Category Archives: Saddle Ridge

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Hartford wants to hear from you! There is still time to comment.

reservoirYou may have heard that conflict continues over an application before Planning & Zoning which would break zoning and imperil the watershed. We’re sorry to say, you’ve heard right. An earlier application had been rejected by P&Z, while Judge Berger of the Hartford District Superior Court had sided with concerns that intensive development on the watershed would present a deleterious impact on the public water supply. The developer subsequently appealed, and was denied.
As always, the challenge before P&Z remains so-called affordable housing under CGS 8-30g. However, in an effort to redress the concerns over this law – often used by developers to force towns to break their zoning – our State Senator, Tony Hwang and Rep. Brenda Kupchick are soliciting comments. Those could help shape potential amendments that would protect the watershed and public health. The deadline for input for the public hearing was February 16 but you still can send in your comments, so please contact your representatives listed below.
If this application were to prevail, others would follow. A domino effect thus established, the threat to public health would be far-reaching, and irreversible.
“Irreversible” is a big word. Fortunately, “if” is not. It’s not too late to make certain this deeply flawed law doesn’t subvert our future, our health, and our mandate to protect this precious resource.
Citizens for Easton has a basic position:
If any portion of a proposed affordable housing development is on land that drains into a public water supply reservoir, a substantial public interest must be established which supersedes 8-30g.
Intensive development on the watershed puts at risk the drinking water of over 340,000 residents in towns across Fairfield County, including Bridgeport, which depend on Easton’s reservoirs for safe, clean, potable water.
Please send your comments to : HSGtestimony@cga.ct.gov with subject line: “Improve 8-30g” with copies to Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov, Brenda.Kupchick@cga.ct.gov and adam.dunsby@housegop.ct.gov

Residents can weigh in on controversial 8-30g law

As reported by the Fairfield Sun on February 6, 2017
Housing Committee Co-Chair Sen. Tony Hwang and Ranking Member Rep. Brenda Kupchick today issued the following statement: Area residents can now tell state lawmakers what they think of the controversial affordable housing state law known as 8-30g. The CT General Statute section 8-30g law:

  • Has been used by developers to bypass local control and zoning regulations and environmental concerns
  • Has caused controversial housing decisions throughout Connecticut after costly and inflammatory court litigation.
  • Has the potential to forever alter the unique and historical character of neighborhood architecture and communities.

This year, we have an opportunity to:

  • Take a close look at this law and how it can be improved and adapted to meet changing community needs.
  • Receive input from local zoning officials, community leaders and residents from impacted neighborhoods.
  • Come to a solution which provides towns with much-needed control and flexibility while also achieving the goal of increasing our stock of workforce housing.

The Connecticut General Assembly’s Housing Committee will hold a public hearing on the 8-30g law on Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. You can email your comments about the law today to the Housing Committee at HSGtestimony@cga.ct.gov. The comment may be as brief as you like. Include your name and town in the email.
Put “Improve 8-30g” in the email’s subject line
Copy us on the email at Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov and Brenda.Kupchick@cga.ct.gov
For more information on the law, visit cga.ct.gov/2017/rpt/pdf/2017-R-0013.pdf. For more information, call 800-842-1421 (Co-Chair Sen. Hwang) and 800-842-1423 (Ranking Member Rep. Kupchick).

Lack of need, expert objections call for denial of Saddle Ridge plan

Easton Courier: Letter to the Editory, January 24, 2017

To the Editor:
To legally reject an application for an affordable housing development such as Easton Crossing, the probable cause of harm to the health and safety of the populace has to outweigh the need for affordable housing in Easton.
Apparently there are 15 affordable housing units in Easton, which have had an approximate 50% vacancy rate for the last several years. If this is so, there doesn’t appear to be a demand for the existing affordable housing in Easton, much less a need for even more affordable housing.
Also, the fact that P&Z has received written objections to this development based on protecting the public water supply and aquifers from such credible organizations and authorities as the Aquarion Water Company, the Connecticut Fund For the Environment, the Easton Health Department, the Easton land use director, the Connecticut Metropolitan Council of Governments, and one of the region’s preeminent soil, biological and wetlands scientists, Michael S. Klein, certainly seems to prove that this development application does pose a considerable threat to the health and safety of the populace.
In summary, a demonstrable lack of demand for affordable housing combined with the distinguished and detailed opposition of the above-named organizations and experts would call for denial of this application by the Easton Planning & Zoning Commission.
Grant Monsarrat
Easton, CT

NEXT (AND MAYBE LAST) SADDLE RIDGE PUBLIC HEARING

Adequate water supplies of high quality are
necessary both for community use and local
ecosystems . . .

Citizens for Easton feel the development proposed by Saddle Ridge would be a danger to our drinking water.

But…we can’t do it alone

Attendance is critical: Thursday, Dec 22 7:00 PM HKMS

 

Citizens for Easton relies on donations

Click HERE to donate via PayPal and add instruction “CSE” or send your checks made out to Citizens for Easton with Coalition to Save Easton (CSE) in the memo, and mail to Citizens for Easton, PO Box 151, Easton, CT 06612. CSE is a division of CFE which is a registered 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt organization. With your support we can continue to hire experts to help in our efforts to protect and preserve our water supply.

Please contact

Rob Maquat, Planning & Zoning Chairman via email at manania@eastonct.gov and Dori Wollen, Conservation Commission Chairperson at kring@eastonct.gov, or send a letter to them at 225 Center Road, Easton, CT 06612.

Thank you  for your passion, support and dedication to something that affects every one of us – the environment and the future of our town. Citizens for Easton/CSE will continue to advocate to uphold Easton’s zoning and to protect the safety of the public drinking water supply.

NEW SADDLE RIDGE THREAT TO WATERSHED

Droughts have a way of focusing our attention here in Easton. Lawns dry out, leaves too. Empty streambeds wind through dessicated woods enroute to reservoirs that slowly, then quickly, recede to regain a widening shoreline. What happens below ground is even more dramatic: Water tables drop, well levels too, and slowly, that which we take for granted  begins to assert an ominous hypothetical: What if water is no longer there to take for granted?

Easton is a water town — it has been our heritage and now, our destiny. Without the need for water, Easton might not even exist, or certainly not in the unique form of today. Reservoirs and the watersheds that sustain them have shaped our character for well over a century, but those watersheds sustain far more than just those: They sustain us.

This drought — hopefully relieved by rain — does at least offer another opportunity to remind ourselves why precious — and not automatically renewable — resources like water matter so much. By protecting this resource, we protect Easton’s county-wide mandate to provide a clean and steady supply of water. By protecting this, we ensure that  the next generation has a viable template  for conservation too. But most of all, by protecting this we ensure the health of our families, and our children.

As you are perhaps aware, there is yet another Saddle Ridge application before Planning and Zoning that seeks to build a cluster housing development on watershed land. Citizens for Easton has previously and successfully fought this assault on our health and on our water, and be assured, CFE will oppose this application as well.

We hope all Eastonites understand the vital importance of protecting a resource we can no longer take for granted. The health and well-being of our children, and their children, depend on it.

Verne Gay

Board Chairman

Citizens for Easton

Public health, watershed protection outweigh financial interests

Easton Courier on October 15, 2016

To the Editor:

Saddle Ridge has once again submitted an application for high-density housing on the public watershed. Once again, Citizens for Easton will oppose any proposal that seeks to overturn long-standing zoning regulations designed to protect a vital resource which Easton and Fairfield County rely upon.
Eight months ago, Judge Marshall K. Berger Jr. of the Hartford District Superior Court rejected an earlier Saddle Ridge high-density application which would have imperilled the long term health and maintenance of the watershed. Saddle Ridge was subsequently denied certification for appeal, upholding Judge Berger’s decision.
The new application — which seeks one unit per acre, in addition to duplexes on 18 lots — purports to conform to the so-called affordable housing statute. However, Judge Berger argued that the protection of the watershed, along with the manifest public health issues directly related to that protection, must assume precedence over such considerations.
In opposing the earlier high-density housing application, CFE had likewise argued that issues of public health and the protection of the watershed must supercede the short term financial interests of any developer. With the full understanding that Planning & Zoning must take into careful consideration any application that comes before it, we once again urge its members to summarily reject this most recent one as well.

Citizens for Easton Board

Judge ends Easton battle over development proposed on watershed land-CT Post-July 17, 2017

post saddle ridge imageEASTON — The legal battle over the proposed Saddle Ridge development on 124.7 acres of watershed land along Sport Hill Road has officially ended.

For more than five years, town residents, officials and others argued a housing development was too intense a proposal for the privately owned parcel bordered by Sport Hill, Westport, Silver Hill and Cedar Hill roads.

The town’s Planning and Zoning Commission and Conservation Commission denied two separate plans — one for a 105-unit development and another for a 99-unit proposal — in 2011.

Developers Huntley “Bucky” Stone and Robert Carlson, on the other hand, contended that their plans, which would include affordable housing within the development, would not have a substantially different impact on the land than a plan approved in 2009 for 21 mansions. They appealed the commissions’ decisions in Superior Court.

Earlier this year, Hartford Superior Court Judge Marshall K. Berger ruled that the plans were not appropriate for the area. And recently, ending the debate once and for all, the Appellate Court decided not to take up the case, as requested by the developers.

Verne Gay, president of Citizens for Easton, a community group formed in the 1970s to help protect the town’s open space, said he’s not sure whether Stone, the face of the development, will now give up plans to develop the site or submit a new proposal.

“The courts rejected the appeal,” Gay said. “Does he have another move? I don’t know.”

For town residents, the legal battle was a long one that required constant attention and funds to pay a lawyer of their own. Citizens for Easton created the Coalition to Save Easton for this reason, which attained intervenor status in the case, meaning it was always aware of the latest actions in the case.

“It has been very hard,” Gay said. “We all have our own jobs and lives. Over the years, Bucky was well funded and he had a very good legal team. At any point through this process he could have prevailed. Our difficulty was to just keep fighting.”

“We’re very simply a local tree-hugger group here,” Gay added. “It has no other motivation. It’s just protecting the town.”

Stone and Carlson did not return calls for comment.

The town’s regulations limit development in the property’s zone to one dwelling unit per 2 acres of buildable area, excluding the wetlands. The developers sought a more dense housing complex of 99 units in 31 buildings, with 30 percent of the townhouses set aside as affordable.

Under state statute, if a town with less than 10 percent affordable housing rejects a developer’s application to build affordable housing, the burden of proof is on the town to show the plan would harm public health, safety or other matters.

Ira Bloom, of the law firm Berchem, Moses and Devlin P.C., served as legal counsel for the town commissions. “For Easton it was extremely important to protect the town’s resources and, in particular, the public water supply area,” he said

The complex would have sat within two watersheds: the Easton Lake Reservoir and the Aspetuck Reservoir. Both serve as the Aquarion Water Co.’s public drinking water supply reservoirs that serve more than 400,000 Fairfield County residents.

First Selectman Adam Dunsby said protecting the watershed land merits appropriate restrictions on developments.

Brian Roach, program manager of environmental protection for Aquarion, said the 99-unit complex proposed housing densities that were more than two times the maximum density shown to be appropriate to protect water quality within watersheds.

“While Aquarion acknowledges the need for affordable housing in Connecticut, it strongly believes that high-density residential developments should only be considered for locations that are not within public drinking water supply watersheds,” Roach said.

In his 56-page decision, Judge Berger noted that the state statute that addresses affordable housing, section 8-30g, was not meant to tie the hands of communities like Easton, who have a low percentage of affordable housing.

“Saddle Ridge’s application highlights Easton’s need for affordable housing,” the decision states. “The Legislature’s enactment of (Section) 8-30g to accomplish that goal was not intended to allow every development at the cost of damaging natural resources such as our wetlands and watercourses. Sometimes, a different type or less intensive use of the land is demanded.”

ktorres@hearstmediact.com; 203-330-6227