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State, Town Look at Conservation Option for Bristol’s Farm

January 14, 2016 Environment, Government No Comments
Photo by John Fitts

Photo by John Fitts

By John Fitts

The town of Canton and the state of Connecticut are looking at the possibility of purchasing development rights for 30.3 acres at Bristol’s Farm along Route 44.

Purchasing development rights is a way to prevent or restrict development but allow a family to continue to own and work the land.

The Board of Selectmen discussed the issue briefly Wednesday night as Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner mentioned the possibility of applying for a federal grant under the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a program of the United States Department of Agriculture.

That grant, for which an application is due soon, would provide 50 percent of the estimated “fair market value,”  with the rest split between the state Department of Agriculture and the town. Without federal funding, the town would likely be responsible for at least 55 percent of the cost for development rights, Skinner said.

Selectman Tom Sevigny said there has been pressure from housing developers.

A state appraisal has valued the rights at approximately $300,000 but the number has not been negotiated, Skinner said. Officials also said the process is in preliminary stages.

Initially he had planned to bring up the issue at a future meeting but the federal grant application is due Jan. 15, Skinner said.

With concurrence needed from the Bristol family, it’s possibly the grant might not be filed in time, said Skinner, who added that he still wanted the board’s approval to apply should all the pieces fall into place. He added that it would not obligate the town to move forward.

Selectmen unanimously concurred to have Skinner apply for the federal grant if the information comes together in time.

Witkos Proposes Constitutional Amendment as Way to Protect State’s Open Space

January 14, 2016 Environment, Government No Comments
State Sen. Kevin Witkos and David K. Leff, town historian and former Deputy Commissioner of the CT Department of Environmental Protection. Photo courtesy of Kevin Witkos’ staff.

State Sen. Kevin Witkos and David K. Leff, town historian and former Deputy Commissioner of the CT Department of Environmental Protection.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Witkos’ staff.

Idea Would Make it More Difficult for State to Sell Protected Land

HARTFORD — Working off an idea presented by David K. Leff, Canton town historian and former deputy commissioner for the state Department of Environmental Protection, state Sen. Kevin Witkos has proposed a constitutional amendment to protect state land.

The proposed amendment, which has strong support from park and land preservation groups, would allow the state to sell or swap open space property owned by taxpayers only after a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the General Assembly on a stand-alone measure detailing the deal, CTNewsJunkie.com reports.

See their full story here.

Officials Explore Idea of Rebuilding at Current Public Works Site While Improving River Access, Amenities

A preliminary concept for rebuilding at the current Public Works site near the Farmington River.

The town’s preliminary concept for rebuilding at the current Public Works site near the Farmington River, while improving recreational amenities and allowing space for potential future expansion of the neighboring Water Pollution Control Facility.

By John Fitts 

CANTON — While it would involve a smaller footprint than the town sought in recent referenda, town officials are exploring the idea of constructing a new public works facility at the current site, with a new access road from Route 179 and recreational improvements for the Farmington River Trail and access to the Farmington River.

Town officials, including Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner, Public Works Director Robert Martin and Project Administrator George M. Wallace presented the preliminary idea to the Board of Selectman on Wednesday night and will next gauge reaction from regulatory boards such as Planning and Zoning and the Inland Wetlands Watercourse agency.

The idea would be to build a two-story, nearly 15,000-square-foot main building closer to Route 179, an approximate 1,500 square-foot salt shed, while constructing the new access road, improving the softball field at the site, improving river access, adding parking for recreation and perhaps utilizing the old “horse barn” that serves as much of the current facility for public restrooms and potentially other amenities.  … Continue Reading

Canton Land Trust To Host Annual Moonlight Hike on Jan. 30 (New Date)

January 6, 2016 Community, Environment No Comments
A scene from last year's hike. Photo by William Duncan

A scene from last year’s hike.
Photo by William Duncan

Rescheduled to Jan. 30

Submitted Release 

The Canton Land Conservation Trust invites people of all ages to its annual moon-and-candle-lit hike through forests and fields, followed by a hot meal, cocoa and roaring fire, on Sat. Jan. 23 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Hikers will begin at the Breezy Hill Farm Preserve and follow a luminaria-lined trail leading the way to a horse barn for a festive gathering, chili dinner and other refreshments.

There is no charge, although donations to the Land Trust are greatly appreciated. The Land Trust will provide chili and hot cocoa, and hikers are invited to bring side dishes or desserts to share.

The trail will be packed down, but winter footwear or snowshoes are suggested. The Land Trust asks that you leave your dogs at home this time. Carpooling is encouraged. … Continue Reading

Images of Canton: Land Trust Christmas Tree Sale

December 6, 2015 Community, Environment No Comments
Shane Leadbetter, 6, does his part to carry some branches to the car after his family picked out a tree on Sunday.  Photo by John Fitts

Shane Leadbetter, 6, does his part to carry some branches to the car after his family picked out a tree on Sunday.
Photo by John Fitts

After a several-year hiatus, the Canton Land Conservation Trust Christmas Tree Sale returned Sunday.

For the one-day event, the trust offered several 6- and 7-foot trees, as well as a few of the self described “Charlie Brown” types at the Smith Christmas Farm on Doyle Road.

The tree farm, comprising on more than 64 acres, was given to the land trust in 1975 and represented the organization’s first major land holding, according to a press release from the Canton Land Conservation Trust.  … Continue Reading

Canton Commemorates its Constitution Oak

Canton officials unveiled a new sign marking the town's Constitution Oak. Photo by John Fitts

Canton officials unveiled a new sign marking the town’s Constitution Oak.
Photo by John Fitts

By John Fitts 

Set right next to a busy thoroughfare, few in town were likely aware of Canton’s Constitution Oak — at least until this week.

With the idea of highlighting and protecting the tree, town officials gathered at 66 Maple Ave. Thursday afternoon to unveil a sign commemorating its historical significance.

The tree has been in town since 1902, when it was planted as one of 168 pin oaks given to the state’s constitutional convention delegates, according to town historian David K. Leff. In Canton that delegate was Edward H. Sears, president of the Collins Company factory in Collinsville.

“I think it’s important we’re recognizing this tree, mainly because our history is what ties us together as a community,” Leff said. … Continue Reading

Canton Land Trust Christmas Tree Sale Is Back

November 23, 2015 Community, Environment No Comments
The "perfect" tree.

The “perfect” tree.

Submitted Release 

A Canton holiday tradition returns.  The Canton Land Conservation Trust has announced that it has a limited number of Christmas trees available for cutting this year at the Smith Christmas Tree Farm on Doyle Road.  The event will be held one day only: Sun. Dec. 6 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This traditional event used to be held annually but has not been offered in the last few years due to a shortage of trees and deer damage.  This year, though, there are a small number of “perfect” trees in the 6’ to 7-foot range, a number of beautiful larger trees, and several trees whose tops will make perfect shorter trees once they are cut off.  There are also some very attractive “Charlie Brown” trees that are ideal for room corners.  And there is one magnificent large tree that is not available for cutting: “We’re reserving that one for Rockefeller Center in a future year,” said CLCT Board Member Anne Duncan.   Prices vary from $25 – $40, and Land Trust volunteers will be available to cut the trees in the field.  … Continue Reading

Wild and Scenic Designation for Lower Farmington One Step Closer to Passage

November 19, 2015 Environment No Comments

Submitted Release from the office on Sen. Murphy

WASHINGTON – On Thursday , U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) applauded the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for passing hisLower Farmington River and Salmon Brook Wild and Scenic River Act – legislation to create a U.S. National Park Service protective designation for the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook – through committee. The bill will now awaits passage in the Senate. … Continue Reading

‘Satan’s Kingdom’ Property Changes Hands

A portion of the Satan's Kingdom site along Route 44 in Canton.

A portion of the Satan’s Kingdom site along Route 44 in Canton.

By John Fitts 

Members of a well known Canton family have purchased the “Satan’s Kingdom” property along Route 44 on which Torrington developer Allan Borghesi had once proposed to build an industrial park spanning Canton and New Hartford.

Earlier this month, New Hartford Marketplace, LLC, of which Henry J. Bahre, John H. Bahre and Daniel K. Bahre are members, purchased the property, which includes more than 50 acres of land in Canton and New Hartford, from Satan’s Kingdom, LLC., managed by Borghesi. The sale, one of two main property exchanges between the parties, also included some easements and minor lot line adjustments with a neighboring landowner. Paperwork from both towns indicates that the total price was $700,000.

Borghesi’s  proposal to change the zoning on the property from residential to industrial was granted for the New Hartford portion but, after much controversy, he withdrew a similar application in Canton. He later informally discussed a plan for housing but never actually applied for such a use.  … Continue Reading

Kids Stand Up for the Farmington River

Photo courtesy of Mary Ellen Mullins.

Photo courtesy of Mary Ellen Mullins.

(Contributed) — It’s amazing how well you can see the bottom of the Farmington River when you are standing on a Paddle Board.  From day one of a weeklong Stand Up Paddle Board program, at Collinsville Canoe and Kayak, it was clear that the kids ranging from ages 11-15 were special.  While paddling they couldn’t help but notice the abandoned flip flop, solo cup, soda or beer can.  In between water games and paddling they began to collect what they did not want to see amongst the natural beauty of the clear river.   By the end of the first day they had filled a heavy duty garbage bag with some very interesting stuff.

However, what they found most baffling was the amount of tires at the bottom of the river.  This group of adventurous, intelligent kids decided that they wanted to continue to do their part to clean up the river.

Day 2, they collaborated and made it their mission to get rid of some of the tires.  One by one they pulled up tires and placed them on their boards to discard in the dumpster of the Canoe and Kayak Store.  Yes, they still splashed around and played games but they always went back to the task of cleaning up the river.  What sparked their interest the most was some very large tractor tires.  Day 3, the dilemma was how to dispose of these very large tires.  … Continue Reading

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