Congamond’s South Pond Sand Pit

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Mary Anne Zak

Mary Anne Zak

Sand is a valuable and lucrative resource.

 After ten years of zoning deliberations, the sand pit at South Pond will be mined again. History shows why that will happen in a residential area where heavy equipment and trucks will travel roads used by school children and buses.

 Concerned citizens may research the long, complex and disturbing history in Town board and commission archives and minutes, regional and local media, and at CLEPO, the website of the Congamond Lake Environmental Protective Organization.

 South Pond residents founded CLEPO when Suffield’s Zoning and Planning Commission voted unanimously three years ago to permit resumption of mining operations in the residential community.

 For more than a decade, homeowners have contended with the Town Zoning and Planning Commission to keep their residential area residential. A hardworking arm of Town governance pressed by rapid local development, Z and P has faced intricate issues of mining, legality, zoning, property rights, environment, ecology, financing and ethics in the South Pond case

 In addition, two former Z and P chairmen are principals of the company that will mine the sand pit. And former legal representatives and firms have maintained confusing ethical stances. Among sectors, betrayal has occurred.

 The varied costs in time, energy, money and stress to property owners, government officials and citizens have been high. A most telling cost is the financial history: in 2005, the Town of Suffield paid the legal costs of arguing against the continued mining operation at South Pond; in 2015 the Town paid some of the cost of arguing in favor of resuming the mining operation.

 The South Pond sand pit history is not one of which Suffield can be proud. But it can and should be mined for positive insights about the need for justice and decency in public and private life, and for insights about local governance, which grows more and more intricate and demanding.

Could a different system of conducting Town affairs have made the South Pond sand pit zoning process more direct? And could a revised Code of Ethics make public service and affairs more healthy?

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