Minutes of Pine Orchard Executive Board Meeting
January 8, 2018
Agenda Item 1: The meeting was called to order by President Robin Sandler at 7:02 pm.
Board members present were: Jon Schlesinger, Peggy Haering, Robert Dahill, Robin Sandler, Matt Moran, Dick Greenalch, Susan Davis, Rick Ross, Niall Ferguson, Linda Giordano. (Seth Chaucer attended the latter portion of meeting)
Joseph Thomas was absent.
Agenda Item 2: Public Comments. Peggy Haering said that snow-plowing on Island View Avenue is a problem. The town plows only one side of the street, leaving residents on the even numbered side of the street buried in snow.
Agenda Item 3: Communications. Robin Sandler read a letter from Peter Hugret encouraging the board to take action to secure all beach access points, including those on Island View Avenue. Peggy Taylor of Sunset Hill Avenue asked about ownership of beach access points and insurance coverage. Jackie Coffey of Island View Avenue said that the board should consider that problems have arisen over beach access points that were formerly felt to be safe. The issue was referred to the beach access committee for recommendations. Ed Kelleher of Halstead Lane asked a question about a report prepared by John Donegan in 2008 and whether any conditions had changed since its preparation. He said that he was concerned about the board spending money on redoing work that had been done before.
The President read an anonymous letter sent to him by a Crescent Bluff resident. The writer of the letter expressed concern about declining property values on Crescent Bluff and asked whether Robin envisioned his role of President as needing to address the situation.
Agenda Item 4: Approval of minutes. Upon motion and second the minutes from the Board meeting on November 6, 2017 were approved. Upon motion and second, the minutes from the Special Board meeting on December 5, 2017 were approved, with Rick Ross abstaining. Upon motion and second, the minutes of the Special Board meeting on December 12, 2017 were approved, with Matt Moran abstaining.
Agenda Item 5. Treasurer’s report. Niall Ferguson presented the Treasurer’s report as of January 5, 2018. Upon motion and second the report was approved
Agenda Item 6. Committee Reports
- By-Laws-Susan Davis indicated that she had nothing to report.
- Nominating—Joe Thomas was absent, there was no report.
- Planning & Zoning—An appeal has been filed in connection with a decision by the Zoning Board of Appeals concerning a property on Crescent Bluff Avenue. Attorney Peter Berdon will represent the ZBA.
- Communications—Jon Schlesinger presented drafts of a logo to be used on POA communications. Trademarking of the logo was discussed.
- Shoreline Maintenance—Linda Giordano reported that she had nothing to report
- Building maintenance—Seth Chaucer was absent; there was no report.
- Municipal Interface—Matt Moran had nothing to report.
- Tax Collection—Rich Ross had nothing to report on tax collections.
- Beautification—Bob Dahill reported that he had received indications of community support for the project and that 8-9 people had volunteered to help. He said that the first project would likely be installation of benches at the triangle of Elizabeth St., Spring Rock Road and Pine Orchard Road.
Agenda Item 7. President’s report. —Robin Sandler reported that he had been approached by the Branford Community Network requesting for access to the POA email list so that the group could communicate with our members about items of interest in the community. It was decided that we would advise our members about the network and allow them to opt-in if they wanted to receive the group’s communications.
Agenda Item 8. Old Business.
- Short term rentals. Dick Greenalch reported on the short-term rentals committee. He said that he and Robin Sandler had a preliminary meeting with Attorney Berdon, who confirmed that the By-Laws give the Board the authority to restrict uses of property in Pine Orchard for single family dwellings. A future report is expected within 30 days or so.
- Crescent Bluff litigation. The action to get the town to declare a public road is pending. Wheeler provided a written summary of the various pieces of litigation affecting Crescent Bluff that he had presented to the RTM.
- Parking issues on Island View Ave. Robin Sandler stated that a letter had been sent to the homeowner regarding blocking of parking spaces on the street but that no response had been received.
- Generator installation at the Pine Orchard office, 180 Pine Orchard Rd. Robin Sandler indicated that plans for installation of a generator and a dehumidifier at the POA building were proceeding and that exterior lighting was also being reviewed.
Agenda Item 9—New Business. None
Agenda Item 10—Office Manager’s report. Peter Robinson detailed a number of initiatives that he has been researching and reviewing. They included having the photos in the Office Building scanned so that they can be preserved, social activities for the Association to consider hosting, such as a July 4th picnic, Halloween party, and musical events at the Chapel. He is working on a quarterly newsletter. He also introduced information about a potential beach reclamation project. The Board determined that he should continue his research but that the matter should not be pursued until further study was conducted. The Board authorized the office manager to pursue installation of smart thermometers in the POA headquarters building and to acquire a color printer for the office.
Agenda Item 10. Other Business. None
Agenda Item 11. Adjournment. Upon motion made and seconded, the Board unanimously voted to adjourn at 8:15 p.m.
Margaret Haering, Clerk
Monday, March 5, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.
Monday, May 7, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.
Monday, July 9, 2018 at 7:00 p.m
At the call of the President, there will be a meeting of the POA Board in the Board Room of the Association Building, 180 Pine Orchard Road, Pine Orchard, Ct on Monday January 8th at 7 PM
- Call to order:
- Public Comments:
- Communications: Peter Hugret, anonymous letter.
- Approval of Minutes of November 06, 2017 meeting & December 5, 2017 & December 12, 2017 special meeting (posted).
- Treasurer’s Report: (Niall)
- Committee reports: a) By-Laws (Susan); b) Nominating (Joe); c) Planning & Zoning (Richard Greenalch); d) Communications (John); e) Shoreline Maintenance & Access (Linda); f) Building Maintenance (Seth); g) Municipal Interface (Matt); h) Tax Collector (Rick); i) Beatification (Bob).
- Presidents report:
- Old Business: A. short term rentals; B. Discussion of Crescent Bluff litigation & POA involvement; C. Parking issues on Island View; D. Generator installation at 180 Pine Orchard Office.
- New business:
- Office manager: Peter Robinson report.
- Other business:
2017 – 2018 Meeting Dates: Monday, January 08, 2018, Monday,
March 05, 2018, & Monday, May 07, 2018, all @ 7:00 PM and at the Pine Orchard office, 180 Pine Orchard Rd, Pine Orchard, Ct
The meeting was called to order by President Robin Sandler at 7:15 p.m. The meeting was held at the Pine Orchard Club.
Board members present were: Robert Dahill, Robin Sandler, Dick Greenalch, Peggy Haering, Niall Ferguson, Linda Giordano, Seth Chaucer, Jon Schlesinger, and Joe Thomas
Matt Moran, Susan Davis and Rick Ross were absent.
President Robin Sandler opened the meeting and invited comments from members of the Association about pending Crescent Bluff litigation to which the Association is a party.
Vin Giordano of Pine Orchard Road favors a common sense solution. He wants Crescent Bluff to remain a bona fide beach access point and said that the Association will be at risk of losing access if it does not defend its position where they are challenged.
Gerry Garlick, an attorney representing Barbara Sagasse and Beachcroft LLC, said that it had been established that Crescent Bluff is not a public beach assess point. He said that the Court felt that the Association should be added as a party if it was claiming that Crescent Bluff is a public road. He reviewed various court rulings regarding ownership of the street and the lawn and expressed the opinion that the Association had no right to claim a prescriptive easement. He said that his pending motion for summary judgement would be argued in February 2018 and questioned why the Association would want to use taxpayer money to challenge his client’s position.
Bob Dahill asked Attorney Garlick about the characteristics of the lawn/stairs/beach area and pointed out that regardless of the tide you can use the stairs at the end of the lawn to access the remains of the old promenade and walk west completing the loop from Crescent Bluff to Spring Rock Road or Spring Rock beach. Attorney Garlick agreed.
Stephan Ariyan of Yowago Avenue said that a walkway had been erected by the Association at the end of the street in order to create waterfront access for neighbors of Crescent Bluff. He felt the Association has greater rights to defend and said that he did not care about ownership of the property as long as members have access.
Rich Colbert of Halstead Lane asked for an explanation of the claims of the association and a summary of the facts to support them. Attorney Garlick responded that the Association had filed a statement of interest that it had a prescriptive easement. Mr. Colbert offered the opinion that it was difficult to prove such claims and recommended that a subcommittee be formed to review the situation and to make recommendations.
Hap Storer of Grove Avenue encouraged the board to attempt to establish its position in court.
The Association’s attorney, Peter Berdon, stated that many of the court decisions cited by attorney Garlick were subject to appeal and said that there had been questionable rulings, including a motion in limine that precluded presentation of certain evidence at trial. There was discussion of the legal standards for obtaining a prescriptive easement by the general public.
Vin Giordano asked whether a prescriptive easement was necessary for members of the public to pass and repass over the lawn and whether implied rights were created by the Baker plan. Attorney Garlick said that the court has ruled that the public has no rights and that the implied easement was limited to residents of Crescent Bluff Avenue. Mr. Giordano said that he wanted the Association to preserve rights of the public to cross the lawn to get to the beach.
Teresa Storer of Grove Avenue said that an esplanade had been built by the Association from Selden Avenue to the Point and that the Association built and paid for that sidewalk. She said that for years people have been crossing the lawn to use the beach at Crescent Bluff and that there was never a gate at Crescent Bluff. She urged that attorney Berdon be involved in trying to preserve prescriptive rights.
Niall Ferguson asked for clarification of the issue to be decided by the pending motions for summary judgment. Attorney Garlick responded that the issue was whether the Association and general public have a prescriptive easement over the lawn at Crescent Bluff. Niall asked whether Attorney Garlick’s client was adamant that no one could use the lawn without being a resident of Crescent Bluff. Mr. Garlick responded that in his view no one else has a right to be there.
Vin Giordano suggested that a relatively easy solution to resolve the issue would be for Attorney Garlick to advise his client to allow Association members to pass and repass over the lawn.
Dean Leone of Crescent Bluff Avenue said that people used to kayak from the end of the street; they sat on the beach and enjoyed the area on many levels. A common raft was placed offshore. One reason Pine Orchard is enjoyable, he said, is because of the shoreline access. People used to walk the shoreline circuit. He feels it is important to preserve the sense of community. In his view, this issue is not limited to just a few houses on Crescent Bluff; it involves the whole community.
Eric Rose of Yowago Avenue asked what it must feel like to be one of the people on the wrong end of the avenue. He felt that we should let this thing go to summary judgment.
Vin Giordano asked whether, if the Association filed an opposition to the summary judgment, the plaintiffs would be able to modify the prescriptive easement issue regarding the Association or the Town of Branford. Attorney Berdon indicated that the plaintiffs’ position was that access to the lawn was limited to Crescent Bluff residents.
Rich Colbert asked how much the Association has spent on the Crescent Bluff litigation. Treasurer Niall Ferguson responded that he did not have precise figures on the litigation as opposed to other legal work. He indicated that roughly $30,000 was spent on legal fees between FY 2012 and 2013, but not all of that was related to litigation. In FY 2014 and FY 2015 legal fees were $2000 and $1300 respectively. In FY 2016, legal fees totaled $9000. Not all of those fees were related to the litigation.
Hap Storer inquired whether the Board would be able to post any decision that was made online before the minutes were posted.
Curt O’Connor of Chapel Drive wanted to know what was driving the litigation and whether the Association membership had been abusive of Ms. Sagasse’s rights and if there had been any attempt to resolve the dispute.
Attorney Berdon stated that the Wheelers tried to resolve the dispute as to the width of the lawn and right of way. However, there were other issues regarding limitation of the hours of access and inability of residents to “loiter” on the lawn area. He said that restrictions are an issue because the lawn is a projection of Crescent Bluff Avenue as it goes down to the Sound. Many residents want to be able to use the stairs to access the beach or turn right to make the loop to Spring Rock Road.
Celia Wheeler of Crescent Bluff Avenue said that she was probably the longest resident of Crescent Bluff Avenue. She described different groups on the street—those nearest the water and those occupying rear lots. She resides on a rear lot and feels that she has been caught in the middle of this dispute. She feels that the ongoing litigation has devalued our property and made it impossible to sell. No one wants to live on our street, she said. When her family first came to Crescent Bluff the street and the lawn were open. Kids played on the street and had access to all the yards. She described an incident when her adult daughter returned to the street and went down to the beach with her children. Someone came out and ordered them off—claiming that it was private property. Her daughter was very upset. Mrs. Wheeler said this is a very bad situation and we have to fight it.
Upon motion and second at 8:35 p.m., the board voted unanimously to go into executive session to discuss litigation strategy with its attorney.
At 9:45 p.m., the Board came out of executive session. No votes were taken during the executive session.
Peggy Haering moved to authorize the President to appoint a committee to pursue mediation of the issues relating to access at the end of Crescent Bluff Avenue and to authorize the Association’s attorney to respond to the pending motions for summary judgment based upon the strategy discussed. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.
Upon motion and second, the Board voted to adjourn the meeting at 9:48 p.m.
Margaret Haering, Clerk
Minutes of Pine Orchard Executive Board Special Meeting
December 5, 2017
The meeting was called to order by President Robin Sandler at 7:04 p.m.
Board members present were: Peggy Haering, Robert Dahill, Robin Sandler, Matt Moran, Dick Greenalch, Susan Davis, Niall Ferguson, Linda Giordano, and Joe Thomas.
Seth Chaucer, Jon Schlesinger, and Rick Ross were absent.
President Robin Sandler opened the meeting, which was for the purpose of discussing pending litigation to which the Association is a party. He advised that that later in the meeting the board would likely go into executive session to discuss litigation strategy and that Association members in attendance would have to leave the meeting.
Robin said that because some of the present Board members were not on the Board when the Crescent Bluff litigation began it would be beneficial for them to understand what went on prior to their joining the Board. Robin introduced the Association’s attorney, Peter Berdon, to provide that background.
Attorney Berdon has represented the Association in the Crescent Bluff litigation since 2012. He provided a brief review of various pieces of litigation involving Crescent Bluff Avenue. Mr. Berdon stated that litigation regarding Crescent Bluff Avenue has been going on for 110 years. He characterized the issues as complex, and the facts as numerous.
He noted that the Crescent Bluff sub-division was laid out in the 1800s and that properties were sold by reference to a recorded plat, known as the Baker Map. He said there is a common law doctrine that sales of property by reference to a map usually convey a right to pass and repass over the common areas shown on the map, specifically an area known as the Lawn, which was next the beach on Long Island Sound.
Mr. Berdon said that a pier and a promenade were originally erected at the end of Crescent Bluff Avenue. The first litigation occurred in the late 1880’s when a hurricane caused significant damage to the bulkhead. One property owner started to rebuild a seawall to protect his (beachfront) property but owners of the interior lots on Crescent Bluff Avenue sought an injunction to prevent him from modifying their beach access. This case, known as Fisk v. Ley , resulted in a judgment that interior lot owners had an easement to use the lawn and the beach, which could not be blocked by erection of a seawall.
For 90 years there was no further litigation concerning Crescent Bluff. However, since the early 2000’s there have been a number of recent cases over use of the lawn area to access the beach on Crescent Bluff. The central dispute in these cases is a conflict between beachfront property owners (Beachcroft, McBurney and Lowlicht) and the rights of interior or rear lot owners to use the Lawn area at the end of the Avenue to access the beach and Sound and the scope of those rights.
In a matter known as Wheeler v. Beachcroft, an interior lot owner claims that Crescent Bluff Avenue and the lawn are a public way, challenging Beachcroft’s position that the avenue is a private road. The Association has been added as a defendant in that case. The association is also a party in a matter designated as McBurney v. Wihbey. Motions for Summary Judgment have been filed in the Wheeler matter and are due in the Wihbey matter shortly. In the matter of Wheeler v. Cosgrove, an interior lot owner has recently filed an action against the Branford first selectman based on refusal to lay out a public road.
Upon motion and second, the Board unanimously voted to go into executive session to discuss strategy in connection with the pending litigation.
At approximately 8:53 the Board voted to come out of executive session. No votes were taken during the executive session. The Board decided to hold a special meeting for the next week, on a date to be determined, to further consider the pending litigation.
Adjournment. Upon motion made and seconded, the Board unanimously voted to adjourn at 8:55 p.m.
Margaret Haering, Clerk
PINE ORCHARD ASSOCIATION
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2017 @7:00 PM
180 Pine Orchard Road
The Pine Orchard Association Executive Board will meet
on TUESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2017 @7:00 PM, to consider the
1) To hear a report from POA Attorney Peter Berdon concerning
past, present & future litigation as it relates to the Pine Orchard
Association’s rights to beach access from Crescent Bluff.
Robin Bruce Sandler
President, Pine Orchard Association
Dated this 27 day of November, 2017
Click HERE to view a PDF of the Pine Orchard Association Treasurer’s Budget Report as of 11/06/2017
PINE ORCHARD ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVE BOARD SPECIAL MEETING NOTICE AND AGENDA MONDAY, NOVEMBER 06, 2017 @ 8:00 PM
At the call of the President, there will be a meeting of the Board in the Board Room of the Association Building, 180 Pine Orchard Road, Pine Orchard, Ct
- Call to order
- Public Comments
- Approval of Minutes of September 11, 2017 meeting (posted)
- Treasurer’s Report (Niall)
- Committee reports a) By-Laws (Susan) b Nominating (Joe) c) Planning & Zoning (Richard Greenalch) (d) Communications (John) e) Shoreline Maintenance & Access (Linda) f) Building Maintenance (Seth) g) Municipal Interface (Matt) h) Tax Collector (Rick)
- Presidents report: Parking issues on Island View, Attorney contact, Duties & Responsibilities of a board member.
- Old Business: A. short term rentals
- New business: A. Discussion of Beautification Committee by Robert Dahill B. Discussion of Crescent Bluff litigation expense & POA involvement C. Selden Avenue D. Generator installation at 180 Pine Orchard Office.
- Office manager report: Peter Robinson
- Other business:
2017 – 2018 Meeting Dates:
Monday, November 06, 2017, Monday, January 08, 2018, Monday, March 05, 2018, & Monday, May 07, 2018,
All @ 8:00PM and at the Pine Orchard office, 180 Pine Orchard Rd, Pine Orchard, CT.
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS
THE PINE ORCIIARD ASSOCIATION
PINE ORCHARD, CONNECTICUT
At a meeting of the Pine Orchard Association Zoning Board of Appeals held on October 16, 2017 at the Pine Orchard Association Municipal Building following a public hearing The Pine Orchard Zoning Board of Appeals made the following decisions and took the following action:
GRANTED the application of Charles C. RIngsley, Trustee, for variance of the buildable lot size requirement in Section VI and of the Zoning Ordinance in order to construct a house at 44 Crescent Bluff Avenue
WITH THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:
(1) removal of the existing structure on the premises;
(2) any new structure will have a “footprint” of no more than 1200 square feet and will conform to the dimensions shown on Exhibit 5 introduced at the hearing on October 16, 2017 and on file in the Pine Orchard Association office;
(3) said structure to have a maximum height of twenty feet and one floor of living space; and
(4) conformity with all other zoning requirements.