[HISTORY: Adopted by the Legislative Council of the Town of Newtown 8-3-1983 (Ord. No. 62); amended 9-17-2003; 4-5-2006. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
It is the public policy of the Town of Newtown to promote the rehabilitation, maintenance and protection of forest lands for the purpose of conserving water, preventing floods and soil erosion, of improving the conditions for wildlife and recreation, of protecting and improving air and water quality, watersheds and rivers, fish and wildlife resources, forest soils, aesthetic, social and economic benefits, fire protection, timber regeneration capability, sustained forest productivity, and the quality of the environment, and of providing a continuing and an increasing supply of forest products for public consumption, farm use and for the wood-using industries of the Town and the State of Connecticut. As a result of this policy, all forested lands shall be kept in a condition which shall not jeopardize the foregoing public interest, and the forest practices used to implement this public policy shall be prescribed for the proper and profitable management of all forest lands.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ACCESS ROAD
- A roadway normally designed and intended for use by motor vehicles which provides access to or into forest land.
- An area measurement of 43,560 square feet, or approximately 208 feet by 208 feet.
- BORDER STRIP
- An area of variable width and length in which activity is restricted to provide a visual screen or to protect water quality.
- The Inland Wetlands Commission of the Town of Newtown, Connecticut.
- FORESTED LAND
- Land having a cover of trees and shrubs.
- FOREST PRACTICES
- Any activity which may alter the physical characteristics of any forested land, including, but not limited to, any activity associated with the cutting of trees or harvesting of forest products.
- That portion of any lot or parcel of land covered by any structure, including, but not limited to, septic systems and reserve area, wells, buildings, pools, and driveways.
- The identification, by blazing or painting, of those trees to be harvested.
- Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company, organization or legal entity of any kind, including any political subdivision of the state and excluding any federal or state agency.
- A large machine used in moving logs from stump site to a landing, commonly rubber-tired.
- The act of moving logs from the stump site to a landing.
- SKID ROAD
- A main pathway normally intended for repeated use by a skidder to reach skid trails and where extensive exposure of soils can be expected from heavy traffic.
- SKID TRAIL
- A secondary pathway intended for use by a skidder to reach trees or groups of trees which have been cut and where extensive exposure of soils is not expected.
- The woody material or debris left on the ground after an area is logged.
- A large woody plant usually having one self-supporting stem or trunk and numerous branches, normally expected to attain heights in excess of 20 feet.
- Rivers, streams, brooks, waterways, lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps, bogs and all other bodies of water, natural or artificial, vernal or intermittent, public or private, which are contained within, flow through or border upon the Town of Newtown.
- Land, including submerged land, which consists of any of the soil types designated as poorly drained, very poorly drained, alluvial or floodplain by the National Cooperative Soils Survey of the Soil Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as it may be amended from time to time.
- YARDING AREA
- A cleared area to which trees are hauled by skidder for storage before transfer to trucks.
The Commission shall be authorized to enforce the existing rules and regulations previously established by its predecessor and to promulgate further rules and regulations for the development, conservation, supervision and regulation of natural resources, including water resources, within the territorial limits of the Town.
The forests, within the territorial limits of the Town, are a natural resource within the meaning of § 140-3, and rules and regulations are required for their development, conservation and supervision.
No person shall conduct or cause to be conducted any forest practice until a permit is issued by the Commission except as otherwise provided in § 140-10 hereof.
Contents. The Commission shall have the power to adopt regulations to implement the public policy recognized by this chapter. These regulations may include provisions with respect to, but not limited to, the following:
The protection of wetlands, watercourses and other bodies of water from siltation and damage during and after harvesting operations by, among other means, the use of sediment and erosion controls, restricting the operation of harvesting equipment in wetlands, watercourses or bodies of water, or requiring removal of all debris and temporary structures and restoration, including stabilization of the grades of the bank at any stream or watercourse crossing.
The dimensions, locations, grades, construction and maintenance guidelines for access roads, skid roads, sawmill sites and yarding areas.
The reservation of border strips along perennial watercourses and property lines.
The marking, cutting and skidding of those trees to be harvested and the damaging of residual trees.
Requiring the use of the best available forest management practices.
Restricting reasonably the hours, days or seasons of harvesting.
Requiring access and skid roads to be left clear of slash debris and obstructions.
Providing for the enforcement of its regulations consistent with the provisions of this chapter.
In addition to the requirements of Subsection B(2) of this section, no regulations shall become effective until after a public hearing is held by the Commission, at which the public shall have an opportunity to be heard. Notice of the time and place of such hearing shall be published in the form of a legal advertisement, appearing in a newspaper having a substantial circulation in the Town of Newtown at least twice at intervals of not less than two days, the first not more than 25 days, and not less than 15 days, and the last not less than two days before such hearing. A copy of such proposed regulations shall be filed in the Commission's office for public inspection at least one day before such publication. Upon the request of the Commission or any person, any such regulation may be amended or repealed. In the event that the request is made by any person, such request shall be in writing in a form prescribed by the Commission and acted upon within 90 days of the Commission's next regular meeting following the submittal of such request. A public hearing shall be held upon any such request within 60 days of submittal. The Commission may require a filing fee to be deposited with the agency to defray the cost of publication of the notice required for a hearing. Any regulation shall become effective at such time as is fixed by the Commission, which shall be no later than 60 days from the affirmative vote by four members of the Commission.
With respect to the adoption of the original regulations under this Subsection B of this section, after conducting the public hearing required under Subsection B(1) of this section, the Commission shall recommend the proposed regulations, with or without amendment, to the Legislative Council. If within 30 days of the submission of the regulations to the Chairman of the Legislative Council and to the Town Clerk 2/3 of the full membership of the Legislative Council have not voted to reject the regulations, they shall become effective on the 31st day following submittal.
Requirement. Except as otherwise provided in § 140-10 hereof, prior to the conducting of any forest practice or causing the same, any owner of forest land shall make application to the Commission for a permit.
Contents. The application shall be in such form and contain such information as the Commission may prescribe in its regulations.
Time periods. The Commission shall set time periods for action on applications which are identical to the time periods set for the handling of applications under the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Regulations administered by the Commission.
Public hearings. The Commission shall hold a public hearing with respect to all applications for activities involving a significant impact or major effect on forested land.
Fees. All fees for applications shall be established by the Commission, subject to the approval of the Board of Selectmen.
Other permits and licenses. Before any permit can be issued by the Commission, the applicant must receive all other necessary permits from other Town agencies.
Term. A permit shall expire within 12 months of the date of issuance with or without conditions, unless harvesting has commenced. Once harvesting has commenced, a permit shall expire 24 months from the date of issuance or at the completion of harvesting, whichever is earlier.
Copies to Bureau of Forestry. Upon granting a permit, the Commission shall provide notice to the State Bureau of Forestry with respect to the applicant's name, harvest location, acres to be harvested and volume of forest products to be harvested.
Cease-and-desist orders. If the Commission or its duly authorized agent finds that any person is conducting or maintaining any activity or condition in violation of this chapter, the regulations promulgated in accordance with this chapter, or the decisions of the Commission, the Commission, or its duly authorized agent, may issue a written order by certified mail to such person conducting such activity or maintaining such condition to cease immediately such activity or to correct such conditions. Within 10 days of the issuance of such order, the Commission shall hold a hearing to provide the person an opportunity to be heard and show cause why the order should not remain in effect. The Commission shall consider the facts presented at the hearing and, within 10 days of the completion of the hearing, notify the person by certified mail that the original order remains in effect, that a revised order is in effect, or that the order has been withdrawn. The original order shall be effective upon issuance and shall remain in effect until the Commission affirms, revises or withdraws the order. The issuance of an order pursuant to this section shall not delay or bar any action pursuant to Subsection C of this section.
Revocation of permits. The Commission may revoke or suspend any permit, the conditions or limitations of which have been exceeded, or which was secured through deception or through inaccurate information. Before such suspension or revocation may take effect, the Commission shall afford the applicant opportunity to show compliance with all lawful requirements for retention of the permit. In the event that the Commission shall suspend or revoke a permit pursuant to this subsection, the applicant shall be notified of the date of the decision and the Commission shall cause notice of its order in revocation or suspension of a permit to be published in a newspaper having general circulation in the Town of Newtown. The issuance of an order pursuant to this section shall not delay or bar any action pursuant to Subsection C of this section.
Fines. Any person who violates this chapter, the regulations issued in accordance with the provision of this chapter, or the decisions of the Commission shall be fined not more than $100 per tree cut, in the event of not having obtained a permit, and not more than $100 per day for all other violations.
The following activities shall be exempted from the operation and effect of this chapter and any rules and regulations promulgated by the Commission pursuant to this chapter:
The cutting of fuel wood by an owner or licensee for his or the licensee's own personal noncommercial use.
Routine maintenance of roads, easements and rights-of-way.
The clearing of homesites to the extent that the clearing per homesite shall not exceed an area of more than 3/4 acre, not including the area for use as a driveway.
Christmas tree culture (Clearing in excess of one acre to establish a Christmas tree plantation is not exempt.).
Clearing of approved subdivision roads and public utility easements.
The Commission may designate one or more persons as its agents in order to enforce the provisions of this chapter and regulations promulgated in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. Any member of the Commission or person so designated as its agent shall have the right, without permission or a search warrant, to go on any property to make an investigation and enforce this chapter.
The Town of Newtown consents to a suit against it by any person aggrieved by any order or decision of the Commission, provided said suit is commenced and returned to the Superior Court in and for the Judicial District of Danbury within 21 days of receipt of an order or decision of the Commission.