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Chapter 8 - Open Spaces and Recreation Areas
        CHAPTER VIII - OPEN SPACES AND RECREATION AREAS




SECTION 1.  DISPOSITION

For any subdivision of land under these Regulations, the Commission may require of the subdivider the disposition and official dedication of appropriately located and sized open space or recreation areas.  For the purpose of this Chapter VIII, "open space or recreation areas" shall be defined to include, but not be limited to:  areas left in their natural, undisturbed state;  agricultural land for which development rights have been assigned or otherwise alienated in perpetuity; areas and facilities for non_commercial, non_profit recreation; and similar areas for wildlife habitat, passive and active recreation, groundwater recharge, scenic preservation, and the like.  In determining the appropriateness of an open space and/or recreation area disposition, the Commission shall consider Plan of Development objectives and map designations and the subject site's characteristics with respect to the following objectives:  The conservation and protection of wildlife and natural or scenic resources including lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, streambelts, inland wetlands, aquifers, significant woodlands, ridges, ravines, ledge cutcroppings and other unusual physical features; the protection of historic or archeological sites; the expansion of existing open space and recreational areas and the meeting of neighborhood and/or community_wide recreational needs.  In determining the location of open space, the Commission may consider potential for combination with existing or proposed open space on adjoining properties owned by any public or private institution.

SECTION 2.  SIZE

Where open space and/or recreation area disposition is deemed appropriate, the size of the required areas shall be determined by the Commission based on the site's value and importance in meeting the objectives cited in Section 8.1 and the scope of the subdivision proposal.  Required open space and/or recreation areas may be up to fifteen (15%) percent of the property under consideration.  In determining the total land to be reserved as open space or recreation land, the Commission may consider not only the tract or tracts of land to be immediately subdivided, but also any other adjacent tract or tracts owned, controlled or under agreement to buy or optioned by the subdivider.  Areas to be reserved as open space and/or recreation land shall be shown on the subdivision map.  This provision shall apply to subdivisions of more than three (3) lots or twenty (20) acres or more, irrespective of the number of lots.

SECTION 3.  SITES OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE

In all subdivisions of five (5) acres or more, all applicants shall make written inquiry of the State Archaeologist to determine if there is evidence of sites of archaeological significance within the subdivision.  Any significant sites shall, where possible, be left undisturbed and may be considered in meeting the minimum open space requirements of this Chapter.

SECTION 4.  METHOD OF DISPOSITION

The Commission shall determine the most appropriate method of disposition after considering, among other things, the relationship of the subject area(s) and its specific characteristics to the Plan of Development and the objectives cited in Section 8.1; the desirability and suitability of public access and use and the scope of the subdivision proposal.  The following disposition option may be utilized by the Commission:

a)      Perpetual dedication to the Town.

b)      Perpetual dedication to the State of Connecticut.

c)      Perpetual dedication to a land trust (at the option of the subdivider).

d)      Dedication to a homeowners' association (see, Section 8.7).

e)      Utilization of conservation easement(s), with or without public access.

f)      Utilization of a recreation easement.

g)      Private ownership with the appropriate taking of development rights.

h)      Any combination of the above or any suitable alternative approved by the Commission.

Any conservation easements or other open space covenants or restrictions shall be subject to the approval of the Commission in form and content.

SECTION 5.  REFERRALS

The Commission may refer for review and comment any subdivision plan and proposal for the provision of open spaces and/or recreation land to the Conservation Commission, Recreation Commission, Tolland County Soil and Water Conservation District, or any other appropriate agency.

SECTION 6.  CONDITION OF OPEN SPACES AND/OR RECREATION LAND

Open space and/or recreation areas shall typically abut or have direct public access to a public street and, as appropriate, any existing park or public land.  All such areas shall include access roadways to be graded and improved in a manner suitable for safe pedestrian and vehicular traffic.  Access roadways shall have an adequate base, shall be adequately drained and shall typically be twenty (20') feet wide and have a slope no greater than twelve (12%) percent.

Land to be provided as open space for the purpose of conservation and protection of wildlife and natural or scenic resources shall typically be left in a natural state by the subdivider.  Except for improvement as may be required by the Commission, open space areas shall not be graded, cleared, or used as a repository for brush, stumps, earth, building materials or debris.  The Commission may require that any land to be dedicated for recreational use be cleared of brush, trees and debris; be graded to properly dispose of surface water; be covered with organic topsoil to a depth of four (4") inches; be seeded with low maintenance grass seed and be otherwise improved so that the land is left in a condition appropriate to the intended use.  The Commission need not accept land composed entirely or substantially of inland wetlands in satisfaction of the requirements of this Chapter, unless it considers such areas to have special habitat or other environmental value.

When site improvements are required, they shall be clearly shown on the final subdivision maps or alternatively on a separate site improvements plan and they shall be approved by the Commission prior to the filing of the subdivision plan.

SECTION 7.  ENFORCEMENT BONDING

To ensure proper construction of any required Improvements, the Commission shall require the subdivider to post a performance bond in an amount and with terms acceptable to the Commission.  Unless modified by the Commission in accordance with Chapter X of these Regulations, all required Improvements of open space and/or recreation land shall be completed prior to the occupancy of fifty (50%) percent of the dwellings within the subdivision.

SECTION 8.  HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATION

The Commission may, upon the request of the subdivider, permit the owner_ ship and maintenance of the open space and/or recreation area to be transferred to an association of property owners.  Such transfer shall be in accordance with standards established by the Commission to include, but not be limited to, the following which:

a)      Establishes a mandatory participation in an association of property owners to maintain the land reservation for open space park and playground purposes, with power to assess all members for all necessary costs.

b)      Will be binding on all future property owners.

c)      Will be perpetual.

d)      Will not be affected by any change in zoning or land use.

e)      Will assure adequate maintenance.

f)      May be enforced by the Town by appropriate legal action.

g)      Shall provide that if maintenance or preservation of the dedication no longer comply with the provisions of the document, the Town may take all necessary action to assure compliance and assess against the association all costs incurred by the Town for such purposes.

After approval by the Town Attorney and Commission, said document shall be filed by the subdivider in the Office of the Town Clerk.

SECTION 9.  LEGAL TRANSFERAL

Properly executed legal documents, including warranty deeds for any title transferals, shall be prepared in accordance with the provision of this section and shall be submitted in triplicate with the final subdivision map to be filed.  All documents must be acceptable to the Town Attorney and Planning Staff and shall refer to the subdivision maps by title.  All warranty deeds for dedication of land to the Town shall be held in escrow by the Commission to be recorded on the Town Land Records upon acceptance by the Board of Selectman.  In the event that acceptance is rejected by the Board of Selectman, the deed shall be returned and the subdivider shall return to the Commission for determination of an alternative means of preserving the open space and/or recreation areas.  In no case, shall the acceptance of any deed by the Commission or an employee of the Town be deemed as acceptance of the open space and/or recreation area by the Town.

SECTION 10.  DEDICATION FOR OTHER MUNICIPAL PURPOSES

In the event the subdivider desires to transfer to the Town land for other municipal purposes such as future schools, fire houses, etc., the dedication provisions of this Regulation shall be complied with.  The Commission may consider such a municipal dedication as a credit toward any open space and/or recreational area disposition requirements.

SECTION 11.  PAYMENT OF FEE IN LIEU OF OPEN SPACE

In accordance with Connecticut General Statutes §8_25, as amended by Public Act 90_239, Section 1, the Commission may authorize a subdivider to pay a fee to the Town of Willington in lieu of the disposition of land by one of the methods set forth in Section 8.3 hereinabove.  Such authorization may be granted by the Commission if and when it determines, in its sole discretion, that there are inadequate areas on the subdivision which merit preservation by one of the methods set forth in Section 8.3, or that there are other areas in the Town of Willington where preservation would be more beneficial to the public health, safety and welfare.  In the event that such authorization is granted by the Commission, such payment or combination of payment and the fair market value of land transferred shall be equal to not more than ten (10%) percent of the fair market value of the land to be subdivided prior to the approval of the subdivision.  The fair market value shall be determined by an appraiser jointly selected by the Commission and the subdivider.  A fraction of such payment, the numerator of which is one and the denominator of which is the number of approved lots in the subdivision, shall be made at the time of the sale of each approved lot in the subdivision and placed in a fund.  Such fund shall be used solely for the purpose of preserving open space or acquiring additional land for open space or for recreational or agricultural purposes.  The said payment obligation shall be secured by a lien against each lot in the subdivision which shall be filed at the time that the final subdivision plans are filed in the Office of the Town Clerk, in accordance with Section II.3(h) of these Regulations.  The said lien shall be in a form approved by the Commission, and shall be unencumbered by any mortgage or encumbrance having priority over said lien, as evidenced by a Certificate of Title, in accordance with Section II.3(h) of these Regulations.

SECTION 12.     EXEMPTIONS FROM FEE IN LIEU OFOPEN SPACE DISPOSITION REQUIREMENTS

In accordance with Public Act 90_239, Section 1, the provisions of Section 11 of this Chapter VIII shall not apply if:

a)      The transfer of all land in a subdivision of less than five (5) lots is to a parent, child, brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, or first cousin of the property owner for no consideration.  Such intended transfer shall be evidenced by covenants, restrictions, contracts, or other legally binding documents as the Commission may approve, which documents shall be filed in the Land Records in accordance with the procedure and other requirements of Section II.3.(h) of these Regulations.  If the Commission deter_ mines, based on events subsequent to the approval of such subdivision, that such transfers were intended to be temporary, and for the sole purpose of evading the requirements of this Chapter VIII, the Commission may void the subdivision in accordance with Chapter XI, Section 2 of these Regulations.

b)      The subdivision is to contain affordable housing, as defined in Section 8_39a of the Connecticut General Statutes, equal to twenty (20%) percent or more of the total housing to be constructed in such subdivision.  Such restrictions for affordable housing shall be evidenced by such documents as the Commission may require, and such restrictions shall run with the lots affected thereby in perpetuity.  If, subsequent to approval of the Subdivision, the lots designated for affordable housing shall not be sold for that purpose, the Commission may void those subdivision lots in accordance with Chapter XI, Section 2 of these Regulations.