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ABOUT TOWN: Lucky!

Weston is indeed fortunate. The results of the just completed “short session” of the legislature proved it for me! And as the saying goes, you have to be good to be lucky!

And we were lucky. How often do the cities get to be in agreement with the suburbs and rural parts of the state? That was the case with some of the things that happened in the last days of the session. Particularly notable was that our senators were able to vote together with the majority on education reform.

Our representative stood to support legislation against “DWB” (“driving while black”) traffic stops. New to the legislature but a quick learner, he proposed some small bills that had big impact.

One of them rid us once and for all of the threat of triple-damage liability on zoning enforcement officers. First Selectman Gayle Weinstein had led the charge on this, on behalf of local leadership in southwestern Connecticut.

And then Weston’s lawmakers played defense. What did not pass the state Senate? “An Act Concerning Planning Regions,” for one thing. This House bill came ever-so-close to passage, and was, if past actions accurately reflect present underlying beliefs, a personal favorite of House majority leadership.

It is a good thing that the state of Connecticut did not pre-determine the number of reorganized planning regions prior to eventual study of the issue. A “thank you” to the Senate is in order!

Storms plus

One would certainly have hoped that the legislature would not fail to act on emergency preparedness and response. This long bill modifies existing statutory language and adds new sections. It passed the House on the last day, and I was particularly struck by one of its many new sections.

One talks about planning issues! This is the place where burying water, sewer or gas lines, electric wires, and cable or fiber optics is mentioned. It will now be the official practice of public utilities and government to consider this option. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority gets to hold a hearing. Details will be forthcoming after PURA develops standards by February of next year.

This could work for Weston! Burying power and other lines in the central part of town could now happen! This bill gives us leverage with the power company to help make that come to pass!

And wouldn’t you know it, a bill that permits limited charter revision finally passed! As I read it, after Oct. 1, 2012, any new Charter Revision Commission can be directed to address specific parts of a charter, without opening the entire document to change. It passed the Senate on the last day of the session.

Why does this make a difference for Weston? Because in the future, the work of Charter Revision Commissions can be limited in scope, if that is the will of their appointing authority.

I am always someone who trusts the people of Weston to make the right decisions. I hope that the Board of Selectmen will permit many of the proposed charter changes to be decided individually on the ballot, on Nov. 6. Whatever the results may be, though, we now know that in the future charters may be amended in part.

NOTE: “About Town” is also a television program. It appears on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on Cablevision Channel 88 (Public Access). Or see it at aboutweston.com. This week’s guest is Dr. Colleen Palmer, Weston superintendent of schools.

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