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Charter revisers vote down changes on wetlands board, police chief’s reporting

Splitting the Inland Wetlands Board from the Planning and Zoning Commission will not come before voters as a charter revision question in November. Neither will charter language establishing that the police chief, town planner and parks and recreation director must report to the first selectman, as well the separate commissions which oversee their departments’ work.

Both proposals — among the most argued over suggestions in this year’s charter revision process — were rejected by the Charter Revision commission Wednesday night.

While the Board of Selectmen will review the Charter Revision Commission’s proposals under the charter revision process set out in state statute, the selectmen have the power to cut change ideas from the charter commission’s recommendations, but not to add proposals. The selectmen will not be able to revive or add-back ideas the Charter Revision Commission dropped.

It was on a narrow 3-to-4 vote that the charter commission failed to pass a motion to pursue the change — push by the Conservation Commission and environmental activists — that would have separated regulation of activity in wetlands from the other land use duties of what has long been Ridgefield’s combined Planning and Zoning Commission and Inland Wetlands Board.

And it was by a unanimous vote that the Charter Revision Commission rejected the proposal, put forward by the Board of Selectman and vigorously opposed by the Police Commission and its supporters, and also opposed by the Planning and Zoning Commission, that would have had the charter require that the police chief, town planner and Parks and Recreation director “report” to the first selectman concerning day to day operations.

The change was proposed by the selectmen would have retained the oversight of the three officials by their relevant agencies, the Police Commission, Planning and Zoning Commission, and Parks and Recreation Commission.

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  • JS

    Having the PZ oversee wetlands is like having the fox watch the hen house.

    In addition, it is clearly not best practices and Ridgefield is an outlier with this structure.

    Why the Commission didn’t eliminate a potential conflict of interest and adopt best practices, is a mystery.

    Other than politics and power, there is no downside to having the Wetlands Board independent of the PZ….other than increased protection of Wetlands.

    The downside to having Wetlands as part of the PZ is that the conservation aspect can get influenced by the development aspect.

    My personal observation is that the PZ allows all types of wetlands issues through without adequate scrutiny or protective action.

    Too bad Ridgefield didn’t come down on the side of good governance.

  • Watching Closely

    I hope the BOS now uses their trump card. The BOS controls the purse strings. If the Police Department refuses to follow the wishes of the BOS and the people, slash the PD budget. Never again do I want to hear that the voters said no to new police cars and the PD bought them anyway.

  • common sense

    Closely- What is your source that the “people of Ridgefield want the PD to report to the BOS? Good idea to slash the PD budget, NOT. We will remind you of that when your house or car gets broken into or you have an emergency and the response is delayed due to not enough officers or vehicles to respond and you whine and moan about the inadequate response time.

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