Open Space: Ridgefield Tackling Boundary Violations
Ridgefield officials are taking action to address violations of open space, particularly by abutting landowners who some say treat the public land as if it were their own – and not too kindly, either. Illegal dumping, fencing off and, in at least one case, erecting a shed, are some of the violations noted by Conservation Commission members.
The Commission oversees some 2,500 acres of open around the town and officials say they spot a number of encroachments each year, most of which are settled in a friendly manner.
“We walk our boundaries and often it’s brought to our attention by neighbors,” Commission Chairman Carroll Brewster said. “A lot of them are innocent. Someone is just mistaken about a boundary and that kind of thing. And some of them, I think, have required a little more forceful action from us.”
Action by commission back to top
That forceful action may include codifying the protocol the Commission uses when it has to address the encroachment. Brewster says the Commission has gone to the town attorney for advice, support and ultimately a letter to send to the alleged trespasser warning him or her of a fine.
The Commission recently asked the Board of Selectmen to make “perfectly clear” the procedure by which it seeks the advice of the town counsel. The town attorney works with a variety of town departments, but mainly reports to the First Selectman. The town attorney is usually the last resort to addressing the trespassers, Brewster says.
“Normally we ask the property owner please to refrain from fencing or dumping or clearing or whatever else on public land. And normally the landowner will pull right back, and that’s that,” Brewster said. “In cases where that’s not been as easy to accomplish we’ve been having to go to town counsel and he then takes the matter over.”