Road in the area of the proposed subdivision.
J. Butts will send G. Murphy and Thomas Fenton, the engineer from Nathan Jacobson
and Associates, copies of Chapter 6 of the Subdivision Regulations (Street, Highway, and
Other Public Improvement Standards).
Discussion followed on Section 12.5 (Waiver) of the Subdivision Regulations. In
question was whether the Commission has the authority to reduce the lot frontage
proposed by the applicant. The regulation gives the Commission authority to do so
pending conditions. The lot frontage requirement could be waived by approval by ¾ vote
of the Commission.
J. Butts said it is the Commission’s decision to decide whether there should be public
access to the open space parcel.
6.2 Discussion of potential Regulations Amendments: None
6.3 Ongoing Update of Route 6 Corridor Economic Development Council: J. Butts
reported on a conceptual plan of the Route 6 and 66 node presented by the transportation
consultants hired by the Route 6 Corridor Economic Development Council. The Council
voted to accept the master plan presented by the Council. She said acceptance of the
master plan means that the Council supports the vision of the future development of the
Route 6 Corridor. The Council recognizes that the ultimate plan for the economic
development of the Route 6 corridor lies with the municipal boards of the four towns
along Route 6. J. Butts said that the Federal and State governments have mandates
prescribing how transportation monies are to be spent. She said the Route 6 Corridor
Economic Development Council knows there are floodplain areas in the area of the Route
6 and 66 intersection node.
7. NEW BUSINESS: None
8. AUDIENCE OF CITIZENS: None
9. COMMUNICATIONS AND REPORTS: N. Blain asked the members to review the
Zoning Enforcement Officer’s submitted report on their own.
10. COMMISSION OPEN DISCUSSION: Discussion followed regarding a request from a
mortgage company who wants the Town to sign a quit claim deed for property at 17 Lake
Road. The issue of whether the Town took ownership of the property by not creating a
berm within a specific time period dates back more than 25 years. Through research, it
was determined that the Town does not have title to the property.
11. ADJOURNMENT: D. Schofield MOVED to ADJOURN the meeting at 10:43 p.m. R.
Nassiff SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED 6:0:0.
The next regular meeting is scheduled for September 13, 2010
Respectfully submitted by Linda H. McDonald