Ridgefield plans to purchase 18 acres of 'beautiful' land as open space to prevent development

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox
Ridgefield Town Hall

Ridgefield Town Hall

Macklin Reid/Hearst Connecticut Media

RIDGEFIELD —  The town has plans to purchase about 18 acres of land to be designated as open space. If approved, the $1.4 million purchase would add to the town's goal of having 30 percent of its land as open space. 

There's private interest in developing the property but the owners told the town it has the priority to buy the land first and deed restrict it as open space, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said. It would then be "open space in perpetuity forever," he said. 

"Our community has been developed over the years and we need to begin protecting those properties that we can pull in, that makes sense," he said  at a recent public hearing. 

The land, which totals 17.84 acres, is on West Mountain Road. Consisting of two parcels, the main parcel is across the street from Ridgefield Academy at 223 W. Mountain Road. The second parcel is down the street, near Aquarion Water Company's property line.

"It's where the pump house used to be when we got our water from Round Pond and adjacent to that property line from West Mountain Road, all the way back from Round Pond," Marconi said. 

If approved, the town will also get a trail that goes down to Round Pond, which is about 0.7 of an acre.

"It's a very narrow strip that goes from 102 West Mountain Road all the way north to Round Pond," Marconi said. 

The purchase price is $1.4 million. Al Garzi, Ridgefield 's town assessor, assessed the property and an appraisal is also being conducted.  

The town's Conservation Commission would contribute $250,000 toward the purchase. The other $1.15 million would be bonded over the next 20 years, Marconi said. Individual contributions to the purchase are allowed and welcomed, he added.

Selectman Sean Connelly agreed with the plan, saying there's not many plots of land like that one, that would contribute to the town's goal in its Plan of Conservation and Development to have 30 percent of its land as open space.

"There's not many opportunities and it's a beautiful open plot of land," Connelly said.

Twenty-six percent of the land in Ridgefield is designated open space. 

The property is owned by the Wittman family, Marconi said. It's "a beautiful old pasture," he said.

"Madeline Corbin, who was in our community, bought the old barn and converted it to her home. They have somewhat of a small farm going on. They have a cow and chickens and pigs and everything," Marconi said. "So they're tremendously excited about this."

The request was scheduled to go to the town's Board of Finance and Planning & Zoning Commission and then a special town meeting Dec. 19 for final approval. A separate meeting would be held to give the town's Conservation Commission jurisdiction over the land.