Conservation focus of new commission

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NAUGATUCK — The borough has a new commission to help improve its conservation of open spaces.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses approved an ordinance, 7-3, to create a new Conservation Commission March 18.

“I think it strengthens our land-use process. I think it strengthens our support for the environment, which we’ve all codified in an environmental stewardship pledge,” Mayor Robert Mezzo said.

The ordinance calls for a seven-member board, which would oversee and research issues related to open space and natural resources in the borough. The commission would have no authority to buy land or make final decisions as to what to do with land, according to the ordinance. Rather the commission would make recommendations to other borough boards.

This is the second time creating a Conservation Commission has come before the board. In 2012, the ordinance was rejected by a vote of 7-3 amidst concerns the commission might inhibit potential economic development of land.

Burgess Alex Olbrys questioned if a developer would have to go before the Conservation Commission with plans.

Mezzo said the commission would primarily exist to procure and make recommendations about open space as well as provide advice to other commissions. It would not hold any legal authority in the borough.

Burgess Michael Bronko, who voted against the ordinance, said creating the commission wouldn’t make any sense for the borough and put additional strain on the land use department.

“This commission is redundant. It creates another form of bureaucracy,” Bronko said. “Between all of our boards anything this commission could or would do is already being taken care of.”

Burgess Patrick Scully, who also voted against the ordinance, felt there would be too much duplication of work between the commissions.

“You’re covering almost every item the other boards already cover,” Scully said.

Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi disagreed. She said the commission’s first duty is to index all the open spaces in town, both publicly and privately own, which no other commission or branch of borough government does.

“I don’t see this as another layer. I don’t see this as being preventative or a hindrance to anyone else. I think this is a compliment,” Rossi said.

Burgess Robert Burns cast the third vote against the ordinance.

Mezzo pointed out that local municipalities, such as Beacon Falls, Seymour and Shelton, have conservation commissions.

“We took a pledge to respect the environment in this community,” Mezzo said. “A conservation commission is a very benign entity in support of those goals.”

The borough is now looking for volunteers interested in serving on the commission.