Selectmen Briefs: Blight, appointments, gifts and more
The following items were discussed and voted on at the Jan. 7 Board of Selectmen meeting.
The board unanimously approved a policy that will allow the town’s blight enforcement officers, in consultation with the Board of Selectmen and town attorney, to commence foreclosure actions for any outstanding blight judgment lien that has been recorded on a property for one year.
The policy was sent to to town counsel for review after the board’s last meeting at which Selectwoman Deborah McFadden asked for more steps to be added to the process.
Vanderslice said town counsel Mario Coppola advised the board not to add additional steps because because it would complicate the policy.
McFadden acknowledged she made a mistake at the last meeting when she said the town had evicted someone from a property for not paying taxes who was then made homeless. She said it wasn’t the town responsible for the eviction. The town auctioned the property and it was the new owner who evicted the tenant.
Support request for land trust purchase
The board was asked for support by the Wilton Land Conservation Trust for a state grant it has applied for to purchase the property at 183 Ridgefield Road. The land trust is under contract to purchase the property for $2,050,000 from the Foster Foundation, but the purchase is contingent on getting the state grant.
In October 2018, the land trust launched a campaign to raise funds to purchase the property. Once it is acquired, the trust plans to partner with the Wilton Historical Society, the Woodcock Nature Center, and the American Chestnut Foundation to establish educational programs on the site.
Donna Merrill, executive director of the land trust, told the selectmen the grant is competitive so it is highly significant to have letters of support from municipal officials. The land trust is applying for 65% of the purchase price, $1,332,500, the maximum allowable by the state grant. Merrill said the state may decide to grant the full amount or a portion of the request. Or it may reject the request.
The grant requires matching funds and the land trust has gotten a number of pledges from the community and she believes the trust will have an adequate match for the purchase.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said she would like to review the grant application to see what components are in it, particularly regarding any possible creation of trails to connect the property to Wilton Center. Merrill said the land trust is in the process of writing the narrative of the grant application and the trails are not clearly defined at this time.
Before issuing a letter of support, the board asked the land trust to submit a copy of its application so the selectmen can review it at its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
Right of first refusal
The board reviewed a right of first refusal request for the purchase of a 0.08 acre state right of way in front of the Gulf Station at 300 Danbury Road.
The state is selling the property for $125,000 and the town has the right of first refusal if it wants to purchase it.
Vanderslice says the town has no need for the property. The board voted unanimously to decline the option to purchase the property.
The board approved the following appointments:
- Richard Hubli was appointed to the Energy Commission.
- Ross Tartell was re-appointed to the Fire Commission.
- Ceci Maher was appointed as the Board of Finance representative to the Pension Trustees Committee.
Fire Department gift
The board approved a $350 gift from Zachary and Ruth Sachs to the Wilton Fire Department Gift Fund.