Great Brook Road to remain public
NEW MILFORD — Great Brook Road will remain public after residents, mostly from the upper portion of the road, voted down a partial discontinuance at Monday’s town meeting.
The discontinuance would have made the lower section of the road private, splitting the land between the two property owners that border the road. This section is impassable and hasn’t been maintained by the town in decades, though it is a town road. It wouldn’t have affected the paved part of the road.
The vote to discontinue the road failed 30 to 24 once the votes were verified. The initial count had 37 no votes, but seven people weren’t registered voters. The yes votes weren’t verified following the vote.
Residents spoke out against the proposal because they said they were worried this would open the road up to development, disrupting the quiet of the cul de sac. They also worried the top of the mountain could be cut off in a storm and wanted an emergency route available, even if just by foot. The road now acts as a hiking trail for the residents.
They also challenged the timing. They said the road has been in this state for decades and the town has no plans of developing it. They questioned that if the applicant truly has no plans for changing the road then why the discontinuance was needed.
“As it stands, I can’t support the motion because I feel like there’s something else going on,” resident John Learson said to applause.
Dottie Wilcox, who has lived on Great Brook Road for 40 years, said making the road private means one of the applicants, Dan Daignault would “own the whole mountain” and worried he would be able to do whatever he wanted.
Daignault, one of the two applicants for the discontinuance, said he waited until now because he had been building up parcels along the road.
“I’m sort of baffled why there’s so much opposition to this,” Daignault said. “It would go between my neighbor and myself and we would be paying taxes on it.”
He said people wander onto his property because they don’t realize they are no longer on the town road and he worries they’ll get hurt. He said he has no plans to develop the property, or create a thruway, but can’t speak for his children or anyone he would sell the property to.
Jeff Sienkiewicz, the attorney representing the residents asking for the privacy or discontinuance, said it would be harder to develop the property if the road is discontinued.
He said the town could be required to upgrade the road so it’s passable. A developer would also have to meet road guidelines and the current road is too steep for the plan to be approved. The town would have to improve the road though because it doesn’t have to meet the ordinance and regulations.
Sienkiewicz remembered a case against the town when he was the town attorney that was ultimately settled but would have required the town to rebuild a road and said this would be a similar case.
Public Works and the town’s planning recommended the discontinuance.
“It’s a huge liability,” Sienkiewicz said.