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Letter to the Editor: Writer Disagrees With Town Cleaning Catch Basins on Private Property

Man says the proposal is in violation of Oxford P&Z regulations.

To my fellow Oxford Residents, before you vote on the municipal budget on Tuesday, May 15, 2012, I want to make you aware that the proposed municipal budget, if passed, is violating the Town of Oxford Planning & Zoning Regulations conditions of approval given to the 55 and over housing projects in the Town of Oxford. Let me clarify. The following two line items in the proposed Municipal Budget include this violation:

  1. Under the Highway Maintenance,  line item :  “Equipment – Rental of”  Actual was $35,136 and it is now proposed to $101,000 an increase of $65,864.
  2. Under the Water Hydrant Charges, line item :  “Water Hydrant Charges” Actual was $43,240 and it is now proposed to $82,874 an increase of $39,634.

During  the Town Meeting on Monday, May 7, 2012, I questioned the increase on both of these line items, and I was told by two members of the Board of Finance that 1) the “Equipment  - Rental of” increase now included the clean out of the catch basis on 55 and over housing projects in particularly Oxford Greens; and that 2) the increase in the “Water Hydrant Charges” now included the maintenance of the water hydrant’s for the 55 and over housing project in Oxford, again in particular Oxford Greens. It is now my understanding that $20,000 is being allocated to clean the catch basins and maintain the water hydrants at Oxford Greens and Meadow Brook. I was also told by the Board of Finance Members that this allocation of moneys was insisted on by First Selectman George Temple.

Although First Selectman George Temple’s intentions may have been good, as I stated earlier, if the proposed Municipal Budget is approved on May 15, 2012, is in violation of the Town of Oxford Zoning Regulations ARTICLE 5A, SECTION 4, SUBSECTION 4.2 B) which states “Ownership and Maintenance.  All interior roads shall remain private ownership in perpetuity and all Town road maintenance services shall cease at the perimeter property line of the development parcel.”

My suggestion is for the Town of Oxford to vote NO to the proposed Municipal Budget, send it back to a public hearing so that we can at least reduce these two line items, and bring the Municipal Budget back in conformance, and not violate the Town of Oxford Planning & Zoning and State of Connecticut Section  8-g which state only the Land Use Commission can put conditions on applications for Town Use, not a selectman or the Board of Selectman.

- David A. Robinson, Sr. - 226 Christian Street, Oxford

Tanya Carver May 11, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Mark, I am going to disagree with you in regards to your comments about Dave Robinson. As I recall, Dave was the first individual who questioned these two line items, after him two other individuals agreed with Dave. There were other individuals who also spoke some for and some against it. The floor was still open for discussion, then one of the Board of Finance member suggested that if people feel strongly about this then to make a motion to remove it, at this time two hands went up Michael Macchio and Dave Robinson, Michael was acknowledged who made a motion to move the Municipal Budget to referendum, I believed you second it. Dave Robinson did not have an opportunity to make his motion.
Tanya Carver May 11, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Mark, you may also recall the Wayne Watt, Road Foreman of Public Works in Oxford, was unaware that he would be doing maintenance on the 55 and over communities.
B Miller May 11, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Few, if any, Oxford residents have committed more time and effort to this town over the past 20 years than David Robinson (and Barb). Dave knows intimately the details of agreement between the Town and Oxford Greens. He is absolutely right that the deal was these costs (and all costs expect Fire, Police and Medical Services) were to be borne by the Oxford Greens community. It was agreed to by the developer in exchange for P&Z Approval and all purchaser should have know that. I do however, believe Oxford Greens is a great benefit to our Town and the residents have been great additions to the Town. The bottom line is if the agreement between Oxford Greens and the Town is to be changed or re-negotiated, it should be done as a stand alone discussion and not snuck into the Town budget.
Ed Hellauer May 11, 2012 at 04:42 PM
I sat next to Dave on the P&Z Commission when the approvals for these communities were hammered out. Dave is 100% correct in his statements and I am in total agreement with his position. I , too, will be voting againast the municipal budget until these items are removed. The Town has no business, and no authority, doing maintenence work in these communities.
Richard Burke May 11, 2012 at 08:01 PM
To Mark Gross, You’re a retired attorney who today calls himself Reverend. I urge you to rise above the level you’ve written at. Mr. Robinson’s viewpoint may be correct in the eyes of many, and it’s unfortunate that he failed to convert it to motion. We’ve all failed at times. This BoF member failed in the sense of not raising a strong objection to this budget increase introduced by Mr. Temple. Although Mr Temple’s action may have been well intended, I have come to believe it was wrong. With his action, Mr. Temple has opened a door that someone may attempt to open further with future budgets. Some residents of the 55 communities may feel that they are not receiving equal benefit for the tax dollars they contribute. One large point overlooked in their thinking is that Oxford taxpayers at large subsidize a tremendous cost associated with a sewage infrastructure which only benefits the 55 communities, as well as the industrial and a large portion of the commercial sectors. On top of receiving no direct benefit from this costly investment, the non 55+ residents also bear the expense of maintaining their own septic systems. …. To be continued
Richard Burke May 11, 2012 at 08:19 PM
There are other facets to this 55+ tax benefits debate, such as “beyond incremental” increased cost associated with operating the OAA. At the end of the day however, I believe the plus and minus for all sides balance out. After thinking more on this matter, I agree with Mr. Robinson’s viewpoint, and wish that I and my fellow BoF members had disallowed Mr Temple’s well-meaning insertion to our budget. To the residents of Oxford’s 55+ communities, I mean no disrespect with this response to Mr. Gross, and I thank you for all that you contribute to the village we call Oxford. Regards, Dick Burke
xxxoxox May 12, 2012 at 01:48 AM
It would be helpful to know where this proposal came from. Ann Krane made the comment that Oxford Greens residents did not request this action/benefit. While I'm not sure where I stand on this based on the info available, we shouldn't let this create a division in town. Oxford Greens and residents there have been a tremendous asset to the town and are part of us. I'm not saying that anyone is purposely attempting to do this but misunderstanding is the first culprit in offense.
Blake Denham May 12, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Paying for catch basin work at Oxford Greens with TAX PAYERS monies is not only wrong but it was never asked for by the residents of Oxford Greens. The residents there are charged a "residents fee" for items such as this. Will the residents at say, Meadowbrook be wrong in asking for town monies to be spent in maintaining the property of Haynes? Where and when will "our" tax dollars be "gifted" next. My septic system is due to be cleaned next year, Oxford, at last look, (thanks ex-tax collector) has not had a large enough surplus to be spending money on non-OXFORD items. Every dollar counts. How about repairing OUR infrastructure, not theirs.
Oxford Resident May 12, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Putting MY money into the budget for the sole benefit of Oxford Greens is 100% WRONG! This must be George's THANK YOU to that community as he was going door-to-door making promises and this shows you George is more interested in who he makes happy versus what is good for the town. BUT, you can only blame George so much. He could have asked for the "bridge to nowhere" or he could have asked for a football field with a dome, that is what a budget REQUEST is for. Ultimately, the BOF is at fault for 1) not asking the right questions to understand this request and 2) not striking this line item from the budget before it ever reached the town budget meeting. I would urge EVERYONE to VOTE NO to the MUNICIPAL budget and force this line item to get removed by the BOF. But, if this budget passes, we have to deal with it and be more diligent during the next budget cycle to NEVER allow something like this to happen again! Please BOF, do your due diligence to understand everything in the budget and not pass items like this onto the back of hardworking taxpayers and residents.
Beverly May 12, 2012 at 03:03 PM
If "KING GEORGE" wants to buy the votes of the Oxford Greens residents he should use HIS "Royal Coffers" and not that of the Tax Payers! Sounds like GT went back to his "Democratic Ways". The French have just voted in a Socialist as President, have we done the same???? Hope not! VOTE NO TO THE KING!!!!! Before we know it he'll build a "stadium" , in the MILLIONS of Dollars, to get the votes of the parents of football players, (a minority) instead of building a library or improving our roads so everyone can benefit, not just a select few!!! You would think that an attorney would know better than to change the rules as we go along! Shame on the King!
Ryan May 12, 2012 at 03:10 PM
OK as John Joy indicated...it comes down to whether you agree or disagree. The BOS and BOF can propose anything they would like in the budget. Someone should have made a motion at town meeting to cut. That wasn't done. Ummm...the previous Planning & Zoning Board made a condition of approval for the turning lane for Haynes (Meadowbrook) and that wasn't done by them. The previous administration pursued it. In all fairness, it was done before and being done again. I have to admit as a citizen Oxford Greens & Meadowbrook Community does keep our taxes low. Personally, I am not finding a major issue with $30,000. Just my thoughts.
Ryan May 12, 2012 at 03:15 PM
...one more addition. If everyone who is opposed to the budget because of the Oxford Greens matter how come you didn't do it at the town meeting. Voting "NO" now to the budget will cost the town more money & time! Next time "get her done" earlier.
John M. Joy May 12, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Perhaps some were undecided but leaning toward no, and found this particular item to be the proverbial last straw. And not everyone can make the meetings, for a variety of reasons. That's the reason important items (the budget, major projects, ...) are removed to referendum.
Blake Denham May 12, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Maybe a lot of seniors don't like to drive at night? JMO.
John M. Joy May 12, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Also, please see the post (above) by Tanya Carver at 9:51 am on Friday, May 11, 2012. I was not at the meeting (Ms Carver apparently was) thus cannot speak to what transpired, but I can tell you that I've been at Town Meetings in the past which were carefully stage-managed, with only certain people being recognized by the moderator. This is one of the reasons I consider the Town Meeting form of government as presently constituted here dubious - it's much too easy to "stack" in favor of an interest group's pet project or cause.
Gin May 12, 2012 at 04:42 PM
The people at Oxford Greens pay the same taxes as other residents in town who have their catch basins cleaned and their fire hydrants maintained by the town. Why should they have to pay extra for services ?
John M. Joy May 12, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Others (above) such as Mr. Burke and B. Miller have already spoken to this.
Will Wilkin May 12, 2012 at 04:57 PM
I have been in town just under 3 years so new to the situation, but after reading and thinking I agree with Mr. Robinson's reasoning and thank him for the homework behind it. The issue of setting precedents and "where will it end" are important, but most of all it is important that the govt follow the law, including the town zoning regulations. Otherwise govt eventually becomes arbitrary and democratic control is lost. Also I appreciate Mr. Burke's nuanced look at the larger context of the catchbasin debate (the overall dynamics of the over 55 community in the town budget). I agree with his approach that this issue should not become a source of tension in the town, that rejecting this expenditure for above-stated reasons is no sign of disrespect.
Dad in Oxford May 12, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Gin, you are a private community and you pay dues for maintenance, thus you are responsible for your own costs to clean up your private community. If you want to use public funds for general maintenance, would Oxford Greens be willing to open their facilities for public use for the residents of Oxford?
John M. Joy May 12, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Or, to put it another way, when's the town going to deliver a load of crushed stone for my driveway? Seriously, though, residents of Oxford Greens, as it is, receive more in town services than I do: your community is in aggregate an above-average user of emergency services, there's much more of Riggs Street between Route 67 and your entrance than to our property, and as 55+ you are eligible to join the Senior Center and partake in their activities.
Richard Burke May 12, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Mr Joy, As much as I dislike participation in this type of forum, due to the anonymity of much of it, I have to respond to your writing. As to the 55+ communities demand on our emergency services, I'll argue that with respect the OAA only is the demand per capita increased. I see no increase with respect to fire or police. What the voters ultimately decide for the municipal portion of our budget remains to be seen. For the time being, let's not blow this out of proportion, and remember that our 55+ community has contributed a great many tax dollars during their life time. Some no doubt, have give years of military service during Vietnam and other earlier war periods. Peace, Dick Burke
John M. Joy May 12, 2012 at 07:56 PM
You are, of course, correct. Thank you.
Janis Hardy May 13, 2012 at 02:28 AM
As you have acknowledged, Mr. Burke, this was an inappropriate request, in addition to being an illegal expenditure, put forward by Mr. Temple, perhaps, as stated by others, as a way to thank these residents for their votes. If this budget does pass, perhaps the BOF can request that the funds allocated for this cost BE REMOVED from this line item and placed into BOF contingency, thus effectively eliminating the appropriation. Perhaps Mr. Temple's attempts at Town goodwill were misplaced: after all, he is not a zoning attorney and likely is unfamiliar with Oxford's zoning requlations and the legal implications of the agreement between the Town of Oxford P&Z and the developer/owners of property at Oxford Greens and Meadowbrook. No part of this discussion is intended to reflect any animosity toward anyone living in these over-55 communities. It is just that the law is the law, and if we look the other way and break this rule, what will we be opening the door of precident to next?
Ryan May 14, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Janis....and everyone here do we not see that this was done in the past too??? Again for example, the turning lane on Great Hill Road. Haynes Construction Co. was supposed to put that in too but yet state funds by the previous selectman were used to improve the lane although the Planning & Zoning Commission made it a condition of their approval for Meadowbrook +55 Community? Was that breaking the law and zoning regulations?? It all comes down to the Selectmen doing what they want!
Janis Hardy May 14, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Ryan, this is comparing apples and oranges! There is a big difference between taxpayer dollars being spent on a public road improvement and taxpayer dollars being spent doing improvements on private property! This is like the Town coming in and cleaning out your septic system... not something it is allowed to do with public funds!
Gin May 14, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Dad in Oxford, I do not live at Oxford Greens. I live in Seymour where we also pay for these services although we are taxed at the same rate as homeowners who have these services provided for them. If the town does not provide services to certain areas then these residents should pay a lower mil rate.
lila ferrillo May 15, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Janis, you know better. How many years have you sat on the BOF? When a budget is passed by the residents, it has been sanctioned by the residents. The BOF does not have the authority to remove monies from a department's budget. We have the authority to move monies from one line to another at the request of a department. We do not set policy, that falls under the selecmen's office. If this budget passes the money stays where it was placed. I am not advocating voting down the budget because of the funds for Oxford Greens and Meadow brook. I'm just clarifying our authority. LF
Roc May 15, 2012 at 12:38 AM
I'm voting no tomorrow night and thank Mr. Robinson for looking out for the people. Mark Gross your wrong in everyway. The law is the law and if George Temple wants to break it then he should be removed from office. We should also contact the Attorney General and have him investigate the matter.One man's promise for votes is not the honest hard working citizens problem.I also have an issue with the tax collectors raise. Too much money for not being in that position long.The money is the taxpayers not George Temples. No Kings in this Country.
Roc May 17, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Contact the Attorney Generals Office and Senator Bluementhal for an investigation.
Roc June 12, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Does anyone know if anything is being done about George Temple violating planning and zoning regulations?

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