About Weston —July 12, 2018
by MARGARET WIRTENBERG
Lachat is “where it’s at” in Weston these days.
A vision has just about become a reality! What vision you may ask?
It is pretty simple really. The goal of preserving a farmhouse and
associated structures, and making the picturesque property, that climbs
to Devil’s Den, into a farm.
I have always considered this site to be my foremost model for doing
landscape art. If you are a painter, and like to paint fields or
other outdoor scenery, you would not want to overlook an opportunity to
view Lachat. And that is not to mention its barns, and the
glorious mix of colors in their wooden structures.
When the property was purchased as a result of Special Town Meetings in
1997 and 1999 I breathed a sigh of relief. My favorite subject for
creative expression of what makes Weston Weston was safe.
That joint purchase with The Nature Conservancy was now a done
deal. A roaring vote of “yes” at both Special Town Meetings
brought the town together. These were very special events indeed.
The Town and the Conservancy were then in charge of the future of the
Juliana Lachat Preserve. The Town established a Joint Committee,
which in 2004 came up with a plan for a “nature center.” Funding
of that plan, to begin in fiscal year 2006-2007, was approved as the
opening act of a two item Special Town Meeting on June 17, 2004.
Item two, a “land swap,” was the main event.
But the story does not end there. At Annual Town Budget Meeting in
2006 a motion was made to reduce the Lachat funding that had been
approved in 2004 to zero. Although the motion amounted to a
nullity from a legal standpoint, the sense of the meeting was carried
out and the nature center plan was not implemented.
A series of successor Lachat Committees kept the buildings intact. Structural repairs were made and the grass was mown.
Without naming names, however, a subsequent Board of Selectmen proposed
demolishing what it considered to be the “eyesore” on Godfrey
Road. That would be the Lachat Homestead.
That Board erred, in the judgment of many, including mine. How
does one judge the value of esthetics? Of history? How does
one weigh the preservation of rural heritage against providing a means
of education that can be accomplished in other ways?
This is where the genius of the 501C(3) Friends of Lachat ultimately triumphed.
Be a friend to Weston, its beauty and its heritage, on July 19th at 6:45
p.m. at the Town Hall Meeting Room. This will truly be a very
special Special Town Meeting. Vote “Yes” when the Moderator asks
who is in favor of leasing the Lachat Homestead to the Friends of
Check out the call of the meeting at the Town of Weston website.
ARTIST'S IMPRESSION OF HOW THE NORFIELD OAK TREE LOOKS NOW AFTER MAKING IT SOMEWHAT SAFER FOR SCHOOL BUS.
WILL THE SCHOOL BUS STILL COME TO A STOP? ACTUALLY, IT SHOULD
WHETHER OR NOT THERE IS A CHILD GETTING ON OR OFF - JUST TO BE
Delivery trucks still must cross the yellow line (this was a truck from a
party-supply place); and on the right, coming down the hill
(westbound) the open wound of the missing mast.
INQUIRING MINDS WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF HIS POWERS EXTEND TO TRAFFIC CONTROL??? Answer: No, but the Police Commission/Police Chief is the last word. Planning Law case
- "Causby's Chickens" rule apply? (Chickens [The Tree] were there before the
airport [2016 traffic].) And don't forget the CT General Statutes ("C.G.A.") on the subject of Town Trees...
The Tree Warden states that it is in fine if not great shape but presents a traffic hazard - is it in his purview (link to C.G.A.) to order the removal of this tree for that reason? Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn't...he's in charge of the tree.
R E E W A R D E N P U B L I
C H E A R I N G A U G U S
T 5 , 1 9 9 8 IT AIN'T OVER 'TIL ITS OVER DEPARTMENT: OAK TREE ON NORFIELD ROAD THREATENED AGAIN?
For those who may remember, and for those who weren't around, including
the Town Administrator, who reported at the Board of Selectmen August
2016 that he had read the minutes of Tree Warden public hearing...About
Town spoke up about the matter (having attended all the meetings of the
Board of Selectmen since mid-1991).
Guess what! About Town has it (the Tree Warden Public Hearing) on
videotape (in our archives in the
basement). It is around one hour long and we just watched it - it is a
League of Women Voters of Weston Presents production. Below is a
"play-by-play" of the event - a "picture story" with the pictures being
screen shots! It had been broadcast on the Government Channel (not
run as a local channel then) as a public service from the League of
PUBLIC HEARINGBY TREE WARDENAUGUST 5, 1998
This was a Tree Warden Public Hearing August 5, 1998 in the Town Hall
Meeting Room. Jean Owens taking minutes. Jim Hoe (l) is the
Tree Warden. Public Works Director Joe Lametta ran the hearing,
calling on "yes" take the tree down group (above). P&Z had
tried to minimize curb cuts during subdivision process and come up with
this plan - which included a condition of approval that the tree be
taken down by the developer. Meanwhile, lawyer for the developer
reports two lots have already been sold. In addition, he points
out that the Town of Weston had turned down an offer to buy the
property. P&Z member sorry they couldn't find another way in
SIX LOT SUBDIVISION WITH WETLANDS AND STEEP SLOPES (SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW?).
Martha Gilson ("First Five" not shown) spoke first, another agreed, then a fellow who
loved the tree testified he
thought two stop signs would work. The next speaker (she is not shown) questioned
why they had to exit onto Norfield in the first place, and
another thought tree slowed people down! The runner proposed speed
bumps and stop signs (he had taken the time to do a time and motion study of a sort) measured the sight lines and couldn't see
any safe possibilities).
AH YES WHAT IS A TREE WORTH? Maybe he was abrupt, but he sure was spot on - destroy a 200 year
old tree for 6 building lots? Not, as we would say in the 21st
century, "The Weston Way." Next - why can't we find a way out?
Why? Most magnificent tree. Save the tree! The next
two speakers picked up on the question. "The tree is worth saving!" said one, and the other
wondered where we'd be if we didn't stand up for the natural environment and spare this tree.
SELECTMAN SHOWS WHY HE GETS ELECTED OVER AND OVER!
"Nobody ever complained before - all of a sudden this is an excuse to
take from the town our heritage" was a BIG applause line!!!
Another nail in the approved subdivision condition's future re: the tree...as this venerable
and always accurate voice stated it had never been a problem before...
AND THEN THE "CUT DOWN THAT TREE" SIDE CAME A CROPPER. OOPS! In response, the unwitting P&Z Chair announced that yes it had
been posted to be cut down a few years ago (no doubt testimony by the
applicant). Neighbor rises to report that it was CL&P who had it
posted, not the town, and implicitly we figure she got her way!!!
Then it was over (total @one hour).
Tree Warden repeats that there
will be a decision in three days. The tree is still standing as of August 2016,
but...Selectmen may be having second thoughts...
For reference, in addition to any other records, there are these "League
Lines" columns published in the FORUM that include references to this
very same tree:
"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink" - effort
to get a secret ballot - which was the precursor to the Referendum that
a Charter Revision Commission made more than a decade later... FROM THE LWV OF WESTON WEBSITE: SPECIAL TOWN MEETING, JAN. 9, 2003, WESTON HIGH SCHOOL AUDITORIUM, 8PM
AGENDA 1. Call to order - First Selectman/done - @8:15pm
2. Introduce Head Table - First Selectman/done
3. Nomination and election of Moderator - First Selectman.
Moderator assumes leadership of the balance of the meeting/done.
4. Appoint Parliamentarian (Susan Moch) and identify Registrars of Voters by name and official counters by name/done.
5. Read statutes re Qualifications of voters and penalties for fraudulent voting/done.
6. Segregate non-voters/done.
7. Note that Town Clerk Cynthia Williams is Clerk of the Meeting/Donna Anastasia, Ass't. Town Clerk in this position.
8. Get motion and vote to waive reading of Call/done.
9. Instruct Clerk to enter Call in the minutes of the Meeting/done.
10. Explain votes to be taken, methods of voting, and method of amendments/done.
a. All votes by voice except for the following:
i. If Moderator cannot determine the prevailing side - take immediate standing vote.
ii. If at least seven (7) voters immediately challenge the Moderator's call of the outcome - take immediate standing vote.
iii.If, prior to taking a vote on a motion on the floor, the Meeting
itself upon a motion duly made and seconded, votes to take the vote on
the pending motion by some other
means (i.e. paper ballot).
11. Explain the rules for addressing the meeting/done:
a. Get recognized by the Moderator.
b. Identify yourself by name and street
c. Address remarks or questions to Moderator; be as brief as
possible; don't simply repeat what others have said; avoid
d. Any issues outside the scope of the Call, or not germane to the motion at hand, will be ruled out of order. 12. Any questions about procedure?/LWV of Weston calls for paper ballot,
voice vote taken ("NO" prevails according to Moderator); LWV
Co-President calls for a division of
the house--gets many more than seven voters to join this motion -
standing count not close (precise number to come)--LWV request fails. 13. Brief remarks re First Resolution - First Selectman/done.
14. Discussion and vote/many speakers against, some for--voice vote called "YES"--challenged; standing count not close.
15. Brief remarks re Second Resolution - First Selectman/done.
16. Discussion and vote/speakers equally divided, voice vote "YES" overwhelming--no call for standing count.