[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Mansfield 4-10-1995, effective 5-19-1995. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Town of Mansfield Scenic Roads Ordinance."
Pursuant to the provisions of Section 7-149a of the Connecticut General Statutes, the Town of Mansfield shall provide for the designation of town roads ("highways") or portions thereof as scenic roads and shall maintain the scenic nature of highways or portions thereof so designated. To be considered as a scenic road, the highway or portion of the highway to be designated a scenic road shall be free of existing or potential (based on the Mansfield Plan of Development designations for commercial and industrial land uses) intensive commercial development, shall be free of intensive vehicular traffic and shall meet at least one of the following criteria:
It is unpaved.
It is bordered by mature trees or stone walls along a majority of its length.
The traveled portion is no more than twenty (20) feet wide along a majority of its length.
It offers scenic views or vistas such that persons other than residents living on the road routinely walk, drive or ride on this road to experience said views.
It blends naturally into the unique or scenic surrounding terrain, such as ledge outcrops, steep hills, protected forests, wetland areas, etc.
The authority to designate a town road ("highway") or any portion of any town road ("highway") as a scenic road pursuant to Section 7-149a of the Connecticut General Statutes is hereby delegated to the Planning and Zoning Commission of the Town of Mansfield. In addition to the criteria cited in § 155-2, the Planning and Zoning Commission shall consider the nature of vehicular and pedestrian traffic and accident history on the subject road and other roads in the vicinity, the Plan of Development roadway classifications for the subject road and other roads in the vicinity and the overall protection of the public's health and safety. Roads designated as collector or local streets in the Plan of Development are eligible for the scenic road designation. All proposed scenic roads shall be referred to the Mansfield Traffic Authority for a report to be received prior to the public hearing provided for in § 155-5A.
Where a town highway or portion thereof is to be considered for designation as a scenic road, a completed application form (to be available in the Planning Office) and applicable portions of the Assessor's maps showing the proposed length of the scenic road and all abutting property owners shall be submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Said application shall include a statement justifying the proposed scenic road designation, a list of the names and addresses of all property owners (based on the current Assessor's records) with frontage abutting the proposed length of scenic road and an area for the abutting property owners to sign the application indicating their approval of the proposed length of scenic road. A public hearing to consider a scenic road designation shall not be held unless the owners of a majority of the frontage abutting the designated portion of the highway have indicated their approval of the scenic road designation.
Where a town highway or portion thereof is to be considered for designation as a scenic road, the Planning and Zoning Commission shall hold a public hearing on the proposal. Hearing notices and deadlines shall be in accordance with the provisions of Section 8-7d of the Connecticut General Statutes. The Planning and Zoning Commission shall have the right to designate an annual deadline or deadlines for the submission of new scenic roads proposals and the right to conduct joint hearings on scenic road proposals. Notification of the public hearing shall be sent by the Planning and Zoning Commission to the Town Council and the owners of lot frontage abutting the portion of the highway which is proposed to be designated as a scenic road.
Following the public hearing, the Planning and Zoning Commission shall vote on the proposed designation pursuant to the procedures set out in Section 8-7d of the Connecticut General Statutes. The designation shall become effective upon such date as the Planning and Zoning Commission shall establish. Any or all of the proposed length of highway may be designated as a scenic road, except that no highway or portion thereof may be so designated as a scenic road unless, in accordance with Section 7-149a of the Connecticut General Statutes, the owners of a majority of the frontage abutting that designated portion of the highway agree to the designation by filing a written statement of approval with the Town Clerk of the Town of Mansfield on or before the date on which the designation is to become effective.
The scenic road designation may be rescinded by the Planning and Zoning Commission using these procedures; also necessary is the written concurrence of the owners of a majority of the road frontage abutting the portion of the highway whose designation as a scenic road is to be rescinded.
Any person aggrieved by a designation of or refusal to designate a highway or portion of a highway as a scenic road by the Planning and Zoning Commission pursuant to this chapter may appeal such designation in the manner and utilizing the same standards of review provided for appeals from the decisions of the Planning and Zoning Commission under Section 8-8 of the Connecticut General Statutes.
Except as provided in Subsections C, D and E hereof; any person, corporation and/or town agency may petition the Planning and Zoning Commission to alter or improve a scenic road designated under this chapter, and the Planning and Zoning Commission shall, after public hearing in accordance with § 155-5A above, forward the same with its recommendation thereon to the Town Council for action pursuant to Subsection B hereof. This review process shall constitute compliance with the referral requirements of Section 8-24 of the Connecticut General Statutes.
Any highway which has been designated as a scenic road under this chapter may be altered or improved, including but not limited to widening of the right-of-way or traveled portion of the highway, paving, changing the grade, straightening, removing of stone walls or removing of mature trees, only upon approval by the Town Council by a simple majority if recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission under Subsection A above or by a two-thirds (2/3) vote if not so recommended. The Council shall record in its minutes the reasons for such approval or denial.
Emergency, routine and minor maintenance on any highway which has been designated as a scenic road under this chapter shall be continued by the town without the necessity of Council vote, review by the Planning and Zoning Commission or public hearing. Such work shall include the removal of dead, diseased, damaged or dangerous trees and branches of trees; trimming of the tree branches that encroach on the traveled portion of the highway below the height needed to allow school buses, emergency vehicles and town road maintenance vehicles to pass; trimming or removal of brush and removal of boulders or other obstacles that encroach on the traveled portion of the road; necessary trimming for utility lines; trimming of brush to enhance and protect scenic views, stone walls and mature trees; correction of drainage problems; striping, graveling, filling, retreatment, including but not limited to overlay paving and chipsealing and repair of existing roadway surfaces; grading; snowplowing; sanding; and emergency repairs to said road in the case of a natural disaster making it impassable or unsafe for public travel.
Alterations or improvements.
Any highway which has been designated as a scenic road under this chapter may be altered or improved, including but not limited to widening of the right-of-way or traveled portion of the highway, paving, changing the grade, removal of the stone walls, ledge or boulders, installation of drainage facilities, straightening or removal of vegetation, including mature trees, provided that the Planning and Zoning Commission determines that said alterations or improvements are necessary to protect and promote public safety in conjunction with the approval of a new driveway, a new highway or a new subdivision or other land use development that is accessed by the subject scenic road and is under the Planning and Zoning Commission's regulatory jurisdiction. Any alteration or improvement to a scenic road shall not be approved unless a public hearing has been held on the subject project.
Any alterations or improvements authorized by this section shall be the minimum necessary to address safety issues associated with the new driveway, highway or land use development, and any approved alteration or improvement shall be designed to minimize impacts on the scenic characteristics of the subject scenic road. No alteration or improvement shall be approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission until potential alternative solutions have been considered thoroughly. Stone wall relocations and reconstructions, the planting of new trees, shrubs or flowers, the installation of underground utilities and other mitigating measures may be required by the Planning and Zoning Commission in conjunction with its authorization of alterations or improvements to scenic roads.
Scenic highway designations shall in no way interfere with normal agricultural operations as determined by the Connecticut Commissioner of Agriculture.
Any alterations and improvements of a designated scenic road shall be carried out so as to preserve to the highest degree possible the scenic characteristics of the highway. Any proposed alteration to a scenic road shall be reviewed with due regard to the following parameters:
A thorough review of alternative solutions to minimize impacts on scenic characteristics.
Speed limits. Scenic values often are correlated with lower speeds. Speed limits on scenic roads shall be posted and enforced.
Curves. Scenic values often are correlated with the existence of curves which allow a constant unfolding of new and changing views. Curves shall not be eliminated unless necessary for traffic safety.
Grades. Hills and valleys often are correlated with scenic values. They shall not be destroyed by cuts and fills unless necessary for traffic safety.
Widths. A narrow road often is correlated with scenic beauty. Designated highways should not be widened unless necessary for traffic safety.
Side slopes. Existing steepness of side slopes often is preferable to reduction of gradient by extensive removal of soil and rock. This is especially true where the slope is fully stabilized and where it is rich with existing ground cover, shrubs and trees.
Vistas. vistas of distant landscapes shall be preserved by suitable vegetation management techniques.
Utility lines. Wherever possible, utility lines should be put underground. Where they are overhead, the utility corporations should be encouraged to cooperate by implementing suitable vegetation management techniques which preserve the wildflowers and the shrubs.
Vegetation. Vegetation on the side of the road shall be managed in such a way as to preserve wildflowers, shrubs of ornamental wildlife values and trees. Overarching isolated trees and the canopy of a closed forest can have extremely high scenic value.
Billboards, sand, gravel and salt piles, refuse disposal and other unsightly structures or situations shall be forbidden. Where possible, scenic and preservation easements should be acquired from adjacent owners to ensure the continuance of natural relief, desirable features and scenic and historic values in the public interest.
This chapter shall be enforced by the Planning and Zoning Commission, acting through its designated enforcement officials. A violation of this chapter shall be an infraction for each day that such violation continues, and such other legal remedies as may be available to the Planning and Zoning Commission. If enforcement is sought through the courts and judgment is rendered for the town, the court, in the event of a willful violation, shall award to the town, as costs, a reasonable attorney's fee.