SOUTHINGTON – A Curtiss family member said a planned sewer project violates the deed of land the family sold to the town as open space.
Tom Curtiss voiced his opposition at a Town Council meeting this week. While officials, including the town attorney, argued the sewer project doesn’t violate the agreement, several councilors sided with Curtiss.
Town engineers are planning to decommission a pump station at the end of Blatchley Avenue and replace it with a gravity sewer line heading west. The line will run through the Curtiss Farm property, a mostly forested open space parcel.
Curtiss and his brother sold the land to the town after the death of their mother in 2001. He argued that the deed prohibits structures and makes the sewer project a violation.
“This is not what I had in mind when I proposed this to the town back in 2001,” he said. “To me this is plain English. You can’t do this project on this property. It requires construction.”
Town Attorney Carolyn Futtner told councilors that her interpretation of the deed prohibited above-ground structures but not underground sewer lines.
“We’re talking about above-surface, we’re talking about residential dwellings, we’re talking about roofed structures,” she said. “This is not a structure on the premises.”
Some councilors disagreed, saying the language of the deed was clear.
“I’m not an attorney. That’s a stretch,” said Councilor Michael Riccio of Futtner’s interpretation.
Town Manager Mark Sciota warned councilors against commenting on an issue that could go to litigation. He said the alternative to running the sewer line through the Curtiss property would cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars” more.
The sewer plan calls for clearing trees along the line. Sciota said that is allowed since the town can create trails through the property according to the deed.
Town Council Chairman Chris Palmieri said nothing would be done until the council had taken action on the deed question.
“This issue is not resolved. We’ll have to look into this further,” he said.
Curtiss also complained about the lack of maintenance on the property since its purchase by the town. He said the area around the pond is getting overgrown and that he and his son maintain trails and other areas of it.
Dawn Miceli, council vice chairwoman and open space acquisition committee chairwoman, said improvements to the pond were made this fall and that the town does have a budget for maintaining public land.
“We have never utilized it more than we have in the past year,” she said.
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