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Ridgefield ordinance would simply wetlands enforcement

December 29, 2017 GMT

RIDGEFIELD — Voters next week will consider a proposed ordinance that officials hope can help homeowners resolve violations of wetlands regulations without a formal hearing.

The ordinance, drafted by the town’s inlands and wetlands officials earlier this year, will face a public hearing and special town meeting Wednesday.

It would allow the wetlands enforcement officer, Beth Peyser, to issue warnings and citations for violations of the town’s “inland wetlands and watercourse” regulations instead of immediately bringing the issue to the Inland Wetlands Board.

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Under current regulations, any violation is brought to the board for a formal hearing, where the officials then decide how to address the issue.

Peyser said the aim of the new ordinance is to allow homeowners to resolve the issue without a hearing, or even a citation, if the violation is corrected after the initial warning.

“This is an intermediate step where it doesn’t have to escalate to a hearing in front of the board,” she said. “The ultimate goal is to see a remedy to the violation, not to collect fines for the town, so we would hope that by issuing the warning we would see the results we were hoping for without issuing a citation.”

Similar ordinances already exist in Ridgefield for zoning and conservation violations, which Peyser said have been successful at fixing issues at the warning stage.

Peyser, who also works as an enforcement officer for the Conservation Commission, said she hasn’t had to issue a single citation under the conservation ordinance since it was put in place in May 2016.

“We’ve seen results simply by issuing the warning,” Peyser said. “We would hope to continue that with wetlands.”

Most towns in the area already have similar ordinances for wetlands and have had a “very high success rate,” she added.

The public hearing and meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall. Peyser said the hearing can be extended to another day if residents want more information before a vote, but if voters approve the ordinance Wednesday it will go into effect once it is added to the regulations.

aquinn@newstimes.com

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