Letters to the Editor - 5-9-24

Call for banning sale of ‘nips’ in Connecticut

I would like to see the sale of Nips banned in Connecticut. I’ve read that they are a growing litter problem. The real problem is those who are drinking from them and driving, but the Nips are what we see. Alcoholism is another issue.

My daughter Anne lives on Martha’s Vineyard where they have just passed a law forbidding the sale of Nips on the Island. Technically it’s Dukes County, Massachusetts, which is made up of seven communities. Litter was becoming a huge problem. Maybe we could ban Nips in Litchfield County as a start. Think about it.

Carolyn McDonough


Protect the rail trail

We cherish our Rail Trail, a pathway of beauty, a ribbon of green and forest glade joining Lakeville and Salisbury. We hike it most every day, along with neighbors, their dogs, and children in strollers, while grandparents on the benches hold hands as they watch for birds.

Favorite stops include the above-grade side trail through the woods, the pond where geese touch down on their migration journeys and ducks raise their little ones, the stunning view across land within the Historic District — a hayfield in summers — and gently rolling hills beyond; and the playful Wachocastinook Brook, a trout habitat into which melted winter snow rushes. The Rail Trail is an essential component of why our villages are widely considered among the loveliest settings in New England.

Yet there are threats to the Rail Trail. The recent Colliers consultant study of Salisbury Village recommends in conjunction with the development of the Pope Property adding a “vehicular traffic lane,” a two-line road over Wachocastinook, accompanied by “oversized re-cast box culverts,” features that would “contribute to village vibrancy.”

Life itself has enough vibrancy: the Trail is a treasure that allows us to return to nature easily, to partake of the sylvan solitudes, a major source of joy in our semi-rural life.

Even more shocking, a Planning and Zoning Commission member is in favor of paving the entire section of the Rail Trail from Library Street to Salmon Kill Road, to make a two-way road for cars and trucks with an adjoining pedestrian pathway, a proposal that other members deemed worthy of serious consideration. The Colliers study further suggests that in the section of the Trail near Dresser Woods, “there may be a need to reduce the buffer space between roadway and pathway.” Must the Rail Trail shrink to “accommodate” cars and trucks — and their accompanying noise, pollution, and safety issues?

Of course the Trail can stand some sensible improvements, such as filling in a few sections that become muddy after rain – sturdy logs would make such passages easier. Litter boxes and a pet-waste station or two would be useful. Yes to these modest enhancements, but converting the Rail Trail into a two-lane paved road?

No, thank you!

Further alarming is that the proposed 64 affordable housing units on the Pope Property will adversely impact the adjacent Rail Trail. Much of that tract is unbuildable wetlands, and the Historic District’s part has been in hay for years, a use commensurate with the District’s mandate to preserve our heritage. While affordable housing is a moral imperative that we support, a smaller footprint and number of units would…protect the Rail Trail.

We are among a group of citizens who have formed to fight back against excess urbanization of our village. We encourage you to join us, to take a stand for preserving our green heritage for future generations, and against turning the Rail Trail into an asphalt and concrete traffic road.

Loch K. Johnson and Tom Shachtman


Jahana Hayes helps ease housing shortage

Through passion and hard work, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has succeeded in increasing funds for affordable housing in numerous towns in Connecticut’s 5th district. She keeps searching for better ways to ease our housing shortage, whether through increasing funding for affordable rentals or with home ownership assistance as illustrated by her recent meeting with the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA).

She knows we have to pursue multiple approaches to ensure everyone has a safe place to call home and local businesses, schools and medical facilities can find the staff they need to operate. It’s a job that will never be finished.

As a single mother, Jahana Hayes knows what it’s like to live on a tight budget. As someone who has worked to increase affordable housing in my own town of Salisbury, I know we cannot make a difference in our region without the support of our local government representatives. Thank goodness we have Jahana Hayes in our corner helping us.

Mary Close Oppenheimer

Salisbury Affordable Housing Commission

Protect Honey Hill and the Housatonic River

The Housatonic Valley Association has carefully considered the resubmitted special permit application for a twenty-unit subdivision off Honey Hill Road and Highland Lane in North Canaan. We again conclude this subdivision is bad not only for North Canaan which has no public recreational access to the Wild and Scenic River that forms its western boundary, but also for its neighbors across the river in Salisbury and those downstream. We remain unconvinced that the best thing to do for the forest ecosystem that the applicant has invested time and resources to steward is to carve it up into house lots. We offered the applicant a significant financial proposal to permanently protect his undeveloped property in North Canaan but were unable to persuade him to make conservation his legacy.

The permit application now before the Town of North Canaan Planning and Zoning Commission is substantially the same as the one withdrawn back in January that did not comply with statutory referral requirements. The plan now shows a three-hundred-foot wide “Conservation Easement” running across the back of numerous lots along the length of the River. No reputable conservation entity will accept such a conservation easement today. Conservation easements crossing multiple parcels in subdivisions are of limited ecological value and a nightmare to enforce, routinely leading to violations and expensive court actions. Nor does the plan provide a legal way for the easement holder to access the conservation area without passing over other private land not subject to the easement. There is no provision for public access to the conservation easement area from a public road, without which the only access would be reserved for members of the private homeowners association.

If the applicant proposes a conservation easement over a portion of the subdivision, it should not be over more than one parcel of land. Either it should comprise a single parcel owned by the homeowners’ association, or cover a portion of a single parcel under single ownership. In either case, the protected area needs to include frontage on Honey Hill Road for public assess and for the easement holder to enter the easement area to monitor compliance with its terms and conditions. The conservation purpose needs to be made explicit, together with specific easement language that will prevent clearing the remaining forest for private views, allow public recreational access and protect sensitive habitats from erosion, sedimentation or additional impairment through development upslope. Likewise, the culturally sensitive areas identified by the applicant’s own archeologist need to be formally investigated and those within the easement area expressly protected under its terms and conditions.

In such a potentially disruptive development proposal, the applicant should be willing to provide a fully drafted easement with a conservation partner ready to accept it, instead of leaving those details for after the approval process. Anything less is just a greenwash. The continued public hearing resumes May 13, 2024 at 7:00 p.m. at the North Canaan Town Hall.

Tim Abbott

Conservation Director

Housatonic Valley Association

North Canaan

Greenland has lost only 1.6 percent of its ice

If you’ve been listening to the climate experts for the past 30 years, you certainly would have concluded that Greenland has lost most of its ice by now.

Indeed, NBC and other major media recently reported that “an estimated 11,000 square miles of Greenland’s ice sheet and glaciers have melted over the past 30 years — an area roughly nine times the size of Rhode Island.”

This certainly sounds catastrophic until you read the context which was buried in many reports: the 11,000 square miles of lost ice is “equivalent to around 1.6% of Greenland’s total ice cover.”

That’s right. After decades of screaming about rising oceans and melting poles, Greenland, which NBC calls “ground zero of the climate crisis,” still has virtually 99 percent of its ice!

I’ve been trying to get this fact printed in a letter in The Lakeville Journal for over a month now, but the publisher says they prefer letters of “local interest.” That’s nonsense, of course. Climate change is of local interest. I think the real problem is that Greenland’s actual ice loss is so small that it doesn’t fit the media’s “existential threat” climate narrative.

Mark Godburn


Thank you for Prayer Day

Our hearts are filled with thanks to our wonderful Salisbury/Lakeville community for sharing the goodness of the Lord as we celebrated the National Day of Prayer.

God blessed us with a perfect spring day and you all came out. There was a warmth of fellowship and spirit with Michael Brown at the keyboard and heart felt prayers of participants that encouraged and inspired.

From all different walks of life, we united in prayer for government, fire, police and emergency workers, military and vets, schools, churches, families, business, arts and media.

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to focus on things of eternal value from the one who can help. As President John F. Kennedy has said, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking God’s help and blessing.

Newt and Barbara Schoenly


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