The Purpose of Scenic Road Designation

Grassy_Hill_RoadThe scenic road designation is a tool to help preserve the rural character of our highways. Pursuant to the provision of Section 7-149a of the Connecticut General Statutes, the East Lyme Planning Commission may designate town highways or portions thereof as scenic roads. The scenic road designation not only encourages sightseeing along a road but, helps preserve it from modifications that would detract from its appearance, such as rerouting or widening. The Town of East Lyme may not designate any state highway or private highway or portions thereof as a scenic road.

Criteria for Scenic Road Designation

To be designated a Scenic Road, the highway or portion thereof must be found to be free of intensive commercial development, free of intensive vehicular traffic and must meet one of the following criteria: it offers scenic views, it’s bordered by mature trees or stone walls, it blends naturally into the surrounding terrain, it parallels or crosses over brooks, streams, lakes or ponds, the traveled portion is no more than 20-feet in width, and/or it is unpaved. In addition, no highway or portion of a highway may be designated as a scenic road unless the owners of a majority of lot frontage abutting the highway or portion of the highway agree to the designation by filing a written statement of approval with the Town Clerk.

Applying for a Scenic Road Designation

As indicated in the Planning Commission’s Scenic Road Brochure, any owner of land located within the town may file an application with the Commission requesting that a town highway or portion thereof be designated as a scenic road. Alternatively, the Commission by motion may initiate the procedures to designate a town highway or portion thereof as a scenic road. Property owners seeking scenic road designation must submit an application to the East Lyme Planning Commission.

Applications requesting the designation of a scenic road must include the following information:

  • written statements of approval to be submitted with the Town Clerk;
  • the name of the town highway and the total length (in feet) of the portion to be designated as a scenic road;
  • a brief description of the town highway and those characteristics of the town highway or portion thereof which meet the criteria identified above; and
  • the names, addresses and the amount of frontage (in feet) of all the owners of lots abutting the town highway or any portion thereof proposed for designation as a scenic road.

Designated Scenic Roads

Roads, once designated as a scenic road, shall not be altered or improved, including but not limited to, widening of the right-of-way or the travel portion of the road, changes in grade or roadway surface treatment, removal of stone bridges, straightening, removal of stone walls, or removal of mature trees, except for good cause determined by the Commission. The Commission may hold a public hearing on any such proposed alteration or improvements if it deems that the public interest would be best served by doing so. A scenic road designation may be rescinded by the Commission, using the same procedure provided for the designation of a scenic road along with the written concurrence of the owners of a majority of lot frontage abutting the highway or portion thereof.

It is worth noting, a scenic road designation will not affect the Town’s obligation to maintain and repair such road by methods and in such a manner as may be necessary to keep the road in a safe passable condition at all times. However, such work is required to preserve the scenic characteristics of the highway as nearly as practicable for which the Commission determines protection is warranted. Although, such work may be performed by or on behalf of the town without prior approval of the Commission. Additionally, any tree trimming, excavating, or maintenance of work performed in a designated scenic road by or on behalf of public service companies may be performed without prior approval of the Commission.