Scenic Areas, Vistas and Scenic Roads
an excerpt from the Sharon Natural Resources Inventory
prepared by the Conservation Commission
For purposes of this conservation inventory, a scenic area is defined as a field of vision that creates a remarkable landscape picture. Vistas represent long views both framed and expansive. Because of the topography and the combination of fields, woods, and antique houses in Sharon, the town has an enormous richness of scenic areas and vistas. A visitor can hardly drive on any road in Sharon without passing by a scenic area or vista. Indeed, the town’s natural beauty and scenic views are its principle asset. Our scenery and vistas enrich the spirit of all who see them, create monetary value for our property owners, and are the bedrock of the quality of rural life in Sharon. Every scenic area of town is a God given or man made treasure, which deserves protection. However, landscapes cannot be frozen in time and must give way eventually to the pressures of change and population growth. It is the hope of the ad hoc committee of the conservation committee that growth can be managed so that it minimizes impact on Sharon’s scenic areas and vistas. Our most important scenic areas and vistas are those on our most frequently traveled roads – the gateway roads in and out of the town. These are seen and enjoyed by the most people. They establish the rural character of Sharon. They are also among our most beautiful roads. Following is a listing of some but certainly not all the roads with important scenic areas and vistas in Sharon.
Principle Gateway Roads to Sharon
- Route 41 from Lakeville border approximately 1 mile towards Sharon
- Route 41 from Boland Road to NY border
- Route 4 Johnson and Ellsworth farms area
- Western view on Route 4 between Joray Road and Butter Road
- Millerton Road from Lovers Lane to NY border
- 343 from NY border to Sharon Playhouse Additional Gateway Roads to Sharon
- White Hollow Road, from Eggleston Road to Lakeville/Lime Rock border
- Skiff Mountain Road to Peck’s Pond area approach to and from Kent
Other Areas of Special Scenic Value
- East Street at Surdan Mountain Road area
- East Street at Upper Ridge Road
- Jackson Hill Road from Route 4 to Fairchild Road
- Sharon Mountain Road at Turkowitz Farm
- Mudgetown and Mudge Pond Roads
- Benton Hill Road
- Route 7 from Cornwall Bridge to West Cornwall
State and Town Designated Scenic Roads
Both the State of Connecticut and the town of Sharon have statutes defining and setting up the process for having legally designated scenic roads. In 1987 the Connecticut enacted statute 136 sec 31G enabling towns to pursue scenic road designation for state roads within the township. Soon after, members of the Conservation Commission initiated the application process and compiled pictures, descriptions, and maps to present to the state authority. Consequently, Sharon became one of the earliest towns in the state to have designated scenic roads. Additional roads have been added and at this time all of Route 41 within Sharon and portions of State Highways 7 and 4 have been designated as “State Scenic Roads.” In 1989 Connecticut General Statutes Section 7-149a granted towns the authority to designate Town Roads or portions thereof as Town Scenic Roads. In accordance with that the Conservation Commission drew up an ordinance* which was approved by the voters and became effective on December 22, 1989. Sharon was the second town in the state to approve a Scenic Road Ordinance. The qualities considered include road surface, stone walls, overhead canopy and also views and vistas. At this time Bowne Road, Butter Road, Herb Road, Cole Road, Modley Road and West Woods Road #1 have been designated as “Town Scenic Roads.” Residents or other interested individuals can seek the approval of property owners abutting a road to initiate the process. Virtually all roads in Sharon meet the scenic road criteria, and we anticipate that in the future more roads will be so designated. The state and town statutes deal with the road itself and not the scenic quality of the land along the road so that with visible development along the roads their scenic quality can still be diminished and over time lost completely. New Planning and Zoning regulations could reduce the impact of future development on the scenic value of these roads. For instance, set back requirements could be increased on scenic roads and screening of natural plantings could be required.
However, current town statutes do require the road crews to respect the quality of town designated scenic roads. The roads can be maintained in all respects but there are restrictions on changes in the road. On state roads the D.O.T. is required to warn the town of proposed changes and consult with the town on the resolution. Some actions have been taken without consultation and the conservation commission feels that there should be improvement in state/town communications, particularly with town road changes that require balancing safety concerns with the interest of the property owners. The purpose of scenic road designation is to set the tone of the road and attract owners wishing to maintain its scenic character. Eventually it could influence decisions made with regard to development along scenic roads.