The Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) has designated as permanent open space an undeveloped area at Fairfield Hills near Wasserman Way.
Following discussion at a recent session, P&Z members unanimously decided to protect as designated open space the areas known as the High Meadow and the East Meadow. The area sometimes is known only as the High Meadow.
The protected area comprises approximately 45 acres. The land lies generally south and west of the southwest corner of the intersection of Wasserman Way and Nunnawauk Road.
The Board of Selectman already had endorsed designating the area as open space.
P&Z members decided that the open space designation is consistent with the 2014 Town Plan of Conservation and Development and also with the recently updated Fairfield Hills Master Plan.
In 2004, the town bought 186 acres and many buildings at Fairfield Hills from the state for $3.9 million. The High/East Meadow area represents about one-quarter of the acreage that the town purchased.
Before approving the High/East Meadow open space plan, P&Z members reviewed a report on meadow habitat protection prepared by the Conservation Commission.
According to the Conservation Commission, the presence of a meadow as large of the High/East Meadow in Newtown is significant.
The High/East Meadow provides scenic views of northern Newtown. It lies in an Aquifer Protection District. The land is used for haying. The meadow is bordered by windbreaks. The meadow’s complex, deep root system discourages erosion, encourages water infiltration, and stabilizes the soil.
Animals that can be found in such an area include mice, voles, woodchucks, deer, rabbits and toads, plus a variety of birds, bees, and butterflies.
Also, such meadows provide hunting areas for snakes, foxes, hawks, and owls.
The Conservation Commission notes that the High/East Meadow contains the invasive plants known as barberry and bittersweet, especially along treelines. Those plants would be removed as part of a multi-year meadow improvement project.