Easton P&Z approves high density affordable housing development on sensitive watershed property draining into two major reservoirs

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. Continue reading

Water Advocates Mark World Water Day – March 22

Today, March 22,  is World Water Day. As noted in an article in the Redding Pilot, an alliance of statewide organizations and watershed associations is calling on lawmakers to safeguard Connecticut’s water resources. “Connecticut has had tremendous victories in protecting drinking water and restoring rivers, but at the same time, there are ongoing threats to the quality and quantity of our water,” said Karen Burnaska, water projects coordinator for CFE/Save the Sound.
CFE asks you to help commemorate World Water Day this week by contacting the legislators listed below to modify the affordable housing statute 8-30g to help protect our public drinking water supply watershed lands by inserting the text which is shown below in bold and italics in Subsection Subsection (g)(2)(A): Continue reading

Easton P&Z Approves High Density Housing Development in the Watershed

We understand how a bad law has put Easton and dozens of other communities across the state in an untenable position. Either they bow to the dictates of an irremediably flawed affordable housing statute or suffer the consequences in court. What we don’t quite understand is why our own zoning commission has ignored an extenuating factor in this instance: Intensive housing developments such as this put the watershed at risk and ultimately public health as well. All manner of so-called “safety nets” or “conditions” can’t begin to redress this blunt fact nor prevent similar developments in the future. Courts have already ruled that Easton does indeed have a unique mandate in protecting a vital public resource, yet our own town sees otherwise. We’re disappointed, but also optimistic that the best outcome – for Easton and the hundreds of thousands of Fairfield county residents who depend on this resource – will ultimately prevail.

Planning and Zoning Commission Special and Regular Meeting Monday, March 13. Conference Room A, Easton Town Hall, 225 Center Road.

Special Meeting 5:00 PM: Discuss and consider adjudication of applications by Saddle Ridge Developers, LLC
Regular Meeting 7:00 PM: Agenda including but not limited to Update of Town Plan of Conservation and Development
See link for notice: http://www.eastonct.gov/sites/eastonct/files/agenda/agenda-file/planning_and_zoning_commission_special_meeting_and_regiar_agenda_03-13-2017.pdf

By Monday, 3/13: Save the CT Council on Environmental Quality

From Connecticut Land Conservation Council:
ACTION: Submit testimony in OPPOSITION to the elimination of the Council on Environmental Quality, H.B. 7051 (Sections 9-18 and 31) (Public Hearing 3/13).

Email Your Testimony: Please email your testimony to gaetestimony@cga.ct.gov (pdf or word format preferred), with “GAE Committee Testimony”, H.B. 7051, “CEQ” and “3/13” in subject line.
Contact your Legislators: Send them a copy of your testimony. Click HERE to find your legislators’ contact information. Organizations, businesses or other entities – please use your official letterhead. Individuals – include your name and town.

  • I oppose the elimination of CEQ.
  • CEQ is the state’s only independent environmental watch-dog agency.
  • Since 1971, CEQ has provided the public with objective and independent oversight of the state’s environment efficiently, effectively and at minimal cost ($174,000) to the state.
  • Acting through its volunteer council and just two staff, with limited support from DEEP for administrative purposes only, CEQ services include: The Environmental Monitor (project information for the public under the CT Environmental Policy Act and for notices of proposed transfers of land), Annual Reports on Environmental Quality, Special Reports (most recently, “Energy Sprawl in Connecticut”), monthly meetings and an opportunity for citizens to lodge complaints and otherwise voice concerns.
  • There is likely no state agency that does so much for so little.

Additional Information: H.B 7051 Section 31 of the bill repeals CGS Section 22a-11, the statute that establishes the CEQ. Sections 9 through 18 eliminate the CEQ’s duties and authorities pursuant to CEPA, surplus property statutes, and other laws. One CEQ duty, publication of the Environmental Monitor, is transferred to DEEP; all others are eliminated.

Public Hearing Information: A public hearing on will be held on Monday, March 13, 10:00am, by the Government Administration and Elections Committee, in Room 2A, Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Ave., Hartford.

Please contact abpaterson@ctconservation.org if you would like to testify at the public hearing or need assistance submitting your comments.

Important to Act by Monday, March 6 to Protect the Purity of the Water Supply by Modifying Affordable Housing Statute 8-30g

Contact the State Housing Committee (contact info below) to recommend amending the statute by inserting the text which is shown below in bold and italics in Subsection (g)(2)(A):
(g) Upon an appeal taken under subsection (f) of this section, the burden shall be on the commission to prove, based upon the evidence in the record compiled before such commission, that the decision from which such appeal is taken and the reasons cited for such decision are supported by sufficient evidence in the record. The commission shall also have the burden to prove, based upon the evidence in the record compiled before such commission, that (1) (A) the decision is necessary to protect substantial public interests in health, safety or other matters which the commission may legally consider; (B) such public interests clearly outweigh the need for affordable housing; and (C) such public interests cannot be protected by reasonable changes to the affordable housing development, or (2) (A) the application which was the subject of the decision from which such appeal was taken would locate affordable housing in an area which is zoned for industrial use and which does not permit residential uses;  or is located in the watershed of a public drinking water supply reservoir; …”
Rep. Larry Butler: Larry.Butler@cga.ct.gov (860-240-8585)
Sen. Gayle Slossberg: http://www.senatedems.ct.gov/slossberg-contact (860-240-0482)
Sen. Tony Hwang: Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov (1-800-842-1421)
Rep. Kim Rose: Kim.Rose@cga.ct.gov (860-240-8585)
Sen. Catherine A. Osten: Catherine.Osten@cga.ct.gov (860-240-0579)
Sen. Kevin C. Kelly: Kevin.Kelly@cga.ct.gov (1-800-842-1421)
RANKING MEMBER: Rep.Brenda.Kupchick: Brenda.Kupchick@cga.ct.gov (860-240-8700):
As noted by Julia Pemberton, First Selectman of Redding and the Redding Planning Commission in a letter to Housing Committee dated 2/15/17:
“Protection of the purity, wholesomeness and quality of the Connecticut’s public drinking water supplies is at least as essential to the health, safety and economy of the state’s citizens as safeguarding its industrial sites. Public water supply watersheds are an indispensable resource for the State’s future, and their protection is an urgent necessity of public policy. Population growth factors and climatic change variability have demonstrated the importance and of protecting the public water supply. Our recent and recurrent drought conditions are a reminder of the need for protecting this ever more stressed resource. Connecticut being a small state with limited reserves of water for the needs of its increasing population needs to focus on this critical resource.
Since enactment of Section 8-30g, many of these watersheds have been under assault by development interests utilizing this section to maximize the profit of building at higher densities than allowed by local regulations. This amendment is wholly consistent with the State’s Conservation & Development Policies Plan 2013-2018, which urges protection of the state’s essential water resources and location of new higher density development where urban infrastructure – such as water and sewer service, jobs and public transit are available.”


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