[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Clinton 10-9-2001 by L.L. No. 3-2001. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known as the "Scenic and Historic Roads Law of the Town of Clinton, Dutchess County, New York."
The Town of Clinton is characterized by an attractive rural landscape and historic hamlets that are visible from and enhanced by a network of scenic roads in all parts of the Town.
The Town's Master Plan has documented the contribution scenic roads make to the character and the physical appearance of the community. Moreover, the plan reflected the concerns on the part of the townspeople in noting that road improvements based on inappropriate standards "would diminish the scenic and historic character of Clinton's rural road network."
The Town Board in 1988 passed a resolution declaring "all currently existing roads appearing on the Town map of 1867 as Historic Roads of the Town of Clinton." In doing so, the Town Board sought to preserve and protect the 50 separate roads designated by the resolution.
The Town Board continues to recognize that there are roads in Clinton that are scenic by virtue of their topography, layout, vegetation, geologic formations, stone walls, historic structures, outstanding views, and other attributes both natural and/or historic.
The public interest, health, safety and economic and general welfare of the residents of Clinton are served by maintaining and protecting our scenic and historic roads.
It is the intent of this chapter to preserve scenic features and historic relevance of designated roads.
Further, it is the intent of this chapter to provide a reasonable balance between the need to maintain safe and efficient roadways and the rights of present and future generations to enjoy the scenic quality and historic relevance of the Town's roads.
There is hereby created a volunteer Scenic and Historic Roads Advisory Committee for the Town of Clinton that shall be appointed by the Supervisor of the Town of Clinton, with the consent of a majority of the Town Board, to provide advice and assistance on scenic and historic roads to said Board.
Composition. Such Committee shall consist of not less than five and not more than seven Town residents who have interest or expertise in scenic road matters.
Appointments are for three-year terms, which may be renewed, except when the Committee is first appointed, which first appointment shall be as follows:
If a six- or seven-person Committee is first appointed, the remaining one or two members will receive three-year terms. The term of each member shall expire on December 31 of the year or years following the appointment as provided above.
Duties. The Scenic and Historic Roads Advisory Committee shall:
Review formal requests from Town residents concerning designation of a particular road or roads as a scenic and/or historic road as defined by this chapter;
Follow procedures for making recommendations concerning granting or denying designation in accordance with the provisions of this chapter;
Prepare designation documents, such as a scenic and historic road evaluation form or short-form environmental assessment form for Town Board action;
Recommend to the Town Board roads deemed worthy of designation based on standards and criteria contained herein;
Consult with the Town Superintendent of Highways and review his annual work plans or other proposed work or projects to determine if review by the Town Board is required pursuant to this chapter and recommend to the Town Superintendent of Highways and the Town Board appropriate road practices and procedures along scenic and historic roads, in accordance with this chapter;
Work with the Town Highway Superintendent and the Town Board to notify adjacent property owners of impending major road changes;
Periodically inspect designated scenic and historic roads to ensure that scenic features are being maintained, and that review and maintenance standards are being followed;
File formal reports with the Town Board, semi-annually on June 1 and December 1, regarding activities completed by the Committee in accordance with this chapter and any other matters that, in the opinion of the Committee, should be brought to the attention of the Town Board. The Committee will also report to the Board on plans or activities to be carried out during the following six months, with recommendations for Town Board action, and make such further recommendations to the Town Board from time to time as deemed necessary by the Committee;
Perform other tasks that the Town Board may assign or delegate as the Town Board deems necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes and intent of this chapter.
Criteria for the selection of scenic and historic roads are as follows:
Roads listed on the 1867 Town of Clinton map;
Roads with visible and/or adjacent historic sites, such as cemeteries, mills, quarries and other similar sites which reflect the Town's history;
Roads with visible and/or adjacent historic structures, such as farmsteads and buildings, bridges, stone walls, historic landmarks, and other similar structures.
Scenic views, including, but not limited to, such features as pastures, forests, fields, rolling landscape and wetlands;
Mature and healthy trees, canopies, wildflowers, unique or unusual vegetation or plantings, unique rock formations of geological interest;
Road features that conform naturally to surrounding topography and are associated with scenic values:
Lakes, streams, brooks and ponds that are visible from the road.
Editor's Note: The Scenic and/or Historic Road Evaluation Form is included at the end of this chapter.
New York State's "Manual: Guidelines for Rural Town and County Roads (1989)" points out that the "safe operation of any road is dependent upon drivers traveling at a reasonable speed and becoming aware of hazards in time to react appropriately. Maintaining driver's expectations is the key to safe operation." It also notes that "designing a reasonable, safe and affordable local rural road system that adequately serves the varying requirements that users place on it should be based on consistently providing a road that is appropriate to the uses that it serves." Another important safety factor is road maintenance. Highway Law § 140 stipulates that the Town's Superintendent of Highways is responsible for maintaining and servicing all Town roads in a manner consistent with and conducive to safe travel by all private, commercial, and emergency vehicles under all conditions.
The Town, the Town Highway Superintendent, their officers, agents and employees, and all landowners or occupants of property in the Town of Clinton shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter and shall be and are prohibited from taking any action or performing any services, labor, construction, improvements or the like when the same are subject to prior review by the Town Board as provided in the following section.
The Town Board has the ultimate responsibility for preserving scenic and historic roads in the Town of Clinton and shall, therefore, subject to its review any work, project or action of any nature or kind, to be undertaken within the established right-of-way, which may have an impact on or affect any road designated as scenic or historic pursuant to this chapter, as herein enacted or subsequently amended, or which may impact or affect the historic or scenic qualities set forth in § 189-4 of this chapter. No person, including, but not limited to, the Town Superintendent of Highways, employees of the Town, and property owners or persons acting on behalf of property owners, shall initiate or perform any work or action set forth in Subsection B(1) through (8) of this section without first making application to the Town Board for review, pursuant to this chapter. The following types of work, project or action all fall within the established right-of-way, up to a maximum of three rods (49 feet, six inches) or, if measured from the center to either side of the roadway, a maximum of 24 feet, nine inches.
The types of work, project or action which are subject to Town Board review include, but are not limited to, the following:
Widening of the right-of-way or traveled portion of the road;
Paving or oil/stone overlay of unpaved or gravel roads, or changes from oil and stone to macadam;
Changes in road grade;
Straightening road alignment;
Removal of stone walls or remnants thereof;
Removal or substantial trimming of mature and healthy trees;
Installation of new culverts or expansion or extension of existing culverts that extend beyond the road bed or will have a significant impact on off-road scenic and historic characteristics;
Cutting of road shoulders beyond those currently existing as of the time of the enactment of this chapter;
Installation of new guide rails. Replacement of a guide rail would also be subject to review under this chapter in the event that replacement of more than 50% of an existing section of a guide rail is required due to the damage, obsolescence or normal deterioration. The provisions of § 189-8 of this chapter regarding emergencies shall not be considered to be overruled or otherwise restricted by this provision regarding guide rails;
Installation or construction of major drainage improvements along or adjacent to existing roadways. The term "major drainage improvements" shall include, but not be limited to, new ditches, changes of alignments of ditching from an original design, installation of new piping and stone, installation of new catch basins, and the reshaping of ditches and roadway side slopes. The term shall not include routine debris and/or brush removal for the purpose of restoring such areas to their original or existing condition;
Any proposal for road work which is subject to review and inquiry by the Town Board as provided by this section must be accompanied by a specific justification and include all of the following as may be applicable to the proposal:
The Town recognizes that emergency repairs to scenic roads may be necessitated by accidents or natural disasters, and such emergency repairs may be performed without prior review by the Town Board. In such cases, however, scenic and historic roads shall be restored to the condition which existed prior to said emergency as soon as is practically possible.
Any person or entity subject to the provisions of this chapter shall, prior to performing work projects or actions subject to this chapter, make application to the Town Board on a form to be promulgated by the Scenic and Historic Roads Advisory Committee. Said form shall set forth, at a minimum, the location of the proposed work, project or action; contain a sufficient description of the property or portion of property to be affected, with reference to fixed boundaries or landmarks, so as to identify specific aspects of the project; describe particular attractions of the roadscape, vegetation and structures, as well as road features; set forth, in specific detail, the nature of the proposed action and the changes to the scenic and historic road or the historic or scenic qualities contained and set forth in § 189-4 of this chapter.
The Town Board of the Town of Clinton does hereby designate as scenic and historic roads those roads set forth herein. The Town Board may, from time to time, add or delete roads from such designation in consultation with the Advisory Committee.
Editor's Note: The list of scenic and historic roads currently designated by the Town Board is included at the end of this chapter.
The Town Board, after receiving an application from a person or entity required to comply with the versions of this chapter, shall review the proposed work, action or project, pursuant to and consistent with the provisions of the State Environmental Quality Review Act, and shall further approve, approve with conditions, or deny said proposed work, project or action within 60 days of the receipt of said application. Said approval, approval with conditions or denial shall be based upon a determination by the Town that the work, project or action does or does not adversely impact or affect the historic or scenic conditions set forth in § 189-4 of this chapter. The Town Board may require that the work, action or project be subject to special conditions and restrictions for the protection, enhancement, perpetuation and use of said scenic historic roads and may include appropriate and reasonable control of the use and appearance of neighboring private property within public view, or both. Such conditions or restrictions shall be reasonable and appropriate to this purpose. The Town Board may prohibit any such work, project or action which it finds is not in conformity with the intent and provisions of this chapter. The Town Board may also prohibit such work, action or project if it finds that there is a reasonable alternative to the proposed work, action or project, which shall have a lesser degree of effect or impact upon the scenic qualities set forth in § 189-4 of this chapter.
Any person or entity violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a Violation B, punishable as set forth in Chapter 137, Fines and Penalties. Such violations shall be prosecuted in the Justice Court of the Town of Clinton by the Building Inspector, Zoning Administrator or Attorney for the Town. The Town Court, in assessing a penalty, may consider alternatives to fines in the nature of community service or services in the nature of improvement or preservation of scenic and historic roads.