Many people confuse the following groups, described below:
- Conservation Commission
- Open Space Committee
- Land Conservation Trust
- Shelton Trails Committee
- Inland Wetlands Commission
- Parks & Recreation Commission
The Conservation Commission is an advisory group only, with responsibility for Shelton Public Open Spaces and the trails on them. There are seven unpaid members who are appointed by the mayor for three-year terms. No more than four members may be from the same political party. The Commission has several tasks and issues which keeps its members busy:
- review subdivision plans and make recommendations to P&Z
- recommend changes in subdivision regulations
- inventory public open space
- make recommendations regarding public open space use
- farmland preservation
- Shelton Lakes open space purchase
- Shelton Lakes Recreation Path
The Commission is assisted by a part-time Conservation Agent, Teresa Gallagher, who can be contacted by phone at 924-1555 x315 or by email at [email protected].
A Conservation Commission bulletin board located in the Community Center contains information regarding some of these issues. The Commission meets at 7:00 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at City Hall room 303. Meetings are open to the public. The official City of Shelton website lists all Conservation Commission Meetings, including all agendas and minutes, as well as all current members of the Commission.
More information about the Conservation Commission can be found at their official website. In addition, Chairman Thomas Harbinson maintains a blog to address media requests for information. Outside of public meetings, Commission members may also discuss or notify each other about various topic via email. These emails are through a Google Group that the public can view (but not post).
This group is often confused with the Conservation Commission. It is an official public committee established by City ordinance to make recommendations regarding open space purchases. An open space trust account was set up in the early 1990’s into which 3/4 of one percent of the annual growth of the Taxable Grand List is appropriated each year. This money can be used only for open space purchases or related expenditures and only upon recommendation by the Committee.
The Open Space Committee prepared the “Shelton Open Space Plan of 1993,” which outlines the City’s strategy regarding open space acquisition in Shelton. Three proposed “greenways” were outlined in the Plan:
- Shelton Lakes Greenway
- Far Mill River/Means Brook Greenway
- Housatonic Valley Greenway
Potential open space purchases are given priority if located within one of the greenbelts. The BHC “Shelton Lakes” surplus land was identified as a key component of the City’s Open Space Plan. If you are particularly interested in this subject, ask for a copy of the plan at the Planning and Zoning office at City Hall.
By ordinance, the Open Space Committee must consist of one member from each of the following groups: The Planning and Zoning Commission, The Parks and Recreation Commission, The Conservation Commission, The Board of Aldermen, The Inland Wetlands Commission. There are two spaces open to general residents of Shelton, which are appointed by the Board of Aldermen.
This is a private not-for-profit group which acquires and preserves land in Shelton. The Land Trust maintains several hundred acres within the City boundaries, including a the 65-acre park known as Nicholdale Farm on Leavenworth Road (Rt. 110). Property is acquired primarily through land donations. The Shelton Land Trust’s goal is the preservation of open space in its many varied states, principally as wildlife preserves, but they invite hikers and nature lovers to enjoy these parcels. Motorized vehicles like ATVs are not allowed.
For more information about the Land Trust or to join, visit their website at www.sheltonlandtrust.org.
The Trails Committee was established in 1997 and reports to the Conservation Commission. The Committee is charged with managing the trails system and organizing volunteers for trail work. Members have a monthly meeting the first Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. and also organize trail work parties and group hikes.
Shelton Trails Committee Members
The Trails Committee gives a status report to the Conservation Commission each month during the Conservation Commission’s monthly meeting. The minutes of these meetings, including the Trails Committee’s report, are available online back to January 2003.
This is an official City Committee formed under the Conservation Commission and currently provides the best opportunity for people to become involved. The Committee meets once each month, usually on the first Wednesday at 5:30 p.m (check the calendar.) Meetings are open to the public and are held in the Planning & Zoning office at City Hall (Room 303).
Wetlands are protected by Federal, State and City regulations. Under State statute, each city in Connecticut is required to enact wetland regulations and to establish a wetlands commission to enforce these regulations. In general, wetlands cannot be filled or otherwise disturbed unless a permit is obtained from the Commission.
Wetlands include swamps, marshes and many poorly drained areas which you might not consider to be a wetland. These areas are defined by soil type, as determined by a licensed soil scientist. In addition, there is a 25-foot “buffer” area which extends from each wetland and 50 feet from each watercourse which is also regulated by the City.
Wetlands are regulated because the loss of wetlands affects downstream property owners and degrades water quality. Floods and droughts become more severe and pronounced. Often, cellars begin to flood after upstream wetlands are filled in. Commercial and recreational fisherman are also impacted. The wetlands issue is therefore really a “people Vs people” issue rather than a “property rights Vs the environment” issue. Low areas can be filled suddenly by developers or gradually, over many years, by homeowners. The net result is the same.
The Shelton Inland Wetlands Commission is supported by a full-time enforcement officer, John Cook, who reviews permit applications and makes recommendations to the Commission. Trail work which involves any kind of construction in or near a wetland must be cleared by the Commission prior to the start of the project. The City of Shelton’s official website lists current members of the Commission and all their meetings, including agendas and minutes.
Existing Shelton Public Open Space areas are now under the perview of the Department of Parks and Rec because the Conservation Commission has no staff to handle various maintenance isssues such as parking areas, gates, and picnic tables — things beyond the scope of volunteers. The main office at the Community Center also hands out copies of trail maps upon request.