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Rochambeau Road Collides With Cluster Housing



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To the Editor:

Today more than ever, we need to trust our public figures (be they local developers or presidential candidates) to tell us the truth. When necessary, we check the facts.

On June 26, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 3-2 to approve the August 24, 2023 request of developer George Trudell to discontinue the unused portion of Reservoir Road/aka Rochambeau Trail. This narrow vote was not a final approval of discontinuance but rather a statement that doing so would comply with the 2014 Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) now on the books. (An updated 2024 POCD is still being drafted.)

Discontinuance of the unused portion of Reservoir Road/Rochambeau Trail is critical to Mr Trudell’s plan to build an extremely dense 117-unit cluster development on 40 acres east of the road while preserving 80 acres near Taunton Pond to the west. After taking the P&Z ruling into account, the Board of Selectmen is scheduled to vote Monday, July 15, on whether or not the road should actually be discontinued and conveyed to the developer or whether it should remain under town ownership.

Prior to their June 26 vote, the P&Z commissioners held a public hearing June 20 that was extremely well attended, during which a large number of residents spoke against discontinuance. They hoped by retaining ownership of the historic trail, townspeople and the public at large would be assured of free access to walk the old roadway. That informative signage could be posted along the path and a wide natural buffer preserved so the trail environment would recall a place and time when General Rochambeau’s 4,000 troops marched across Castle Hill nearly 250 years ago.

In defense of his request, Mr Trudell said that “while the road is to be discontinued, it is on the portion of the property that will remain undeveloped” and that “the developed 40 acres are well away from Reservoir Road.” This statement is not entirely true.

A quick glance at development plans on file with the Land Use Department shows that even if a narrow easement is granted on the road’s actual footprint, a substantial section will be exposed and compromised. In fact, the last pod of 14 housing units so closely abuts the trail that walkers will encounter homeowners’ backyards or decks only a few feet away.

Bottom line: If Reservoir Road/Rochambeau Trail is discontinued, we lose control over what happens to it — not only for today but for the future. By taking it off the map in favor of a cluster housing development, Newtown’s small but significant claim to Revolutionary history will be erased.

Respectfully submitted,

Dottie Evans

A letter from Dottie Evans.
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