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Easton Selectmen Deny Driveway Petition

EASTON, Conn. – In an unusual 8 a.m. meeting Wednesday, Easton officials denied a petition signed by about 60 residents asking for a town meeting to discuss the handling of driveway bonds.

Although the Board of Selectmen denied a formal meeting, it is open to having a public forum on the matter.

The petition was circulated throughout town by Robert Webbe, an Easton resident and former write-in candidate for first selectman. It was delivered to Town Hall on Feb. 16.

“I was surprised that they had the meeting that early, but I wasn’t surprised that they denied it,” Webbe said.

The meeting was held early because of scheduling conflicts among the selectmen, First Selectman Thomas Herrmann said.

According to the meeting minutes, town officials were asked to call a special town meeting for “the purpose of discussion and to take action on town driveway and road bonds, town ordinances, audit of driveway bond account(s), and legal counsel to represent town legislative body to audit and investigate driveway bond protocol.”

The purpose of a driveway bond, a practice enacted in 1980, is to ensure each resident has a working, up-to-code driveway that does not cause damage to town roads or residential properties. Under the ordinance, a homeowner must post a $2,500 bond to ensure driveway work is done correctly.

Gowan Dacey, an Easton resident who signed the petition, said in an email, “I’m understandably disappointed, but not surprised considering Mr. Herrmann’s ongoing assault against transparency regarding important town issues.”

The town came under fire by residents in the late fall after a small claims suit against the town sought $2,500 for a bond that was never released. Soon after that filing, it was discovered the town was in the possession of $278,000 worth of outstanding bonds that date back more than a decade.

The selectmen denied the petition “due to the lack of a proper purpose; specifically the topics are not within the jurisdiction of the town meeting, and/or the petition lacks the required specificity.” The selectmen passed the motion unanimously.

“This isn't just something I was denied, but it was something the citizens of Easton was denied,” Webbe said.

The denial of the town meeting doesn't mean the conversation is finished. According to the minutes, “It was the consensus of the board that they would schedule a forum in the near future for an open dialogue and public discussion with respect to the petition.”

Herrmann said Wednesday the forum “will be on all the subjects listed in the petition. Clearly, the objective is to solicit input from residents.”

“We hope that a vast majority will be able to attend,” he said.

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