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Board of Selectmen: Book Ban, Call for Volunteers for New Housing Committee, 190 Sharon Turnpike & STEAP Funds, Speed Humps

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Photo: Pavement speed humps on Garden Street in Farmington were Discussed by 1st Selectman Todd Carusillo at a meeting with the Woodridge Lake Safety Committee for possible use on Goshen town roads./Goshen News staff photo

Eric Warner


Following a brief First Selectman’s report, the selectmen went to Public Comment. Marissa Wright, owner of Wright Farm, suggested the board allow town residents to become involved in the development of the new Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD). “I believe it is imperative that the public and various non-profit stakeholders, commissions, commission members, and other interested parties within the town have an opportunity to provide valuable input and an opportunity to be actively involved in the creation of the revised document,” said Wright. “... Dhe further stated that a land use facilitator lead this process and that the revision of the plan should be an open and transparent process.” Land use facilitators typically assist and guide parties involved in land use projects, processes, and procedures with dispute resolution and decision making. Selectman Kinsella supported Wright’s call for public input in the creation of a POCD and noted Goshen has utilized a land use facilitator multiple times in the past. First Selectman Todd Carusillo advised that the town has two years to develop a POCD and ensured that a town meeting will be held to discuss what may need to be changed to the plan and vote on it once it’s formed.

Economic Development Commission member George Motel read a letter requesting farm equipment property tax exemptions be increased to $200,000 for qualifying farms. The letter was signed by commission chairperson Henrietta Horvay, Agricultural Council chairman Clint Thorn, and Goshen Business Circle member Amy Breakell. “Our farm community has seen inflation undercut and grossly dilute the benefit of this program,” Motel read. “As a result, a program that was designed to provide a tax break for farmers no longer has a significant impact… Increasing the exemption will also encourage farmers to reinvest and diversify their operations to meet market needs.” Farm equipment tax exemptions thresholds are currently set to $100,000 but municipalities can offer exemptions up to $200,000. The letter also asked support in calling for the state legislature to increase the state tax exemption threshold to $500,000. It claimed the tax exemption increase will help preserve Goshen farms and support farmers' right to farm. Carusillo claimed he will “seriously consider” this proposal.


First Selectman Todd Carusillo reported that Public Works Supervisor Garret Harlow advised against accepting either of the bids received for rock crushing and materials processing services because the bids were too high. It will go back out to bid.

Most of the meeting dealt with the recent discovery of a book improperly removed from the Goshen Public Library. Last summer, the autobiographical, graphic novel Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe had all of its copies removed from the young adult section by Library Board of Directors President Henrietta Horvay after several complaints were received about it. This went against the library’s protocol for dealing with book complaints. The book has been in the library for two years. Several town residents spoke in public comment against the book’s removal, citing fears of potential book burnings and further bannings.

“No Connecticut town library has banned a book in the history of the state,” said Friends of the Library member and former bookstore owner Joyce Mowrey. “It would look very bad if Goshen became the first… If you don’t want your child to read a book, that is your choice, but you do not get to decide what other children read. That is not your job, and that is not your right.” Mowrey explained that the Goshen Library Board adopted a resolution two years ago to never ban a book. It should be noted that this was technically a book removal, not an official banning. Mowrey added that the library’s process when addressing book complaints includes filing a Request for Reconsideration form which requires the complainant to identify themselves and acknowledge that they have actually read the book in its entirety. Those forms are then sent to the Library Director for review. Selectman Dexter Kinsella said he’s not a fan of banning books and advised residents to just not read books they’re not a fan of, “If there’s a material in the library that people find offensive, it’s my opinion that you don’t read it then… If the procedure for removal of a book from the library was not followed and it was done arbitrarily, that keeps me up at night too. There’s a policy in place and that policy should be followed.” Carusillo said the Library Board of Directors would address the removal at their next meeting on February 21st.

banned books

Selectman Scott Olson suggested that Goshen rewrite its Town Housing Plan alongside the upcoming, new Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD). “ is also time now to explore rewriting our town’s housing plan… A plan that really represents the interests and the will of the people,” said Olson. “A housing plan that is designed to protect the town, that recognizes that this town is different from many other towns, that we are a watershed town.” He proposed the board create a housing plan committee to help rewrite the housing plan. This motion was tabled till the next selectmen meeting.


First Selectman Todd Carusillo reported that three men attempted to break into cars near Woodridge Lake. “Those three men trying to break into some cars and a shed over on Bentley Circle,” Carusillo explained. “So check your Ring cameras if you got Ring cameras and you live on Bentley Circle. And then we have a report, two calls over to Weldon of a man looking in Windows at 2 am in the morning.” All of these incidents were reported to state police. Carusillo received several calls of bears taking down bird feeders, trash cans, and one instance of an attack on a woman’s chicken coop. Eversource will begin asking residents for permission to trim trees on their property to prevent damage to power lines. 12 properties have already denied Eversource access to their trees.

In Public Comment, several residents called for town vote to keep the 190 Sharon Turnpike property on Route 4 as protected open space. Marissa Wright, owner of Wright Farm, received over 200 signatures for a petition to keep the site as open space and claimed the town does not need a new storage facility due to the town’s stagnant population, “The existing public works is adequate to store equipment. The population is stable and has not shown significant growth over decades. From 2000 to 2021, Goshen had an annual population growth rate of only 0.81%.” Marianne Stilson agreed that the town should vote on what happens to the property but believed they should approve construction to keep the state’s $500,000 STEAP grant. Robin Christopher requested to see the Goshen Fire Company and Public Works Department's needs assessments.


“We are looking for people in town who are interested in serving on this housing committee,” said Olson. “…Send an email or letter to the Board of Selectmen, expressing why it is that you have a desire to be on this and what you feel it is that you bring to the table.”

For New Business, Scott Olson expanded upon his suggestion from the prior selectmen meeting to create a housing plan committee that would develop a new housing plan alongside the new POCD. Goshen’s current housing plan was adopted in 2022 but faced with significant public opposition, the Planning & Zoning Commission voted against incorporating it into the POCD. Olson suggested the committee develop a plan that can be incorporated into the new POCD with community support. “What I suggest is that we make the announcement that we are looking for people in town who are interested in serving on this housing committee,” said Olson. “To send an email or letter to the Board of Selectmen, expressing why it is that you have a desire to be on this and what you feel it is that you bring to the table… Ideally our town should have a housing plan that is in fact incorporated into our POCD. I think that’s important.” Olson’s motion to form the housing committee to critique, review, and update or change Goshen’s current housing plan was unanimously approved. Residents have until Friday, April 5th to submit their applications for the housing committee to the selectmen.

Public Works Supervisor Garret Harlow reported that the Goshen Fire Company decided not to go forward in using the proposed storage facility at 190 Sharon Turnpike. Instead, they plan on expanding storage at their current 181 Sharon Turnpike location. Despite this change, Harlow still plans on constructing a storage facility along Route 4 but the facility will now be smaller. “We would like to remove those four bays, taking the building down in size from approximately 160 feet long to 120 feet long. Reducing the garage square footage area from 12,800 square feet to 9,600 square feet.” The selectmen unanimously approved this change and allowed Harlow to submit these plans to the Planning and Zoning Commission. However, Kinsella noted that this plan is a “placeholder” project and requested residents who have alternate locations for the storage facility to identify them during March’s PZC public hearing.


First Selectman Todd Carusillo reported that he met with the Woodridge Lake Property Owners Association Safety Committee and that they discussed having speed humps placed along East Hyerdale Drive to curtail speedsters. Carusillo will research utilizing paved speed humps. The Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency (CIRMA) approved this concept as long as signs are placed along the road notifying drivers of the bumps and the bumps are painted with warning indicators. Carusillo further reported that most Goshen side roads are ineligible to receive speed cameras due to the town’s low car accident rate. According to the Office of the State Traffic Administration, municipality roads must have at least two crashes over a three-year period in order to receive the cameras, among other requirements. In light of this, Carusillo suggested the town consider establishing a police department or have the town covered with speed bumps to stop speedsters. Public Works Supervisor Garret Harlow will contact the Southbury-based S&S Asphalt Paving for an estimated price for paved speed bumps and Carusillo will contact Farmington and West Hartford to learn how they established their speed bumps. Carusillo ended his report by notifying residents that Eversource is cutting trees north of Route 63 and police will be conducting radar patrols next week.

Recreation Department Director Erin Reilly addressed the selectmen’s concerns over her proposed office move to the Camp Cochipianee Kobylenski Lodge’s west wing. In a detailed letter of rebuttal to the concerns expressed by the Selectmen, Reilly claimed she could temporarily move her office in the lodge when it’s used for early voting. She believes there should be no increase in liability and there should not be any increase in maintenance costs since she will help clean up after every event. Additional revenue generated from proposed events could be used to cover any maintenance or building repair costs. She does not intend to reclassify the space as a senior center but suggested hosting more events for seniors. She said the Garden Club, Quilters Club, Boy Scouts, and American Legion, who use the Lodge, all approved the proposed move, “They feel that [the move] would enhance the quality of programs and opportunities for socialization that Goshen is lacking without a ‘community center’ and feel this move would be a good way to fill that need.”

Scott Olson saw this reconfiguration of the west wing as a disadvantage for the town in the event the town needs to use the space for a gathering or other future uses. In contrast, Kinsella claimed the west wing is underutilized and saw Reilly’s move as a beneficial presence to the camp. Carusillo requested Reilly return next week with a detailed map of her estimated square footage usage of the space.