[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Simsbury as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
In recognition that land is a valuable resource to the town, that land use is important to the general welfare of town residents and that the opportunity to preserve land through acquisition and/or purchase of development rights occurs on an irregular basis, a fund for land acquisition and preservation is hereby established, pursuant to General Statutes §§ 7-131q(b) and 7-131r, as a fund balance for capital and nonrecurring expenditures.
The following definitions shall apply in the interpretation and enforcement of this chapter:
- The production, keeping or maintenance, for sale, lease or personal use, of plants and animals useful to man, including but not limited to forages and sod crops; grains and seed crops; dairy animals and dairy products; poultry and poultry products; livestock, including beef cattle, swine, horses, ponies, mules or goats, or any mutations or hybrids thereof, including the breeding or grazing of any and all of such animals; bees and apiary products; aquaculture; trees and forest products; fruits of all kinds, including grapes, nuts and berries; vegetables; nursery, floral, ornamental and greenhouse products; or lands devoted to a soil conservation or forestry management program.
- DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS
- Any rights or combination of rights to develop, construct on or otherwise improve land.
- Real property with or without improvements thereon located within the Town of Simsbury.
- An account established solely for the purposes of the acquisition of development rights or fee simple purchase of undeveloped or underdeveloped land.
- The Town of Simsbury.
For purposes of this chapter there may be established pursuant to Section 403 of the Town Charter an Open Space Committee (hereinafter referred to as "Committee") to assist the Board of Selectmen in administering the fund. If so established by appropriate resolution, the Committee shall consist of the First Selectman, Chairman of the Planning Commission, Chairman of the Conservation Commission, Chairman of the Zoning Commission, or their designees, and one other member to be appointed by the Board of Selectmen. The Committee shall establish rules of procedure for the conduct of its business.
The types of undeveloped or underdeveloped land, or development rights with respect to such land, to be considered by the Board of Selectmen for acquisition wholly or partially with moneys from the fund must be land or development rights the ownership of which would be consistent with the general purposes of this chapter. The Committee shall work with town staff and the Board of Selectmen to identify land or development rights for the purposes of this chapter. If requested by the First Selectman, the Committee may solicit potential sellers and may negotiate transactions to be recommended to the Board of Selectmen for approval for acquisition.
Land may be considered for acquisition and preservation, either in fee simple or through the acquisition of development rights. Priority shall be given to land parcels of scenic beauty, wildlife corridors, or agricultural significance.
The types of land for acquisition in fee simple by the Board of Selectmen may be:
Land that has passive or active recreational value as outlined in plan of development.
Land that will promote the preservation of forest land, or has significant scenic, topographic, conservation or wild life habitat, or value based on the characteristics of the land.
Land that has significant historical or archaeological value based on the character of the land and/or improvements thereon.
Land that will contribute toward the preservation of agriculture, promote agricultural land or has significant value as agricultural land based on its potential, customary or historical use.
The types of development rights to be considered for purchase by the Board of Selectmen 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 active or passive 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, particularly prime farmland soil, and/or contribute towards the preservation of agriculture in the town.
Development rights which will tend to promote orderly development of the town.
In considering the acquisition of a particular parcel of land in fee simple or certain development rights thereto, the Board of Selectmen may obtain written recommendations from town agencies, commissions, committees, the general public, state or federal agencies or any other source deemed to be relevant to this chapter.
Determination that a particular parcel of land or development rights thereto is to be acquired with moneys in the fund shall be made solely by the Board of Selectmen after recommendation from the Committee and by the Town Meeting if required by Section 503(h) of the Town Charter. Referral to the Simsbury Planning Commission shall be made pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes, § 8-24. The fund shall be administered by the First Selectman and appropriations made from the fund by the Board of Finance as directed by the Board of Selectmen in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and the Town Charter.
In preparing the annual town budget, the Board of Selectmen shall consider additions to the fund as part of its capital improvement program. The town shall also investigate on a continuing basis the availability of any state and federal money available for land acquisition and development rights. State and federal grants to the town for acquiring land consistent with this chapter may be deposited in the fund. Interest that accrues on the balance of the fund shall be deposited into the fund. Proceeds from the sale of town-owned real estate may be deposited into the fund.
Contributions to the fund shall be accepted from individuals, corporations, associations, partnerships and any other legal entities. Said contributions shall be used exclusively for the herein-stated purposes of the fund. Proceeds from the sale of municipal bonds shall not be deposited into the fund but may be used to supplement fund resources.
Any unencumbered funds from any source appropriate for the purpose set forth in this chapter prior to the adoption of this chapter may be transferred into the fund. Unencumbered proceeds from the sale of bonds shall not be transferred into the fund, unless the town's bond counsel approves such transfer.
If the fund is terminated for any reason, the balance remaining in the fund at the time of such termination shall be used exclusively for the benefit of the maintenance, improvement and upkeep of the town's parks, recreational areas and open space.
The following process shall be followed in the event that the Board of Selectmen desires to sell, transfer, assign, release or otherwise dispose of a parcel of Town-owned real estate designated as open space, or any interest designated as open space:
The Open Space Committee, the Culture, Parks and Recreation Commission and the Conservation Commission shall severally review and report to the Board of Selectmen on any proposed disposition of an interest in real estate. The failure of the Open Space Committee and/or the Commissions to report within 60 days after the date of official submission of the proposal to it for a report, unless that period is extended by the Board of Selectmen, shall be taken as approval of the proposal. In the case of the disapproval of the proposal by the Open Space Committee or either of the Commissions, the reasons therefor shall be recorded and transmitted to the Board of Selectmen.
The proposed disposition shall be subject to a public hearing before the Board of Selectmen and to review by the Planning and Zoning Commission pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 8-24.
The Board of Selectmen shall consider the following matters, among others in evaluating any proposed disposition.
Each property shall be assessed individually for suitability and/or desirability of disposition.
Any property conveyed may, where deemed appropriate, be conveyed subject to a conservation easement, restricting development. Any such conservation easement shall, where deemed practical, be transferred to an independent third party such as a land trust or similar organization.
Any property conveyed may, where deemed appropriate, be conveyed subject to a condition that any parcel to which it is appended not be permitted to be subdivided.
Any property conveyed may, where deemed appropriate, be conveyed subject to such retained rights, easements and interests as the Board of Selectmen deems to be in the best interest of the Town.
Any easement or other right of interest retained or otherwise acquired by the Town in connection with a disposal under this section shall itself thereafter be treated for purposes of this section as an interest in real estate designated as open space.
Any funds received from such conveyance should be applied to the Town's Open-Space Fund.