Quick vote on changes at town meeting
SHARON — Changes to several ordinances were quickly approved at a town meeting Jan. 6. Selectman John Perotti moderated the meeting, which brought about 20 people to Town Hall for what ended up being a 10-minute session.Discussion on all three agenda items consisted only of explanations from town officials.An amendment to an ordinance regarding the Open Space and Land Acquisition Fund clarifies the use of that money. The town previously adopted open space regulations as allowed by state statute. Developers either donated a portion of a property to be preserved as open space, or paid a fee in lieu of the land donation.“The fund was established with money from developers who put in subdivisions,” First Selectman Robert Loucks explained. “They had the option of donating open space within the development, or donating to the fund.”The amendment clarifies that the funds may be used to protect, maintain and preserve properties acquired with the open space fund, or that had been previously purchased for open space, passive recreational use or agricultural purposes.The vote to approve was unanimous.Changes to building permit fees and fines for violations were also unanimously approved.The basic building fee remains $25 for the first $1,000 in construction value. The amendment calls for $7 to be charged for each additional $1,000 in value.Building official Stanley MacMillan said a number of area towns charge permit fees that begin at $500.Property owners or contractors who begin work on a project before a permit is issued will be fined $200.It was noted that a year after these changes take effect, the power to revise the fees falls to the Board of Selectmen.An ordinance regarding citation procedures was changed to allow the town to pursue fining violators in 22 distinct regulations and ordinances, as allowed under state statute. The amendment to each reads, “Any fine levied shall be subject to the citation hearing procedure adopted pursuant to Section 7-152c of the Connecticut General Statutes.”The affected ordinances include violations of the Inland Wetlands, Planning and Zoning and Historic District regulations. The remainder of the list covers a wide range of regulated uses. It includes trailers and trailer camps, permits for work on town highways, motor boats on Mudge Pond, violation of the sewer ordinance and state building code, special events, hawkers and peddlers, horseback riding and congregating on Sharon Green, posting of house/building numbers, all-terrain vehicles, town recreation fields, metal detecting/excavating on town property, helicopters, recycling, food service establishments, nuclear free zone, scenic highways and driveways.The driveway ordinance amendment includes added wording that gives property owners “aggrieved by a decision of the Board of Selectmen” 15 days from that decision to request a hearing, The changes were adopted in a group, with one dissenting vote.