Committee Night

The old adage, “you win some, you lose some” seems to have morphed into “you lose some, you lose some.” Last night my Special Committee began presenting our revised Tree Preservation and Stone Wall Ordinances to the RTM Standing Committees for comment. With Julie DeMarco unable to attend her usual committee, I presented on her behalf prior to chairing and presenting to my own committee.

Legal & Administration had not had a proper presentation on either one during the first round back in January so I began from scratch. I got some good questions and some issues were raised that, surprisingly, the committee had never considered. I was amazed that after 8-9 months of meetings, there are still areas we somehow missed to explore. They were generally nice about it all so I that things were off to a good start.

At my Finance Committee, things went less well. In addition to some procedural questions, several of the committee got hung up on the word “flanking” and we got all bollixed up on whether or not a homeowner cold build a new stone wall in the Right of Way (final answer: no). Even the tree ordinance, the one we all thought would sail through, got some serious grilling.

After my committee adjourned, I headed over to Public Works & Planning to hear how it was going there. It was no surprise that the two ordinances were getting raked over the coals there. Our RTM Moderator, Joel Green, is also a lawyer, and he really went through the language, parsing things for clarity. Now of course, one member of the special committee is a lawyer and the assistant town attorney was intimately involved with crafting these current drafts but even so, another lawyer was shredding entire paragraphs.

Then, an outspoken member, who seemed to be on a crusade last night, began wondering why we were bothering at all with these three ordinances given how little public support there appears — beyond FPLAN. His point was that Fairfield is too large and too diverse for the historic look and feel to be truly representative of the town so while saddled all 57,000 people with ordinances that benefit a small section of the populace.

I have to admit to wondering if these will ever make it out of committee and ever get voted into existence. In all, it was a frustrating and disappointing committee night.