Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Tracy Drive man threatens lawsuit over dirt

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
Published: Friday, August 8, 2008 3:14 PM EDT

VERNON — A Tracy Drive man embroiled in a lengthy legal battle over a road being built on his property to access land reserved for a subdivision is threatening a second lawsuit against the town after workers excavated a 35-foot-wide, 9-foot-deep hole to lay sewer and utility lines.

The man, Frederick Goff, wrote to Mayor Jason L. McCoy on Monday to ask that work be halted and says he is considering seeking an injunction to stop all work and restore the 50-foot-wide strip of land to its original condition.

Goff and his wife, Barbara, of 130 Tracy Drive have maintained the strip of land as part of their side yard since the early 1970s. They bought the strip in 2005.

The courts have said the strip is considered a right-of-way that developer Kenneth J. Boynton can use to access 40 acres behind the Goffs’ house to build a 41-lot subdivision between West Street and Tracy Drive, already approved by the town.

“As you well know, the maximum right the town might possess on that property is a right of way over the surface. The town does not own the land, I do,” Goff wrote.

“They may be able to pave on top, but the dirt underneath is mine,” Goff said this week of the latest dispute.

Town Attorney Hal Cummings disagrees.

“The right of way is for all purposes, including laying sewer lines and utilities and all work consistent with a roadway,” Cummings said, adding, “He owns the land subject to the town’s right to use it as a public right of way.”

The decades-long saga came to a head in April when the Appellate Court upheld a lower court’s ruling against Goff and in favor of the town and Boynton that a right of way already had been established.

Goff says he has no plans to surrender, however, and will now seek judgment from the state Supreme Court.

Goff maintains the town never took possession of the strip after the PZC approved the subdivision plans.

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