Special town meeting coming on Old Two Rod Highway

A special town meeting will be scheduled for the weeks ahead on the Planning and Zoning Commission’s July 25 recommendation to discontinue public roadway status for Old Two Rod Highway, a largely impassable, 33-foot-wide pathway.

The meeting will be conducted by the Board of Selectmen. The time and date will soon be announced. Neighbors affected by the change must first be notified, a spokesman for the selectmen’s office said.

Old Two Rod Highway is a dirt path which extends north from the dead end of Wampum Hill Road toward the old Gilbert & Bennett wire mill.

Commission members “found it had little-to-no impact on the town’s long-range plans for that part of the community,” said Bob Nerney, the town’s planning director, who had noted in a previous meeting that Old Two Rod Highway was designated a public road only by virtue of a court decision.

“The road to the best of our knowledge has never been developed,” Nerney said. “It’s heavily treed and topographically challenging, so I think the commission recognized that.”

The commission examined the question of Two Rod Highway under what is known as a Connecticut Statute 8-24 referral, which means the Board of Selectmen needed its opinion before moving ahead with the disposal of the town issue. It is an advisory recommendation.

Taxpayers were to have a say in the matter during a special town meeting Sept. 19, where any decision could be overridden by majority vote, but the meeting was postponed.

A few years ago, property owners Christopher Montanaro and Laurie Ann Deilus sued the town and the Aspetuck Land Trust to get access to a 9.8-acre parcel of land near the Wilton-Weston border, which could not be accessed by any direct right-of-way.

The duo sought a declaratory judgment that the road was a public road because they wanted access to the 9.8 acres, which they are looking to divide.

During legal proceedings, Montanaro argued Old Two Rod Highway is a public right-of-way, even though it has been effectively abandoned for at least 50 years. The courts agreed with Montanaro that it was a town road which had not been legally abandoned.

This left the town with the option of either leaving the road as is or discontinuing it — the latter of which “makes sense from a development standpoint” because it would allow anybody seeking access to develop it to “driveway-plus standards,” Associate Town Counsel Pat Sullivan said during the selectmen’s July 5 meeting.

Nerney told the Planning and Zoning Commission that discontinuing the road wouldn’t strip people’s rights to develop, but would instead observe the rights of the properties that are there.

By discontinuing the road, he said, the road “reverts back to the adjoining property owners on each side” and would be “put into private hands in terms of development and access.”

“The standards for driveways are far less restrictive than they are for roadways,” said Nerney. “I think the idea is to not take away development rights, but not to encourage overdevelopment that really, just really, cannot be accommodated in today’s conditions.”

Nerney said he is concerned that the perpetuation of land division on Old Two Rod Highway would lead homeowners in the area to turn to the town and request the road be built to town standards.

“I don’t think the town is in the position of spending a lot of money to build something that apparently has no developed use to it,” he said.