[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of North Branford 4-17-1996 as Ord. No. 204. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Open space areas within the Town of North Branford have been and continue to be a diminishing resource, and such open space areas are considered a valuable asset to the community. It is recognized that there is a need to obtain additional open space areas in order to meet future recreational needs, to preserve agricultural lands, to protect natural resource areas and to maintain the town's quality of life. The establishment of an Open Space Trust Fund will permit the acquisition of land and/or purchase of development rights for areas identified in the plan of development, open space plan and other recreation and conservation planning documents.
The following definitions shall apply in the interpretation of this chapter:
- AGRICULTURAL LAND
- Any land in the town suitable by reference to soil types, existing and past use of such land for agricultural purposes and other relevent factors for the cultivation of plants for production of human food and fiber or production of other useful and valuable plant products and for production of animals, livestock and poultry useful to man and the environment and land capable of providing economically profitable farm units, which may include adjacent pastures, woodland, natural drainage areas and other adjacent open areas.
- A legal authorization granted by the Town Council and/or the Annual Town Meeting to make expenditures and to incur obligations for specific purposes.
- DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS
- The right or combination of rights of fee simple owners of open, unimproved, forest and agricultural land to develop, construct on, sell, lease or otherwise develop or improve such land for uses that result in rendering such land no longer open, unimproved, forest or agricultural. The acquisition of development rights is not intended to prevent any development of the land to which the development rights relate, provided that such development is consistent with the public purpose for which such development rights are purchased, and provided that such development is permitted, pursuant to a written document approved by the Town Council.
- Any corridor of open space that protects natural resources and/or provides recreation. Greenways can be located along a waterway or other defining feature, such as a ridgeline, or along a man-made corridor, such as an abandoned right-of-way, abandoned town road, a woods road or a barge canal. It can be a green space along a highway or around a village. Greenways can provide the vital missing links to connect existing protected areas and to give people convenient access to the outdoors. A greenway can be as wide as a river valley or as narrow as an abandoned rail bed.
- LAND PRESERVATION COMMITTEE
- The Town Council shall establish a Land Preservation Committee to
be composed of five members and two alternates. The membership of the Committee
shall be composed of two members of the Town Council and four electors. At
least two electors on the Committee shall be from each district. There shall
also be appointed two alternates. This Committee will be responsible for the
preservation of agricultural and open space in town, for the review and selection
of agricultural and open space and for making recommendations to the Town
Council for the land and for expenditures of any funds from the Open Space
Trust Fund. Said Committee is to prepare a mission statement for presentation
back to the Town Council for approval.[Amended 6-1-1999 by Ord. No. 216; 12-12-2000 by Ord. No. 222]
- OPEN SPACE LAND
- Any area of land, including forest land, land designated as wetland under C.G.S. Section 22a-3 and farmland, the preservation or restriction of the use which would:
- A. Maintain and enhance the conservation of natural or scenic resources;
- B. Protect natural streams or water supply;
- C. Promote conservation of soils, wetland, beaches or tidal marshes;
- D. Enhance the value to the public of abutting or neighboring parks, forests, wildlife preserves, nature reservations or sanctuaries or other open spaces;
- E. Enhance public recreation opportunities;
- F. Preserve historic sites; or
- G. Promote orderly urban or suburban development.
- OPEN SPACE PLAN
- A plan or plans prepared by the Conservation Commission, pursuant to C.G.S. Section 7-131a, and/or prepared/assisted by the Planning and Zoning Commission, Recreation Commission or special advisory committee.
- PAYMENT OF FEE IN LIEU OF OPEN SPACE
- A funding option, pursuant to C.G.S. Section 8-25, as amended by Public Act 90-239, Section I. The Planning and Zoning Commission may authorize a subdivider to pay a fee into an Open Space Trust Fund administered by the Town of North Branford in lieu of the disposition of land, as set forth in the North Branford Subdivision Regulations.
- PLAN OF DEVELOPMENT
- A plan or plans prepared by the Planning and Zoning Commission, pursuant to C.G.S. Section 8-23.
The types of land to be considered for acquisition by the Open Space Committee must be:
Land that is agricultural land, as recommended in the plan of development or open space plans;
Land that has recreational value, as recommended in the recreation and/or open space plan component of the plan of development;
Land that has development value for town buildings, such as schools or municipal facilities;
Land that has significant scenic, topographic, conservation or natural resource value based on the characteristics of the land; or
Land that has significant historical archaeological value based on the character of the land and/or improvements thereon.
The types of development rights to be considered for purchase by the Open Space Committee must be consistent with the general purpose of this chapter and may include one or more of the following:
Development rights which will tend to maintain and enhance the conservation of natural or scenic resources.
Development rights which will tend to protect natural topography, streams or water supply.
Development rights which will tend to enhance public recreation opportunities.
Development rights which will tend to protect historical or archaeological sites.
Development rights which will tend to promote conservation of agricultural soils, partially prime farmland soil.
Development rights which will tend to contribute towards and preservation of agriculture in town.
Development rights which will tend to promote orderly development of the town.
Development rights which will tend to promote certain publicly desirable uses of land, expected at the present time to include agricultural, forest and natural uses.
In considering the acquisition of a particular parcel of land or certain development rights thereto, the Open Space Committee may obtain written recommendations from:
The Planning and Zoning Commission as to the recommendation of the plan of development and other open space/farmland preservation reports.
The Superintendent of Schools as to the development value of the land as a school.
The Town Manager as to the development value of the land as a municipal facility.
The Conservation Commission and Totoket Historical Society as to the value of the land as a scenic, archaeological or historic site.
The Recreation Commission as to the recreational value.
The Agricultural Advisory Committee as to the agricultural value.
A statement from any other advisory committee whose opinion is deemed appropriate by the Open Space Committee.
The Open Space Committee shall hold one or more informational public hearings regarding the acquisition of a particular parcel of land(s) or the development rights thereto.
When a public informational hearing is to be held, the Open Space Committee shall cause notice to be published at least five days prior to said public hearing in a newspaper having substantial circulation in town.
Prior to final action, a referral to the Planning and Zoning Commission shall be made, pursuant to C.G.S. Section 8-24.
Upon determination that a particular parcel of land(s) or development rights thereto is to be acquired with moneys in the fund, the Open Space Committee shall, by resolution, take formal action to so recommend it to the Town Council.
The fund shall be administered by the Town Manager, as directed by the Town Council.
In preparing the annual town budget, the Town Council shall consider additions to the fund as part of its capital improvements program. The town shall also investigate, on a continuing basis, the availability of any state and federal moneys available for land acquisition and development rights.
Payments received in lieu of open space, pursuant to C.G.S. Section 8-25 and as amended by Public Act 90-239, Section I, is a funding option.
Contributions to the reserve shall be accepted from individuals, corporations, associations, partnerships and any other legal entities. Said contributions shall be used exclusively for the hereinstated purposes of the fund.