North Stonington Conservation Commission's actions were indeed illegal
An April 4 letter to the editor correctly indicated that the North Stonington Conservation Commission illegally steered $40,000 of public funds to a private entity.
Amazingly, Chairman Bill Ricker's response arrogantly admits that, (1) the illegal action occurred, (2) it has happened before, and (3) it will continue.
Ricker's attempted justification gets one thing right: the commission's authority arises, if at all, by express grant of Connecticut statute. He claims that CT Gen. Stat. §7-131r authorizes the commission to steer public funds to private hands. §7-131r, however, does not grant any entity any authority to distribute any money. It empowers a municipality, by referendum, to create a land acquisition fund and to deposit money into that fund; that's all.
The Conservation Commission's limited power arises from §7-131a(b), which states that it "... may with the approval of such legislative body acquire land ... in the name of the municipality ...". Thus, the commission may only use the land acquisition fund to acquire land for North Stonington and, even then, it can only do so after an approved referendum. Here, the commission's action was illegal because (1) no referendum was held, and (2) a private party will own the acquired land.
Anthony M. Palazzolo, Esq.
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