Weston dog park vote is set for March 10

Westonites will vote on whether a dog park should be constructed on the town-owned Moore property on Saturday, March 10. The vote will take place by machine vote in the Meeting Room at Weston Town from noon until 8 p.m.

First Selectman Chris Spaulding and Selectman Brian Gordon voted on Thursday, Feb. 22 to establish a referendum for the dog park in response to a petition the town received from Weston Dog Park Inc. on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

The town will vote yes or no on the following question: “Shall the town of Weston establish an enclosed, approximately 3.5 acre dog park on the town owned 36-acre parcel on Davis Hill Road as depicted in the visualization map and in accordance with the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the town and Weston Dog Park Inc. both of which are available on the town website and in the town clerk’s office?”

The proposed dog park would be built on a 3.6-acre parcel located within a 36-acre tract of town-owned land known as the Moore property, which is located off Davis Hill Road and Lords Highway East.

According to Registrar of Voters Mike Zegers, registered Weston voters are eligible to vote at the referendum as well as residents who are 18 and older who are U.S. citizens and own at least $1,000 worth of property.

Absentee ballots will be available by Wednesday, Feb. 28. The town clerk’s office is not mailing absentee ballots. Qualified voters can pick the ballots up at the the town clerk’s office in Weston Town Hall.

Spaulding and Gordon also voted to hold a public hearing on the proposed dog park on Friday, March 9 in the Weston High School Cafeteria. The hearing will run from 7 p.m. until approximately 10 p.m.

Selectman Stephan Grozinger recused himself from voting on the dog park issues citing a potential conflict of interest.

There is an additional petition circulating from residents opposed to the dog park, calling for the town to sell the Moore property to the Aspetuck Land Trust to conserve it.

Grozinger sits on the board of the Aspetuck Land Trust and decided to recuse himself from the vote to avoid any potential conflict of interest.

“When this all started, the choice was between putting a dog park on the Moore property or leaving the Moore property alone,” said Grozinger. “I need to recuse myself as long as that [new] petition is pending.”

The new petition calling for the sale of the Moore property to the Aspetuck Land Trust has not yet been received by the town clerk.

The petition to send the dog park issue to a town meeting vote was signed by more than 380 qualified voters. Weston’s town charter allows for a petition with signatures of not less than 5% of qualified voters in Weston to trigger a special town meeting.

Town Administrator Jonathan Luiz said the town clerk acknowledged a sufficient number of signatures on the petition to call for the town meeting.

Conservation Commission

Weston’s Conservation Commission held a public hearing about the dog park on Feb. 22, following the selectmen’s meeting.

Commissioners said they didn’t have enough information to vote by the end of the meeting, and there will be a continuation of the public hearing on Monday, March 26.

However, the town vote will still occur on March 10.

“The town vote has no meaning to us,” said Zegers, who is also the chair of the Conservation Commission.

He said the Conservation Commission is responsible for implementing the Inland Wetlands and Watercourse Regulations of the town of Weston.

If the Conservation Commission ultimately decides the proposed dog park would affect those regulations, the park will not be placed on the Moore property unless changes are made that the commission decides will not affect the regulations.

There is also a Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing to discuss the dog park proposal on Thursday, March 1, in the Community Room at the Weston Public Library.

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