[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Farmington 6-25-2002. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The scenic and rural roads of the Town of Farmington are an irreplaceable resource.
The scenic values of some rural roads in Farmington have been destroyed or are in danger of destruction because of past or potential alterations to their rights-of-way. Such alterations have had, and could continue to have, a significant adverse impact on the quality of the Town's environment in general, and, in particular, on aesthetic and historic values that are of great but immeasurable benefit to residents and visitors alike.
As explicitly expressed by Section 7-149a of the Connecticut General Statutes, the preservation and protection of the scenic or historic values of rural roads is essential to the welfare of the people of Connecticut. It is the purpose of this chapter to balance that need in Farmington with the traditional need to provide, in transportation matters, for common convenience and public safety.
Therefore, be it ordained by the Town of Farmington that, pursuant to the authority granted by Section 7-149a of the Connecticut General Statutes, the Town of Farmington provide for the designation of Town roads (highways) or portions thereof as scenic roads, and further, in order to maintain the scenic nature of highways so designated or portions thereof, the Town of Farmington is authorized to regulate, in accordance with this chapter, the future alteration or improvement of roads so designated, including, but not limited to, widening of the right-of-way or of the traveled portion of the highway, paving, changes in grade, straightening, removal of stone walls and removal of mature trees.
The authority to designate a highway or any portion of any highway as a scenic road is hereby designated to the Town Plan and Zoning Commission of the Town of Farmington upon receipt of a petition as set forth in § 151-4 of this chapter.
No highway or portion of a highway shall be designated as a scenic road if the abutting property contains intensive commercial development or if the highway itself has intensive vehicular traffic. Prior to designating a highway or portion thereof as a scenic road, the Town Plan and Zoning Commission must first specifically find that at least one of the following criteria is met:
The highway is unpaved;
The highway is bordered by mature trees or stone walls;
The traveled portion of the highway is no more than 20 feet in width;
The highway offers scenic views;
The highway blends naturally into the surrounding terrain; or
The highway parallels or crosses over brooks, streams, lakes, or ponds.
No highway or portions thereof may be designated as a scenic road by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission pursuant to this chapter unless the owners of the majority of the lot frontage abutting the highway or portion thereof agree to the designation of the highway as a scenic road by filing a written statement of approval with the Town Clerk of the Town of Farmington.
Property owners may petition the Town Plan and Zoning Commission for a designation of a highway or portion thereof as a scenic road. The petition shall state what road or portion of road is requested to be designated as a scenic road and describe those characteristics of the road which qualify it for scenic road status, as well as other characteristics which enhance the scenic character of the road. The petition shall be signed by the owners of a majority of lot frontage abutting the road or portion of road in question (such ownership shall be verified by the Town Assessor), stating that they approve of designating the road or portion of road a scenic road, and indicating, to the best of their knowledge, their lot frontage along the road or portion of the road in question. Each signer of the petition shall indicate his or her address. The petition should also include the names and addresses of owners of lot frontage abutting the road or portion of road in question who did not sign the petition. The petition must contain the name, address and signature of the circulator of the petition, who must be a resident of Farmington. Said petition shall also have a signed statement by the circulator that the circulator either knows each individual who signed the petition or that the signer satisfactorily identified himself or herself to the circulator. An original and one copy of the petition shall be filed with the Town Clerk, who shall retain the copy and forward the original to the Town Plan and Zoning Commission. Upon receipt of a petition the Commission shall transmit a copy to the Town Engineer who shall provide a legal description of the road right-of-way. Where it is determined that such road or portion thereof has no established legal boundary, no scenic road designation shall be made until such boundary(ies) have been set in accordance with Chapter 169 of the Farmington Code of Ordinances.
In order to designate a highway or portion thereof a scenic road, the Town Plan and Zoning Commission shall first hold a public hearing regarding the designation of such road as a scenic road. Notice of the public hearing shall be given by publication in a newspaper in substantial circulation in the Town of Farmington at least twice in intervals of not less than two days, the first not more than 15 days, nor less than 10 days, and the last not less than two days prior to the date of such hearing and by sending a copy thereof by mail to the owners of lots fronting the highway or the portion of the highway to be designated as a scenic road. The Town Plan and Zoning Commission shall act upon the designation within the period of time permitted under Section 8-26d of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended. Notice of the decision of the Commission shall be published in a newspaper having a substantial circulation in the Town of Farmington and addressed by certified mail to the owners of lots fronting on that highway or portion thereof designated as a scenic road, by its secretary or clerk, under his signature in any written, printed, typewritten or stamped forms, within 15 days after such decision has been rendered. Such notice shall be a simple statement that the highway or a portion thereof was or was not designated as a scenic road by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission, together with the date of such action. The grounds for the designation or nondesignation shall be stated in the records of the Commission and shall include in as much detail as possible the special features which make the highway so designated as scenic, or the reasons for denying designation.
The designation of a highway or a portion thereof as a scenic road may be rescinded by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission, using the above procedures, and provided that the owners of the majority of the lot frontage abutting the highway or a portion of the highway concur with such rescission as set forth in this chapter.
Any person aggrieved by a designation or refusal to designate a highway or portion of a highway as a scenic road pursuant to this section or by any alteration or improvement of such highway may appeal such designation in the manner and utilizing the same standards or review provided for appeals from the decisions of the Town Plan and Zoning Commissions under Connecticut General Statute Section 8-28, as amended.
Preservation objective. Routine maintenance and the regulation of future alterations and improvements of designated highways shall be carried out so as to preserve to the highest degree possible the scenic characteristics of the highway which are indicated in the records of the Town Plan and Zoning Commission as the basis for the designation.
Hearing and decision responsibility. The alteration or improvement of a designated scenic road shall be determined by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission. Any proposal for alteration or improvement, whether by public or private applicant, shall be submitted to the Town Plan and Zoning Commission, which shall hold a public hearing prior to rendering its decision.
Routine road maintenance. Such maintenance shall include removal of dead and seriously diseased or damaged 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 and emergency 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, mature trees and other characteristics of the scenic road set forth in the decision designating it a scenic road; correction of drainage problems without significant damage to existing stone walls and mature trees; and graveling, retreatment and repair of existing roadway surfaces.
Natural disasters. In the case of a natural disaster in which a road becomes impassable or unsafe for public travel and access must be provided, emergency repairs may be made as needed.
Standards for alterations. When contemplating alterations to a scenic road for common convenience and necessity, including, without limitation, safety reasons for fire and police considerations, the following procedures shall be followed:
Review of a suitable map and, where deemed necessary by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission, of a technical report documenting the cited hazards and offering alternative solutions.
Public hearing to allow full public participation.
A decision-making process that not only reviews the specific safety features, but also takes into account the overall impact of the possible change in a scenic road as well as the public response.
The final decision shall reflect the least damage to the character of the scenic road. If stone walls or portions thereof must be removed, the Town shall make the greatest effort to ensure they are rebuilt along the untraveled portion of the scenic road.
If alterations to a scenic road are required, then they shall be planned with due regard to the following parameters:
Speed limits. Scenic values are correlated with lower speeds. The lower speed shall be posted and suitably enforced.
Curves. Scenic values are correlated with the existence of curves, which allow a constant unfolding of new and changing views. Curves shall not be eliminated until they are found to be a definite hazard within the concept of the specific road.
Grades. Hills and valleys are correlated with scenic values. They shall not be destroyed by cuts and fills unless absolutely essential for road safety.
Widths. A narrow road is correlated with high scenic beauty. Designated highways should not be widened unless the amount of traffic, as determined by a professionally based factual study, demands it. For some rural roads, the amount of traffic that can be handled can be greatly increased by wide bypasses and turnouts, constructed at intervals where they do least damage to scenic and other values.
Side slopes. Existing steepness of side slopes 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 groundcover, shrubs and trees.
Vistas. Vistas of distinctive landscapes shall be preserved by professional forestry management techniques.
Utility lines. Wherever possible, utility lines should be put underground. Where they are overhead, the Town should seek the cooperation of the utility corporations by implementing suitable vegetation management techniques which preserve the wild flowers and the shrubs.
Vegetation. Vegetation on the side of the road shall be managed in such a way as to preserve wild flowers, shrubs of ornamental wildlife values, larger trees overarching smaller, isolated trees, as well as closed forest canopies, all of which have extremely high scenic values.
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 topography, desirable features, and scenic and historic values in the public interest.
Any action under § 151-6, Subsections B, C, D and E, shall be taken in a manner which will avoid or reduce adverse effects on the characteristics of the designated highway specified in the decision designating it a scenic road. Any reconstruction of a designated highway shall be performed in similar manner with a view to restoring the road to the extent possible to its scenic character at the time of designation.
Paving criteria. Paving of the unpaved traveled portion of a scenic road shall be permitted if the owners of a majority of lot frontage along the unpaved portion of the road indicate their approval of the paving by signing a written statement agreeing to the paving and filing it with the Town Clerk or where the Town Plan and Zoning Commission with the advice of staff has made a determination that such pavement is required for safety purposes.
Rights of landowners.
Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to prohibit a person owning or occupying land abutting the highway or portion thereof designated as a scenic road by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission:
From maintaining and repairing the land which abuts the road so designated if the maintenance occurs on land not within the right-of-way, paved or unpaved, of the scenic road; or
From having access to his property by an otherwise appropriately authorized driveway or subdivision road encroachment within a scenic road right-of-way, provided that such encroachment is constructed so as to safeguard the road's scenic features as recorded by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission.
Nothing herein shall prohibit a landowner from permanently removing a portion of a stone wall in order to construct or improve a driveway or, in the case of a subdivision, to connect a subdivision road with a designated scenic road.
The Town Plan and Zoning Commission acting through its zoning enforcement official(s) shall enforce the chapter.
Violation of this chapter shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $100 per day for each day the violation continues, and such other legal remedies as may be available to the Commission. The hearing procedure for any citations issued for violations of this chapter shall be the procedure set forth in Chapter 91 of the Town of Farmington Town Code.