[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting 5-19-1997. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to help preserve Bethany's rural character and beauty by enabling the town to preserve its scenic rural roads, consistent with safe travel. Bethany's rural roads are an important part of its history and an essential component of its rural character. They provide recreational opportunities for those who travel along them, by whatever means, enjoying the scenery along the way.
Authority to designate scenic roads. The authority to designate a town highway or any portion of any town highway in the Town of Bethany as a scenic road is hereby delegated to the Planning and Zoning Commission of the Town of Bethany, to be exercised pursuant to the designation criteria and according to the procedures set forth herein. (Hereinafter, the word "road" shall be used to mean any public highway in the Town of Bethany. This term does not include state highways or private roads or private rights-of-way.)
No portion of a road shall be designated as a scenic road if the abutting property is located in a Business and Industrial Zone on either side of that portion of the road at the time that the application for designation is filed hereunder.
No road or portion of road shall be designated as a scenic road if the Commission finds, based on the evidence in the record before it, that:
The road serves as a primary artery for traffic as an east-west route or as a north-south route, that a state highway is not a reasonable alternative and that alterations or improvements, as defined herein, must be made in the road to safely accommodate existing or reasonably and proximately anticipated traffic; or
The road carries intensive vehicular traffic, such that a high level of traffic congestion results in unreasonable delays for vehicular traffic.
If only a portion of a road is to be designated as a scenic road, that portion must extend from the intersection with a different road to the intersection with another road, or to the end of the road or to a town boundary line. If a road is partially in a Business and Industrial Zone, the portion of the road to be designated may begin at the termination of the Business and Industrial Zone and end at an intersection with another road, the end of the road or a town boundary line.
If the conditions of § 168-2B(1), (2) and (3) of this chapter are met, and the approval of the owners of a majority of lot frontage has been established as set forth in § 168-2C of this chapter, the Commission shall designate the road or portion of road a scenic road, if it finds that the road or portion of road has two or more of the following characteristics:
It is unpaved;
It is bordered by mature trees or stone walls;
The traveled portion is no more than 20 feet in width;
It offers scenic views;
It blends naturally into the surrounding terrain;
It parallels or crosses over brooks, streams, lakes or ponds; or
It abuts land on which significant historic structures or notable geologic or other natural features are located.
Procedure for scenic road designation.
An application to the Planning and Zoning Commission for designation of any road or portion of road as a scenic road hereunder must include the following:
The name of the road proposed to be designated, in whole or in part, as a scenic road.
The total frontage of the road or portion of road proposed for designation and, in the case of a proposal for designation of a portion of a road, a statement as to how the proposed designation complies with § 168-2B(3) of this chapter.
A description of the road or portion of road proposed for scenic road designation, indicating which of the minimum criteria set forth in § 168-2B(4) of this chapter are met, and further describing those additional characteristics of the road or of land adjoining the road that should be considered in protection of the road.
The name and address of the person or organization to be considered the applicant for purposes of receiving notice due an applicant under applicable law.
Such application must be accompanied by either of the following:
A written statement or statements of approval signed by owners of a majority of lot frontage abutting the road or portion of road proposed for designation, stating that they consent to its designation as a scenic road. Each statement of approval shall include the name, address and, to the best of the owner's knowledge, the lot frontage of each owner of land approving the proposed designation of the road in question as a scenic road. It shall also contain the name, address and signature of each circulator of the statement of approval, who must be a resident of Bethany, and a statement by each such circulator, at the bottom of each statement of approval, that the circulator either knows each individual who signed the statement or that the signer satisfactorily identified himself or herself to the circulator. The Commission may request certification from the Town Clerk that owners of a majority of lot frontage have signed the written statement or statements of approval.
A written statement or statements requesting designation of the road or portion of road as a scenic road, signed by 5% of the number of persons qualified to vote at a Town Meeting of the town. Each such statement requesting designation shall include the name and address of each person signing the statement. It shall also contain the name, address and signature of each circulator of the statement, who must be a resident of Bethany, and a statement by each such circulator, at the bottom of each statement requesting designation, that the circulator either knows each individual who signed the statement or that the signer satisfactorily identified himself or herself to the circulator. The Town Clerk shall certify that the persons signing the written statement or statements are qualified to vote at a Town Meeting and are sufficient to comply with the provisions of this § 168-2C(1)(b) within 10 days of the delivery of the statement or statements to the Town Clerk.
Action by Planning and Zoning Commission.
The Planning and Zoning Commission shall conduct a public hearing on any application for scenic road designation and shall reach its decision in accordance with the requirements for notice, hearing and time deadlines as set forth in Sections 8-26, 8-26d and 8-28 of the Connecticut General Statutes, including, without limitation, the requirements for publication of notice of the public hearing and of its decision in a newspaper of general circulation, as set forth therein. The decision shall be accompanied by a statement of reasons why the road or portion of road does or does not meet the criteria for designation as a scenic road.
Within 15 days of its approval of an application to designate a scenic road, the Commission shall notify the Town Clerk, the Board of Selectmen, the Conservation Commission, the Town Road Foreman and the Town Tree Warden of the designation, specifying the scenic characteristics of the road, and, if the application was filed in accordance with § 168-2C(1)(b) of this chapter, the Commission shall file the original statement or statements of approval submitted with the application in the office of the Town Clerk. In the event that the application was filed in accordance with § 168-2C(1)(b) of this chapter, the designation shall not take effect until a statement or statements of approval meeting the requirements of § 168-2C(1)(b) has been filed with the Town Clerk. Such statement or statements must be filed within 90 days of the date of the Planning and Zoning Commission decision approving the application to designate the scenic road, or said decision shall be null and void.
Any person aggrieved by a decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission to designate a scenic road may take an appeal therefrom in the manner and utilizing the same standards of review provided for appeals from the decisions of planning commissions under Section 8-8 of the Connecticut General Statutes.
A scenic road designation may be rescinded following the procedures for designation as set forth in § 168-2 of this chapter, including the requirement that the owners of a majority of lot frontage approve of the rescission.
Protection of scenic roads from major alterations and improvements.
The town shall maintain scenic roads in good and sufficient repair and in passable condition by routine road maintenance; but no alterations or improvements shall be made therein, except as provided in this § 168-4.
Alterations or improvements shall be deemed to include changes in the width of the right-of-way or of the traveled portion, the alignment, the grade or the elevation of the road or in the nature and characteristics of the material used on a roadway surface; removal or destruction of stone walls or portions thereof; removal of boulders and removal or cutting of trees, shrubs or other vegetation within the untraveled portion of the road, except as permitted by § 168-4B of this chapter; and replacement of bridges, guide posts, guide rails and other engineered structures.
Routine road maintenance.
All routine road maintenance shall be performed in a manner to protect and maintain the scenic characteristics of the road as set forth in the designation and, as described herein, shall not be considered alterations or improvements.
Routine road maintenance shall include winter road maintenance and street cleaning; removal of dead and seriously diseased or damaged trees and branches of trees that pose a threat to public safety, in accordance with the requirements of Section 23-59 of the Connecticut General Statutes; trimming of tree branches that encroach on the traveled portion of the road below the height needed to allow school buses, emergency vehicles and other legal vehicles to pass; trimming or removal of brush and removal of boulders or other obstacles that encroach on the traveled portion of the road or obstruct site lines required for safety; necessary cutting and trimming of brush or trees for utility lines, in accordance with Section 16-234 of the Connecticut General Statutes; trimming of brush to enhance and protect scenic views, stone walls, mature trees and other scenic characteristics of the scenic road, as set forth in its designation; correction of road drainage problems, including the removal of trees, shrubs and other vegetation from an existing drainage ditch, provided that the measures taken would not otherwise be considered alterations or improvements hereunder; graveling (or its equivalent) and grading to smooth the surface of unpaved roads, provided that the nature and characteristics of the material used on the road surface remain the same or the surface is restored to a prior passable condition using natural materials; and repaving, retreatment or repair of existing paved surfaces that does not require widening or removal of trees or stone walls or changing the grade or configuration thereof.
Routine road maintenance shall also include the installation of reflectors and the installation of warning, speed limit and other signs.
Connection of driveways to scenic road. Nothing herein shall prohibit a landowner from permanently removing a portion of a stone wall or trees on or in the public right-of-way, if necessary in order to construct or improve a driveway or to provide a safe sight line from a driveway, provided that said landowner has first obtained approval of the Board of Selectmen.
Emergency repairs. In case of an emergency in which the scenic road becomes impassable or unsafe for public travel and access must be provided, emergency repairs may be made as needed but shall be made in a manner which will avoid or reduce adverse effects on scenic characteristics of the road. Reconstruction of the scenic road shall be done in a manner to restore the road, to the extent possible, to its scenic character at the time of the emergency.
Alterations to scenic road to correct potential hazards to safety.
When the Board of Selectmen finds that a potential hazard to the safety of the traveling public may exist on a scenic road, it shall publish a notice in a newspaper of general circulation in Bethany and shall, at the same time, provide a copy of said notice to the Chairman of the Conservation Commission and to all landowners along the scenic road in question. The notice shall specify the location and nature of the potential hazard and briefly describe the alterations proposed in order to correct the potential hazard.
If no written objection is filed with the Selectmen within 10 days of the publication of the notice, the alteration may proceed. If objection is made, a meeting shall be held before the Board of Selectmen, which shall be scheduled no sooner than 10 days after the Board of Selectmen have published notice in a newspaper of general circulation in Bethany indicating the date, time and place of the meeting. At the same time, they shall send a copy of the notice to the person or persons objecting. At said meeting, those in attendance shall have an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed alterations.
Any alterations undertaken to correct a potential safety hazard on a scenic road shall be planned and executed so as to do the least possible damage to the characteristics of the scenic road, as set forth in the designation. Consideration shall be given to alternatives to remedying the potential safety hazard that are less destructive of the characteristics of the scenic road, such as the installation of guide posts or guide rails, and the use of reflectors, warning signs and speed limit signs. Materials that blend into or complement the scenic characteristics of the scenic road, including, but not limited to, stone and timber, shall be used for bridges, guide rails, guide posts and other engineered structures. Curbing shall be used only as necessary for proper lawful drainage.
Alterations and improvements to accommodate changed conditions.
In the event that a scenic road begins to carry intensive vehicular traffic, such that a high level of traffic congestion results in unreasonable delays for vehicular traffic, including emergency vehicles, or in the event that the physical condition of the scenic road deteriorates, such that the town cannot maintain it in good and sufficient repair and in passable condition without alteration or improvement, alteration or improvement may be permitted, in accordance with the standards and procedures set forth herein. Any such alteration or improvement shall be planned and implemented so as to maintain, to the maximum extent possible, the scenic characteristics of the road, as set forth in its designation. No unpaved scenic road shall be paved unless a valid application has been filed in accordance with § 168-4H of this chapter.
If the Board of Selectmen determines that alterations or improvements in the scenic road may be necessary, it shall establish a committee, as set forth in § 168-4F(3) of this chapter, to advise it as to appropriate alterations and improvements to be made in said scenic road and/or as to appropriate alternatives to alteration or improvement, according to the guidelines set forth in § 168-4F(4) of this chapter.
The Committee shall consist of two representatives of existing landowners along the scenic road, as chosen by the landowners upon notification, in writing, to all such landowners of the establishment of said committee by the Board of Selectmen, provided that if the landowners do not choose representatives within 30 days of such notification, the Board of Selectmen shall choose the representatives; the Town Road Foreman; and one representative each from the Bethany Volunteer Fire Department, the Conservation Commission and the Planning and Zoning Commission, to be chosen by the respective department or commission. The representative of the Conservation Commission shall chair the Committee. The Committee shall comply with all applicable legal requirements, including the requirements of Sections 1-18a through 1-211 of the Connecticut General Statutes.
The Committee shall report its recommendations to the Board of Selectmen in writing.
The recommendations shall maintain, to the maximum extent possible, the characteristics of the scenic road as identified in its designation, including but not limited to the width of the scenic road, curves and grades, stone walls, mature trees, bushes, rock formations and other notable natural and historic features adjacent to the traveled portion of the road, or which can be seen from the road, and the absence of paving in the case of an unpaved road.
The recommendations shall recognize that scenic roads conform to the topography of the land, are often narrow, uncurbed and flanked closely by forest or field and that unpaved roads are especially deserving of preservation as reminders of Bethany's past.
Consideration shall be given to the installation of guide posts and guide rails and the use of reflectors, warning, speed limit and other signs as alternatives to alteration or improvement. Materials that blend into or complement the scenic characteristics of the scenic road, including but not limited to stone and timber, shall be used for bridges, guide rails, guide posts and other engineered structures. Curbing shall be used only as necessary for proper lawful drainage.
Upon receipt of the Committee's report, the Board of Selectmen shall make the report available to the public at the office of the Town Clerk and schedule a meeting to discuss and hear comment on the recommendations. The meeting shall be scheduled no sooner than 15 days after notice of the meeting has been published in a newspaper of general circulation in Bethany, which notice shall state the purpose of the meeting. The report shall be made available to the public at the Town Clerk's office no later than the date on which said notice is published.
Connection of new road to scenic road. Whenever the Board of Selectmen reviews a proposal pursuant to its road specifications for a new road, such as a subdivision road, its recommendation shall include consideration of the following:
Alternative locations for the connection of a new road to a scenic road, in order to select a location that would have the least potential detrimental impact on the scenic road.
Alternative routes for the new road that could connect the new road to other existing roads, in order to minimize or eliminate any potential detrimental impact on one or more scenic roads.
Paving of unpaved road. Upon the filing of an application with the Town Clerk, signed by the owners of a majority of lot frontage abutting an unpaved scenic road and indicating that they want the traveled portion of the unpaved road to be paved, the Town Clerk shall forward such application to the Board of Selectmen, and the Board of Selectmen may cause the traveled portion of the scenic road to be paved, provided that the Town Clerk has certified to the Board of Selectmen that the application is signed by owners of a majority of lot frontage along the designated scenic road.
Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to prohibit a person owning or occupying land abutting a scenic road from maintaining and repairing the land which abuts the scenic road if the maintenance or repair occurs on land not within the right-of-way, paved or unpaved, of the scenic road.
Nothing herein shall relieve the town from complying with Section 8-24 of the Connecticut General Statutes.
If any portion of this chapter is determined by a court of competent jurisdiction to be unconstitutional or unenforceable in any respect, that portion shall be deemed severed from this chapter, and the remainder of this chapter shall be unaffected thereby.