People interested in learning how the local lay of the land has changed during the past five years have a simple way to find out, now that the town has posted a new set of color aerial photos of Newtown’s terrain on the Internet.
The photos are posted on the town’s geographic information system (GIS) website, http://maps.newtown-ct.gov.
Besides the new aerial photos, recently updated town GIS data includes the revised real estate property valuations produced for the town. A significant drop in local real estate values followed the recent revaluation of properties.
In the GIS, planimetric mapping is used to indicate the presence of buildings, structures, and pavement, among other physical features.
Besides the planimetric mapping, alternate aerial views of the local landscape are provided by the color 2012 aerial photos, color 2007 aerial photos, and black and white 2002 aerial photos.
Both the mapping and the photos are scalable, allowing either broad or closeup views of given areas.
Steven Birney, the GIS software specialist at the town’s Technology and GIS Department, suggests a variety of locations where change on the local landscape is very evident when viewing the 2012, the 2007, and the 2002 aerial photos.
These include the Fairfield Hills campus at 46 Mile Hill Road, where several buildings have been demolished at the former state psychiatric hospital and some new structures have been created, including the Newtown Youth Academy and a new baseball field.
Also, at the Newtown High School campus at 12 Berkshire Road, the 2012 aerial photos indicate a large building addition, as well as athletic field improvements.
At Watkins Drive, a ring road that extends from Oakview Road, the 2012 photos show the completed 54-unit Regency at Newtown age-restricted condominium complex. The 2007 photos show the complex partially built. The 2002 photos were taken before construction began.
Another area where the 2012 photos show significant change is 201 South Main Street. The 2012 photos show a vacant industrial site. The 2007 pictures show the Blue Linx building-materials supply deport there. Blue Linx demolished all the structures on the property following the heavy snowfall during the winter of 2011, which cause several roof collapses at the site.
The 2012 photos also show various residential construction that has occurred on dead-end streets during the past several years. These residential subdivisions are located at Anthony Ridge Road off Hanover Road, and Ridge Valley Road off High Bridge Road.
In the GIS network, multiple layers of information may be added or subtracted, as needed, to create customized maps holding various levels and types of details. These detail layers include zoning districts, floodplains, trails, topographic contour lines, police patrol sectors, fire districts, water districts, sewer districts, historic districts, open space, wetlands, aquifer protection areas, aquifer recharge areas, fire suppression facilities, surface water quality, groundwater quality, school districts and individual land uses as of 2002.
Planimetric mapping is the graphical foundation of the town’s GIS. These maps are based on the aerial photos that were taken in 2002. It is expected that the planimetric mapping would be revised in the future to reflect the detail shown in the 2012 photos.
The 900 aerial photos taken of the town in April 2012 were electronically joined to form a seamless photomosaic image, which when viewed on a computer monitor appears to be one huge photo.
Those aerial photos were taken at a time of year when vegetation was dormant, providing overhead views unobstructed by foliage. The photos were taken when shadows were minimal to maximize the illuminated detail.
Golden Aerial Surveys, Inc of Hawleyville produced the aerial photos for the town.