Area towns join Northwest Hills council
A merger has taken place that may affect the towns of Kent, Roxbury, Washington and Warren.
Newly created is the Northwest Hills Council of Governments, a 20-municipality planning board which absorbed those area towns.
In November, the state Office of Policy Management approved a merger to create the new council.
The state mandated such mergers of regional planning organizations to bring the total number statewide down from 14 to eight.
As a result, the nine towns in the Northwestern Connecticut Council of Governments -- which had included Kent, Roxbury, Washington and Warren -- were merged with the 11 towns of the Litchfield Hills Council of Elected Officials.
Both planning organizations had requested the merger. Councils that had not reached a merger by this month were to be organized by OPM.
Barbara Henry, Roxbury's first selectman, has served as chairman of NWCCOG.
She said she is "excited" about the merger.
"The governor has been talking for some time about merging the planning organizations," and we could see the writing on the wall," Henry said.
"Roxbury didn't want to end up being merged with Waterbury by the state," she said. "I looked at HVCEO (Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials), but we are a small town and work better with the smaller towns of northwestern Connecticut."
The thought of being part of a 20-town planning council was daunting at first, admitted Mark Lyon, Washington first selectman.
"Future concerns are there as to whether the state support will continue," Lyon said. "There were reservations if grants would continue to come to the towns as they were or if they will dwindle, with all of us getting a smaller share of the pot."
That said, he added, "This is the best deal going. Merging will be positive in the long run. Our demographics are comfortably similar. We have already done several things jointly, like purchasing plow blades and magic salt for the roads in bulk."
The newly formed council will include Barkhamsted, Canaan, Colebrook, Cornwall, Kent, Goshen, Hartland, Harwinton, Litchfield, Morris, Norfolk, North Canaan, New Hartford, Roxbury, Salisbury, Sharon, Torrington, Warren, Washington and Winchester.