PRESS RELEASE OCTOBER 5, 2019
The Connecticut State Superior Court in Hartford ruled Thursday that a cluster housing application known as Saddle Ridge, or Easton Crossing, be remanded back to Easton’s Planning and Zoning Commission because it failed to require an assessment by Easton’s Conservation Commission when it approved the application.
In the 32-page memorandum, the Court ruled that Easton’s Planning and Zoning Commission was in violation of various statutes when it approved the 2016 application for 30 single family homes and 18 duplexes. Consequently, the Court held Planning and Zoning must “refer the application to [Conservation] for consideration as discussed herein.”
The decision was a victory for Citizens for Easton, whose corollary organization, Coalition to Save Easton, has battled Saddle Ridge’s various cluster housing applications over the past decade. Those were not only in violation of Easton’s long-standing zoning laws, but if successful, would have posed an immediate threat to the public watershed.
In a statement, the CFE board said, “We thank the Court for its careful consideration of this vitally important matter, and are gratified that the court also agreed that P&Z had acted illegally when it approved the application without first requiring Saddle Ridge to make the required application to Conservation. Easton’s Conservation Commission is specifically charged to appraise any application’s impact on the watershed. We continue to believe this application, if successful, will have a profoundly deleterious effect on the public watershed. Moreover, it will set the precedent for other developments of this scale and impact.
“Since CFE and CSE first challenged this assault on the wetlands over a decade ago, we have maintained that any application which potentially threatens the wetlands is a matter of public health. Easton has a unique role in Fairfield County, as steward of a resource that serves over half a million people. We will continue to pursue an outcome consistent with that mandate.”
The Court, however, did not agree with CFE and CSE, that the septic systems as proposed by the developer would be in direct violation of Easton’s ordinance against community septic systems, referring to letters from Easton’s public health officer and director.
Therefore, the Court ruled that our appeal of the application “is remanded in part and denied in part.”
In a statement, the CFE board said, “We’re disappointed that the Court did not rule in our favor on this matter, but we continue to believe that the septic systems as proposed would be in direct violation of ordinance barring community septic systems.
Notwithstanding this victory, CFE has found it necessary to move to reargue two parts of the decision. First, we are asking that the court reconsider its decision that the septic systems as proposed do not violate the ordinance because the court, in ruling as it did, accepted the opinion of a state official which cannot override the town ordinance. Second, we are asking that the court reconsider its instruction to have P&Z refer the application to Conservation because we believe that the court should have just granted our appeal.
“Once again, to restate our position, which has not wavered since we first took up this fight: This application seeks to overturn any number of long standing measures that were put in place to preserve the watershed and the reservoirs. It has sought to undercut those by throwing smokescreens over them, with intent to confuse and obfuscate. Their proposed multi-dwelling septic system proposals are but one example. Easton’s Planning & Zoning Commission regrettably has been duped. CFE/CSE has not. We will continue to pursue this matter as well. “