Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Vernon subdivision plan draws neighbors' opposition

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
August 28, 2006

VERNON - Opponents of a proposed 28-lot subdivision on West Street came out swinging Thursday, accusing town officials of improperly notifying residents about the application and declaring a previously approved subdivision null and void.

Local developer Kenneth J. Boynton is seeking to develop the nearly 30-acre site at 214 West St. into 28 residential lots.

Access to the new housing would be provided by two proposed cul-de-sacs off of West Street, but the town might require Boynton to connect one of the new roads to another newly created road accessing a previously approved 13-lot subdivision off Tracy Drive.

A group of neighbors, who already fought off a 59-unit age-restricted housing development proposed for the site earlier this year, are again opposing development on the site. And one neighbor is arguing that the 13-lot subdivision, approved last fall, is no longer valid.

Presenting photos and several copies of town regulations and memos, Frederick Goff, of 130 Tracy Drive, told the Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday that tree cutting and clearing commenced on that site on July 20.

But, according to Goff, that work commenced before Boynton submitted a required bond and "hold harmless" agreement to the town.

Because this work goes against stipulations attached to the PZC's previous approval, Goff said the subdivision is invalidated.

"Once site preparation has started without the hold harmless agreement and the soil and erosion and control bond, the agreement is dead," Goff said. "The town's interest must be protected despite the obvious pro-developer bias by some town officials."

But Town Planner Neil S. Pade told Goff and the commission that the town's legal counsel has told him that any decision by an administrative agency is final once any applicable appeal period has passed.

Goff's wife, Barbara, told commission members that she is frustrated with the past year's proceedings and has watched the commission contend with "contradictions, cronyism, and possible corruption."

Barbara Goff did not mention any specific allegations of corruption relating to the Boynton application.

"Rules are being bent, if not broken," Barbara Goff said. "Private citizens have to obtain legal counsel at their own expense. There has to be a better way."

The Goffs are plaintiffs in several lawsuits involving Boynton and the town stemming from the developer's proposals, including a dispute over whether a new road can be built on a right-of-way in the couple's side yard. That road would provide access to the 13 lots already approved.

But that road could be turned into a through street connecting West Street and Tracy Drive, if the PZC decides to ask Boynton to eliminate at least one of the cul-de-sacs in his proposal.

Kathleen Murphy of 104 Kenneth Drive said she thought the town did not do an adequate job of notifying nearby residents about Boynton's latest application.

Speaking to the difficulty of turning onto West Street, Murphy also talked about adverse traffic impacts to Tracy Drive if the homes were built.

"If I'm one of those people, I would turn around and go down Tracy (Drive) too," Murphy said. "Tracy Drive is not suitable to accommodating 50 cars in the morning."

The PZC is scheduled to continue hearing public testimony on Boynton's proposal at its Sept. 7 meeting.

Town officials plan to send out additional notices to residents who might be affected, should the PZC require Boynton to construct a through street.

©Journal Inquirer 2006