Category Archives: Saddle Ridge

SADDLE RIDGE UPDATE

While we were successful in our appeal from the approval by Planning and Zoning of the latest Saddle Ridge application without prior approval by the Conservation Commission, we needed to take further action to strengthen the Court’s remedy and hopefully force an outright denial. 

The hearing on our motion to reargue is scheduled for Friday November 22 at 2 PM. Hartford Judicial District, 95 Washington St. Your presence will make an impact-Let’s demonstrate to the Judge that the citizens of Easton truly care about the safety of our public water supply.

Please contact us if you want to share a ride.

 We are hopeful that the court will dismiss completely the present application.

The motion to reargue has, of course, resulted in additional attorney’s fees. We would appreciate any contribution which you can make to our efforts in opposing Saddle Ridge. You can easily contribute by clicking the PayPal button on the left which also takes credit cards, or mail us a check to PO Box 151, Easton, CT  06612.

Thank you for your support!

SADDLE RIDGE

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. “

 

SADDLE RIDGE TRIAL POSTPONED!

Sadly, there has been a death in the family of one of the attorneys.

We will keep you posted.

SADDLE RIDGE SAGA CONTINUES….

protect watershed6

Please consider attending the trial on Wednesday June 5, 2019 at 10:00 AM, Hartford Judicial District, 95 Washington St. as the appeal continues.
Your presence will make an impact-Let’s demonstrate to the Judge that the citizens of Easton truly care about the safety of our public water supply.
Please contact us if you want to share a ride.
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SADDLE RIDGE HEARING UPDATE!

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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 .