Here, and hot off the press, are some sobering gleanings from an ongoing assessment of conservation and development trends in NW Connecticut by the Litchfield Hills Greenprint:
- Harwinton, Connecticut adds about 20 new housing units each year. So far this year, permit applications for new construction in Harwinton total more than 100 new residential units.
- Between 1985 and 2002, Watertown, Connecticut had the fastest rate of conversion from open space to development of any community in the Litchfield Hills (+22%). Watertown averaged 69 new residential housing units a year between 1990 and 2005. During that same period, the Watertown Land Trust was able to save 5.5 acres a year.
- New Milford, Connecticut lost 1,105 acres of forest land between 1985 and 2002 and added 770 acres of developed land in the same period.
- Litchfield County lost 127 farms and 7,601 acres of farmland between 1997 and 2002. Connecticut loses between 8,000-10,000 acres of agricultural land each year, and at the current rate will have no farm land left to conserve in 35 years.
- While the average farm size in Litchfield County was 119 acres in 2002, 21% of these were smaller than 10 acres and nearly 56% were smaller than 50 acres. Connecticut has just 30 farms greater than 1,000 acres. 11 of these are in Litchfield County, including 2 or the 4 farms in the state larger than 2,000 acres.
- The assessed value of undeveloped "back land" has more than tripled in Goshen, Connecticut from $3,000/acre to $10,000 acre.
- The federally threatened bog turtle has fewer than 5 known population occurrences in the state of Connecticut and may no longer be viable here. Michael Klemens, noted herpetologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, predicts that if trends continue, the bog turtle could be extirpated in Connecticut in the next decade.
- The town of Bethlehem, Connecticut is the only locality within the Litchfield Hills Greenprint without any local zoning. There are only 6 parcels of unprotected land greater than 100 acres in Bethlehem, and just 39 unprotected parcels greater than 50 acres.
- A proposed luxury development on 46 acres in Sharon, Connecticut with more than 80 housing units is able to bypass local zoning because it includes at least 30% affordable units and less than 10% of the Town's housing stock is classified "affordable." Affordable for Sharon is more than $250,000.
- Between 1991-1995, Goshen Connecticut added about 14 new housing units each year. From 1996-2000 it added 25 new units a year. From 2001-2005, the rate was 44 new units. Goshen is now the 5th fastest growing locality in the state.
Read 'em and weep.