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STATE WATER PLAN ARTICLE FROM FAIRFIELD CITIZEN

Connecticut regulators approve sale of Aquarion

As expected, Connecticut regulators approved Aquarion Water’s $1.7 billion sale to Eversource Energy, combining the largest energy and water companies in the state even as Eversource revealed plans to increase electricity rates beginning next May. Eversource is paying $880 million in cash and assuming another $795 million in Aquarion debt to acquire the water company from Macquarie, with Aquarion’s assets valued at $1.1 billion as of March. Under CEO Chuck Firlotte, Aquarion generated revenue of $181 million last year from its Connecticut operations, and profits of $39.7 million. In Connecticut, the company serves some 625,000 customers. Read more here.

Saddle Ridge legal challenges proceed through courts

The proposed development plan for the 124-acre Saddle Ridge property, which would include single-family homes and duplex units, with 30% of them to be designated as affordable housing.

Legal challenges to the approved Saddle Ridge housing development are slowly working their way through the courts, with no clear indication when written briefs might be filed or oral arguments will take place.

The Planning and Zoning Commission’s unanimous vote in March is being appealed by entities that both favor and oppose the controversial plan, which would have 20 affordable housing units out of 66 total units.

The developer, consisting of Saddle Ridge Developers LLC and Silver Sport Associates LP, is upset with some of the many conditions — or restrictions — put on the project’s approval by the P&Z. The Coalition to Save Easton, a group affiliated with the Citizens For Easton organization that has long focused on retaining the town’s rural character, wants the P&Z decision overturned.

The two lawsuits have been consolidated by the court and transferred to the state’s Superior Court land-use docket, and will be heard by Judge Marshall Berger. In a previous lawsuit involving a different development proposal by the Saddle Ridge developer at the same site, Berger denied the developer’s appeal and ruled in favor of the P&Z’s rejection of that project.

A conference call on the pending case for representatives of the participating parties has been scheduled for Oct. 3. A previous conference call took place Aug. 22.

The P&Z is being represented by attorney Ira Bloom of the Berchem Moses firm, who handles many matters for the town; the developer’s attorney is Matthew Ranelli of Shipman & Goodwin; and the coalition’s legal representative is attorney Janet P. Brooks, an environmental specialist.

Bloom said the judge has asked lawyers involved in the case to report in about once a month on their status in the litigation.

In the future, the attorneys will be given a date to submit written briefs by the judge and then a date set to hear oral arguments. “But that’s a ways down the road,” Bloom said.

Ranelli, the developer’s attorney, said he could offer no comment at this time. Ranelli also represented the developer in front of the P&Z during the application process.

Brooks, the Coalition to Save Easton’s lawyer, could not be reached for comment.

William J. Kupinse Jr., one of three interveners in the case on behalf of the coalition, said the case remains in “its preliminary stages. Like most litigation, it will drag along for awhile and eventually be heard by the court.”

Kupinse, a former Easton first selectman, is a practicing attorney but is not involved in this case as a legal representative, but as a town resident on behalf of the coalition. The two other coalition members listed in court papers are Leslie Minasi and Verne Gay.

The P&Z has met to discuss the legal case in executive session — which are closed to the public and media — several times before regular meetings in recent months.

P&Z Chairman Robert Maquat said he doesn’t believe any formal legal documents other than the original lawsuit papers — called “complaints” in legal jargon — have been filed with the court. “We’re kind of in a holding pattern,” Maquat said.

The project, the appeals

As approved, Saddle Ridge would have 30 single-family homes as well as 18 duplex structures with an additional 36 living units. All structures would be on lots of at least one acre, with about one-third of the overall site kept as homeowners’ association-owned open space. Each of the 48 lots would be served by individual septic systems and wells.

The development, known as Easton Crossing, would be built on a 110-acre site that had been zoned for three-acre, single-family houses.

The application was filed under the state’s affordable housing law, known as statute 8-30g, which puts an extra burden on local land-use boards when rejecting an application.

In its appeal, the developer claims the P&Z’s numerous conditions of approval “essentially denies Saddle Ridge’s application because it will have a substantial adverse impact on the viability and degree of affordability of Saddle Ridge’s development.”

The appeal states the P&Z’s 77 conditions “do not clearly outweigh the need for affordable housing in Easton” and “could have been addressed by reasonable changes to the application plans.”

The Coalition to Save Easton, in its lawsuit, questions having have one septic system for each two-unit duplex structure based on a town ordinance, the P&Z concluding a new inland wetlands application wasn’t needed, and if the project’s regional environmental impact was fully vetted.

 

In addition to the above article published in the Easton Courier, the project is reasonably likely to have the effect of unreasonable polluting the waters  of the State as concluded by our experts,.  And, as partially stated in the last paragraph in the Courier article, the project contains community septic, which is contrary to Town Ordinance. Also, among our other concerns, the application bypassed the Conservation Commission usurping their role in determining the licensing of regulated activities .

Funding for State Open Space Grant Program at Risk

A final State biennial budget may be voted on tomorrow, Thursday (9/14). Contact your legislators to maintain Community Investment Act (CIA) funding. The CIA is the only consistent source of funding for the State’s Open Space & Watershed Land Acquisition program. Continued cuts to CIA funds jeopardizes the amount of money available for the current grant round and the very future of the OSWA program. For more information and a list of legislators, click here.

New location for Easton Farm Tour draws big crowds

Guests at the Easton Farm Tour visit the various booths. — Jean Stetz-Puchalski photo

Easton Courier – By Jane Paley, Special to The Courier on August 17, 2017

The ninth annual Farm Tour hosted by Citizens for Easton brought lots of families, many from the greater Fairfield area, to town in celebration of Easton’s farms and farm stands. The new venue at Samuel Staples Elementary School offered space for a community picnic and pick-up kickball and soccer games, following the launch of the tour. It included 12 stops at farms and sites of historical interest. This year, the Garden Club offered a flower-planting event, a favorite of visiting children, who potted sunflower seedlings and took them home to grow.

Representatives from Master Gardeners and Composters, the Aspetuck Land Trust, Agricultural Commission and Easton Historical Society also participated in the day’s events on Saturday, Aug. 12. The Farm Tour free prize drawing, a relatively new addition to the event, produced nine winners, who received gift certificates from the Aspetuck Apple Barn, Sabia Tree Farm, the Bluebird Inn, the Westport Farmers Market, Maple Row Farm, Shaggy Coos Farm, the Easton Village Store, Sport Hill Farm and Silverman’s. The day highlighted Easton’s agricultural roots and celebrated its valuable significance to the community. The larger site provided young and old a chance to have good, old-fashioned fun at the picnic, now a new tradition.

Farm Tour – Rain or Shine at New Venue @ Samuel Staples Elementary School

Join us for the 9th Annual CFE Easton Farm Tour – Saturday, August 12, from 10am to 2pm. This celebration of Easton, a local farming community within Fairfield County CT, is a self-guided tour of Easton farms. This year we have moved our home base to Samuel Staples Elementary School Pavilion, 515 Morehouse Road, Easton, Connecticut. Here visitors check in to pick up a map, enjoy old timey games, get a bite to eat while getting the details on which farms are doing what when. Why move? We are growing and the SSES Pavilion provides a home with more parking, room for food trucks, a field for games and the perfect space for a Community Picnic to follow the Farm Tour.

Fun for the whole family! Come and enjoy the many year-round farming delights that Easton offers. Enjoy tastings, pony rides, antique farm tool exhibit, hayrides, old-time fun and games, petting zoo, greenhouse tours, Easton grown and harvested veggies and fruit fresh from the farm, and pick your own activities.

Visit the Easton participating farms to discover the opportunities to shop year-round seasonal food, gifts, agricultural products and services. Easton provides fresh veggies, fruit, honey, eggs, mulch, herbs, meat, flowers, Christmas trees, horseback riding, educational events, classes on growing, pollinating, animal husbandry, bee keeping, and healthy eating. Learn what farming was like for children and adults 100 years from the Easton Historical Society at the Historic Bradley-Hubbell House Farm and antique tool demonstration.

Citizens For Easton (CFE), event sponsor, invites you to come on back to the green throughout the afternoon to enjoy food and entertainment on the green and visit with some of the Easton organizations who support our Easton farmers and farmland preservation. Visit their booth for an opportunity to enter “big red basket raffle” and learn about the CFE mission to preserve Easton’s rural qualities and open space. To learn more about the  CFE mission visit https://citizensforeaston.org/about/.

Skinny Pines – an Easton-based purveyor of wood-fired pizza – will be on site with their mobile wood-fired oven selling pizzas along with Edison’s Famous Ice Cream and Rise Brewing Company, Dan Tressler & Friends will be performing live music, and the Easton Community Center will engage you in some old-time fun and games. Easton Garden Club will run a workshop for kids on planting Sunflowers. Learn about “growing your own” and composting at the Master Gardener and Master Composter booth. Learn about farming in front of Samuel Staples Elementary School from the Easton Agricultural Commission. Learn how The Aspetuck Land Trust is a friend to agriculture and devoted to preserving open space and natural resources in Easton, Fairfield, Weston and Westport and learn about the 34-acre Randall’s Farm Nature Preserve, once a dairy farm, now open in Easton.

Directly after the Farm Tour, you are invited to the 1st Annual Community Picnic to be held from 2:30 – 4:30 at the Pavilion. Skinny Pines – an Easton-based purveyor of wood-fired pizza – will be on site with their mobile wood-fired oven selling pizzas along with Edison’s Famous Ice Cream and Rise Brewing Company. Dan Tressler & Friends will be performing live music, and there will be a family kickball game for all to enjoy. We will open a community table for your favorite dish to share or enjoy the food trucks and kick back with tunes from Dan. Bring your chairs, blankets, BYOE (Bring Your Own Eats) and willingness to have a good time to the SSES Pavilion on Saturday, Aug 12 from 2:30 – 4:30.

“This annual tour is truly a collaborative community event in celebration of Easton – past, present, and future.” said co-chairs Jean Stetz-Puchalski and Lori Cochran-Dougall of the Easton Farm Tour.  “Agriculture has been a part of Easton’s character and culture for nearly three hundred years and our tour celebrates this unique heritage, supports today’s local farming, and shines a light on the importance of planning for farmland preservation.”

Thank you to Citizens For Easton for sponsoring this annual event! See you at the Farm Tour on Saturday, August 12! Rain or shine!

— Lori Cochran-Dougall and Jean Stetz-Puchalski, Co-Chairs, 9th Annual Easton Farm Tour.

CFE Farm Tour new location: On grounds of Samuel Staples Elementary School

By Easton Courier on July 31, 2017

Citizens for Easton invites the community to its ninth annual Farm Tour at a new location to accommodate the growing popularity of this annual self-guided tour.

This celebration of Easton, a local farming community within Fairfield County, is set for Saturday, Aug. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Samuel Staples Elementary School, 515 Morehouse Road, Easton.

Visitors can check in and pick up a map, play old-time games and grab a bite to eat while getting the details on which farms are doing what, and when.

The Easton Pavilion on the grounds of Staples school provides a home with more parking, room for food trucks, a field for games and space for a community picnic to follow the farm tour.

The whole family can experience the year-round farming delights Easton offers.

Visit the Easton participating farms to discover the opportunities to shop year-round seasonal food, gifts and agricultural products and services. Easton provides fresh veggies, fruit, honey, eggs, mulch, herbs, meat, flowers, Christmas trees, horseback riding, educational events, classes on growing, pollinating, animal husbandry, bee keeping, and healthy eating.

Learn what farming was like for children and adults 100 years ago from the Easton Historical Society at the Historic Bradley-Hubbell House Farm and antique tool demonstration.

Citizens For Easton, event sponsor, invites guests to come back to the pavilion throughout the afternoon for food and entertainment and to visit some of the organizations that support Easton farmers and farmland preservation.

Skinny Pines — an Easton-based purveyor of wood-fired pizza — will be on site with its mobile, wood-fired oven selling pizzas along with Edison’s Famous Ice Cream and Rise Brewing Company, Dan Tressler & Friends will performing live music, and the Easton Community Center will offer old-time fun and games.

Learn about “growing your own”  and composting at the Master Gardener and Master Composter booth.  Learn about farming in front of Samuel Staples Elementary School from the Easton Agricultural Commission. Learn how The Aspetuck Land Trust is a friend to agriculture and devoted to preserving open space and natural resources in Easton, Fairfield, Weston and Westport and learn about the 34-acre Randall’s Farm Nature Preserve, once a dairy farm, now open space in Easton.

Directly following the Farm Tour, the Community Picnic will be held from 2:30 to 4:30 at the Pavilion. More details to follow on the Community Picnic.

“This annual tour is truly a collaborative community event in celebration of Easton — past, present, and future.” said co-chairs Jean Stetz-Puchalski and Lori Cochran-Dougall of the Easton Farm Tour.  “Agriculture has been a part of Easton’s character and culture for nearly 300 years and our tour celebrates this unique heritage, supports today’s local farming, and shines a light on the importance of planning for farmland preservation.”