The Demolition Derby

The RTM Sub Committee met again last night and we spent another two-plus hours digging through the need for ordinances and the like. Once again, I came away with the pleased feeling that our town departments are committed people, willing to share their knowledge and opinions. Fairfield residents don’t realize how fortunate they are to have so many long-serving town officials, who have a collective race memory that helps the town plan and grow.

So, last night we tackled the issue of Demolition Delays. The idea here is to make certain that historic structures are not taken down without due consideration or that neighbors have sufficient warning to voice any safety concerns. Many towns have the ordinance and from what we saw from samples around New England, it made a lot of sense.

Until we spoke with Jim Gilleran. Jim strongly opposed the delay simply because there are enough checks and delays built into the Demolition Application that follows both state and local guidelines. Turns out there are a laundry list of departments and services that need to sign off in addition to adjoining home owners needing notice by registered mail. We debated whether or not historic homes were suitably protected under these guidelines and based on Jim’s experiences, we were well served. We were rather surprised, then, to learn Jim had not been asked before the Blue Ribbon Task Force whose report led to our sub committee being created.

When he was done, we reviewed where we were and how we were to proceed with our assistant town attorney, Eileen Kennelly. She provided some much needed guidance especially since Paul Fattibene once more raised the issue of what exactly our charge as a committee was. This was something I thought we discussed and disposed of at our July 24 meeting but he still had it on his mind. Eileen looked over Julie DeMarco’s draft for a stone wall ordinance, which once more led us along a merry discussion about the need for that or the tree ordinance – both of which I had thought we settled at the last meeting.

Our night ended with a review of calendars and some determination for the number of meetings we need to complete our work. With RTM business once more consuming two of our Mondays each month, we’re switching to Wednesdays for the end of September through October with the hopes of being done before Halloween.

My personal guess is that we’ll wind up writing and submitting several ordinances, none of which will contain the scope that the Blue Ribbon Task Force might have envisioned, largely because they seem not to be needed, nor do we feel it necessary to further hem in what home owners can and cannot do on their properties. I’ll say for our band of legislators, we’re asking good questions and listening to each other with great interest and respect.

One comment

  • This is one of those “invisible” things that people don’t think about until there’s a problem….and I can attest to how good it is to have town departments who know what they’re doing.