Open Space law approved

By Ruth Longoria

The Open Space Conservancy Trust Board passed the city's new Encroachment Policy concerning private property owners making use of adjoining park land during its Thursday night meeting at City Hall. However, no residents showed up to comment on the proposed policy, possibly because of the snowy weather. Several had voiced their thoughts at previous meetings.

The board has been working on the policy, revising sentences and verbiage for the past year, but was able to come to a lawyer, citizen, and board-approved version of the policy. The board voted 5-0 in favor of the several-times-amended policy.

One important point was establishing that whoever was responsible for the encroachment situation should be expected to remedy it. Some wording was amended to read ``the responsible party'' instead of ``homeowner,'' as to who is responsible for cleanup.

Although the new policy came about primarily because of encroachments onto property at the Island's Pioneer Park, Rita Moore, of the trust board, said it's important that the public be aware that it is not legal to dump garbage on any city land.

The policy, as approved, sets out guidelines for what is to be done about encroachments on public land. Some property owners and others have encroached on the land with trash, wood piles, storage buildings, play structures, fences, improved walkways and even a driveway.

A survey of the 113-acre Pioneer Park showed about 20 infractions around the perimeters of the park.

Although most homeowners were quick to fix the problems, some signed extension agreements, in cases such as a property where a home was built with its only access through park land.

Extension agreements are meant to help homeowners with an encroachment that isn't easily removed, not for debris. An extension can last no longer than three years.

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