Selectmen re-appoint three to Conservation Commission

Three members of the Conservation Commission — Jack Kace, Eric Beckenstein and Chairman Jim Coyle — have been appointed to new terms by unanimous votes of the Board of Selectmen.

Kace was re-appointed at the selectmen’s April 18 meeting.

“I support the commission’s mission: caring for and acquisition of open space, and advising Planning and Zoning and Inland Wetlands on ways to continue development while protecting Ridgefield’s natural resources,” he wrote to the selectmen.

In an interview April 18, Kace said he supported the proposal the Charter Revision Commission is considering to separate the Inland Wetlands Board from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“I don’t think we’re protecting the inland wetlands adequately,” he said.

The Conservation Commission’s recommendations on development proposals aren’t ignored — but they aren’t exactly followed, either, he said.

It seems like every recommendation we make is based on best practices from communities around Ridgefield,” Kace said. “I’d say in 95% of cases, they come back with something less than that, and say it’s a compromise.

“They’re improving the situation from what it was,” he said. “But they never go quite up to that standard.”

Coyle and Beckenstein were re-appointed at the selectmen’s April 4 meeting.

“My last two years on the commission, including a year and a half as chairman, have been a wonderful experience for me,” Coyle wrote to the selectmen.

He listed some accomplishments by the commission during his two years serving on it:

  • Publication of the 2016 Walk Book of open spaces.
  • Passage of a revised open space ordinance “with provisions for tackling open space violations.”
  • Expansion of agricultural activities at McKeon Farm, including installation of a well with federal grant money.
  • Creation of a maintenance manual for open spaces.
  • Open space trail maintenance, “including the cleanup of 45 trees.”
  • Partnerships with outside groups ranging from the New England Mountain Bike Association, which helped build new trails, to the Woodcock Nature Center, which collaborated with the commission on a study of vernal pools.

At the meeting, Coyle reiterated his enthusiasm for the commission.

“I really work with a wonderful group of people,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier than working with this group of people.”

In his letter, Beckenstein said he was proud to have helped research the new open space ordinance, with its strengthened measures against open space violations.

“Personally viewing violations sites and helping document incidents with photographs — for example, tree cutting on town land — has enabled me to truly understand the importance of this work,” he said.

Beckenstein also appeared before the selectman April 4, neatly summarizing the reason for he enjoyed serving on the commission.

“I feel like we’re busy, and we’re doing good stuff,” he said.