The General Assembly has passed a bill and sent it to the Governor for his signature to implement recommendations of the state Department of Transportation. One of the provisions is that the DOT Commissioner issue a request for proposals for the sale of goods within the highway right-of-way in the area of 300 Ethan Allen Highway in Ridgefield.
This stems from an issue going back a few years where a vendor was ordered to stop selling food from that location. The Zawack Shack, a popular food truck which operated for more than a decade, approached the town for help to structure a lease agreement with the DOT after being shut down. When the owners tried to obtain a lease for the area when they opened the business, the request was denied, but the state allowed them to operate if the town signed off and they had insurance. They did both.
Under previous regulations, the state could sell, lease or enter into agreement for highway purpose.
The bill passed in the House on a vote of 147 to 3 and in the Senate 27 to 9. New Milford Senator Craig Miner introduced an amendment for historic structures that pre-date the permitting process, stating that they could not be removed or forced to leave the right-of-way. Newtown Senator Tony Hwang says the Ridgefield provision in the bill signals support for the amendment since it speaks to the selectivity of use of state rights-of-way.
Ridgefield Senator Will Haskell says the carveout is not for a specific vendor, but rather for an area that the town has invested in through the installation of picnic tables. The amendment failed to be adopted.