Our zoning commission has approved the application for an intensive affordable housing development proposed by Saddle Ridge, “with multiple conditions.”
No matter the conditions, the intensive development of this property in the watershed between two reservoirs which service over 400,000 residents in Fairfield County should not have been approved.
Aquarian Water Company opposed the application, as well as various town officials and governmental entities. In a prior application by Saddle Ridge our courts previously recognized that the need to protect the watershed outweighed the need for an intensive affordable housing development by Saddle Ridge.
In fact, while Easton has few affordable housing units, 50% of them are apparently unfilled. Easton does not have the infrastructure to support intensive development. We rely upon individual wells and septic systems on watershed land.
While the applicant waives the flag of altruism in providing affordable housing, more likely the application had a profit-making motive. The application as submitted proposed a phased construction plan in which the first phase would have contained no affordable housing.
While the zoning commission may have “conditioned out” this phasing, one does wonder whether the intent of the application was to make a quick profit on the first phase and not have to worry about phasing in the affordable units.
past tells present
An example is the development across the line in Fairfield opposite the former GE site, which started out as senior housing, but when that did not sell required an acceptance of dropping the senior housing requirement. One can wonder if that might be the future of the present affordable housing development.
Even if the project remains affordable and even if the developer accepts all of the conditions and attempts to meet them, there is no guarantee that the watershed will be protected.
The engineering experts who have reviewed the proposed development differ on whether or not there is adequate protection for the watershed, and if anyone is relying upon the perfection of engineering, you might google “engineering failures.”
More importantly, you might remember that our town has a weak zoning enforcement record. Our zoning commission has shifted the burden to oppose this dangerous development to Citizens for Easton.