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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
Following is the text of The Connecticut Audubon Society’s letter submitted to Easton Board of Selectmen:
The Connecticut Audubon Society joins with Citizens for Easton in its concern about the future of 29.6 acres on South Park Avenue adjacent to the Mill River. Development of this town-owned land will compromise a small but beautiful wildlife habitat that plays an important watershed protection role for the river, and is a much-used and enjoyed passive outdoor recreational area for birdwatchers, anglers, artists and school groups. The Mill River is one of only nine Class A Wild Trout Streams left in Connecticut and is unique because it is pristine and cold enough to sustain wild trout despite being on the edge of a suburban area. Wild brook and brown trout are among 17 fish species listed as “most important” in the Connecticut Wildlife Action Plan. Preserving the property would also be consistent with Easton’s Town Plan of Conservation and Development, which states as its “cardinal principle”: “The major policies and goals of the Town Plan in respect to resource conservation are: Protect the natural, scenic, historical and cultural resources of the town, especially its wetlands, streambelts and ground water resources, but also its steep slopes, ridgelines, major trees and significant wildlife areas …” The Connecticut Audubon Society is the state’s original, independent Audubon. We and our many members in Easton look forward to your leadership as exemplary stewards of the environment by supporting the preservation the 29.6 acres on South Park Avenue as open space in perpetuity for current and future generations.
Our effort to protect the watershed, along with Easton’s historic mandate to protect it, has reached a critical point. Still the battle is not over and we need your financial support.”
On September 8, 2015, Hartford Superior Court Judge Marshall K. Berger heard the Saddle Ridge appeal to build nearly one hundred “townhouses” on 110.5 acres on watershed land.
Should this appeal succeed, it will come to represent the highest density of housing in Easton’s history, demolishing longstanding zoning regulations that have been in place for over seventy years.
Of far greater significance, a successful appeal means that the watershed which has served greater Fairfield county for a century will be subject to the predation of those who seek short term financial gain at the expense of those who depend on a clean, sustainable supply of water for generations to come.
With your help, CFE has successfully opposed this development.
We’ve done this because of YOU.
You’ve heard the reasons because you know exactly what the stakes are.
You know this development would pollute wetlands and the many watercourses that drain directly into two major reservoirs — the Easton and the Aspetuck — that serve over half a million people in Fairfield county.
You know this proposed development would set a precedent for other high density housing developments.
You know this would be the beginning of a long and perilous slide — an irreversible slide.
During the Sept. 8 trial, Ira Boom, Attorney for Easton, and CFE’s attorney, Janet Brooks, relied heavily on testimony provided by the experts engaged by CFE/CSE. The good news is that both Ms. Brooks and Mr. Bloom mounted a strong, vigorous defense of our argument — YOUR argument.
You have been with us on this long and difficult process for five years. You have supported our efforts. You have contributed your thoughts. You have contributed your energy. You have also contributed your financial support. And we at CFE are asking for continued support — moral, emotional and financial. Please continue to give what you can of any those, mindful of the fact that this is not over yet.
We have now arrived at the final hurdle. We have an attorney, Ms. Brooks, who has been absolutely essential in getting us to this point. We’re lucky to have her, and we need her to clear that final hurdle. We’re getting close to the end. But we’re not there yet. Please consider a donation to CFE/CSE today.
This is about the future of the watershed. This is also about the future of Easton. Future generations are depending on us to make the right decision right now.
We have so far.
You can pay via PayPal using this link
Or mail a check payable to CFE/CSE, PO Box 151, Easton, CT 06612.
Without your support, this development would already have been a reality.
Your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by the law. Citizens for Easton is a registered 501 (c) (3) organization.
Thank you for your continued support.
The Board of Citizens For Easton
Easton Courier on August 29, 2015
To the Editor:
I believe that there are many reasons why the Town of Easton should not allow development on the South Park Avenue property.
First, it is our responsibility to preserve the quality of life that we value in Easton, principally our clean air and healthy environment. We love our farms, our walking trails and the natural areas (i.e. Trout Brook, the preserves and parks) that grace our community.
Preserving South Park Avenue means that we are helping to protect the open space that is so important to our health and our way of life. We are also protecting the land along the Mill River, which in turn helps protect against flooding.
I have read the figures in regard to tax benefits of Sacred Heart and Jewish Senior Services (formerly the Jewish Home for the Elderly) proposals. But, I would like to focus on the latter. I consider leaving the property as open space in the long run safeguards our tax rates!
First, the protected property would not require a change in the zoning laws, which, if passed could lead to a demand for other large developments.
Preserved open space will never produce the need for public services that (in the future) could increase our taxes.
Secondly, the Jewish Senior Services project requires sewer hookup. Not only the cost in dollars, but also the potential cost to our environment is of unknown consequence.
Finally I hope that the non-development (or development) of the South Park Avenue property will never become a political issue and that I am correct in thinking that Easton voters, if given the chance, will (overwhelmingly) approve continuing the protection of the Mill River, and open spaces.
For no amount of money will ever match the investment of protecting our land for future generations.
Janet P. Gordon