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Cashman Counter-Sues Town For Continued Right To Farm

"Twenty-five years ago we were given a right to have a farm and now those rights are being denied."

 

Clinton businessman Jeff Cashman, who said he's tried everything to calmly resolve a lawsuit from the town over his farm on River Road, has counter-sued the town with his own lawsuit.

"It breaks my heart," he said. "I've always been about 'what can I do for the town I love,' but no one is helping me and no one will listen."

Cashman, owner for 25 years of Sprucey Hill Farm at 66 River Road, is insistent that since he bought the property, it had been approved as a farm.

The town, in their lawsuit to Cashman, said he is violating town regulations over the proper setback of an enclosure since his property is zoned R-80 (residential) and is not zoned as a farm.

Cashman said the alleged violations that the town says he's committing, via Zoning Enforcement Officer Thomas Lane, don't apply to his property because it is a farm.

"The Zoning Commission said I have a legal operation on River Road," said Cashman. "From the Tax Collector, Assessor, Finance Office, etc. they all have paperwork that says we are a farm. I have cancelled checks that prove it."

Cashman says he and his family were given a right to have a farm, and have had one for 25 years. Even if zoning regulations changed over the years, he would be "grandfathered" in.

"How do you go to a 25-year old operating farm and business and shut it down? When you cost me money and shut me down, I'm going to have to do something about it," he said.

Through his attorney David Crow of Orange, Connecticut, they filed a counter-claim in Superior Court in Middletown on Nov. 5.

Here are some points of the claim:

  • The property has been classified by the Town of Clinton as farmland under Public Act #P.A. 63-490 since 1990 and is, therefore, a legally nonconforming use not subject to zoning laws passed after its classification.
  • The designation as farm land was duly recorded on the land records of the Town of Clinton.
  • Use of the farm predates the zoning regulations the town is trying to enforce.
  • The zoning regulations the town seeks to enforce do not define enclosures.

The counter-suit also claims that the Cashman family has endured "emotional distress due to fear of losing their home and income."

They are asking for monetary damages, attorney's fees, a court order to cease the harassment, and other costs and fees. The amount in demand is more than $15,000.

joan November 24, 2012 at 08:27 PM
AMEN, to cleaning house Nov. 2013
John Wayne November 25, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Guess what I just found out!?! I did some digging and came up with the following information: The zoning commission & regulations began in 1965. Section 2.1 of these regulations states that if no building or structure is to be established, no permit is required & no certificate of zoning compliance is needed. This regulation has been on Clinton's zoning books from 1965 - 2011, for 46 years! Does this mean that the ZEO, land use technician, secretary, & commission members weren't aware of this ? In 2012 a change was made in this reg. that would not affect Cashman since he would have been grandfathered in from previous years. I have to wonder... did the involved parties mentioned above recognize the regulation at the time it was changed? According to public records the barn was built by the previous owner, Audrel Dotson. According to the above mentioned Section 2.1 the property was a farm upon completion of the barn. Animals were known to be kept on the property prior to the Cashman's purchase, which some of the current neighbors might even remember. This would mean that Cashman bought a farm when he purchased the 3+ acres. In addition to this, according to public record (Vol.179 / Pg. 332), seven months after purchasing the property Cashman formally registered a new business, Sprucey Hill Nursery Farm with the Town of Clinton. It seems pretty obvious that Cashman IS a farm. I wish Mr. Cashman good luck...us farmers need to stick together!
Stephanie Kinsley Patterson November 26, 2012 at 10:10 PM
It's a shame the Cashman's have been placed in such a difficult position by the town. And I suppose it also speaks to the question of when the town will begin to pick up storm debris left on the side of the every road in my neighborhood. It suggests that the stuff will stay there a long long time because taking it to Cashman's farm to be processed is NOT an option anymore!
Ray Denison December 10, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Jeff Cashman for First Selectman
Art Kuever December 10, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I lived next the Hoppy's (real name Audrel Dotson) son(Tildon) up the road from this residence on Oscela Trail. I also played every outdoor sport on the lawn that used to be there back in the day, so I spent alot of time on that property. There was always, rabbits and other animals around along with a large garden where the cows are now being kept and that fence line is exactly where it is now back then. I remember when that barn was built, to me this was always a farm so all of this seems unwarranted. This is a waste of time and money. Move on.

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