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. 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. We hope that you will support our efforts by sending a contribution to CSE/CFE, PO Box 151, Easton, CT 06612, or click here to Donate via Paypal
Our town and our watershed are at a crucial juncture.
The site of the proposed 124-acre site is on watershed land abutting Sport Hill, Silver Hill, Cedar Hill and Westport Roads. The Aquarion Water Company has written a letter recommending denial of this application to protect and ensure the integrity of environmental assets critical to public health and safety. Moreover, drought conditions have been declared in our State, making water an increasingly precious commodity.
Citizens for Easton successfully prevailed on a previous application by the same developer on the same property this past January. We are also opposing this current application and need funds for experts including engineers and soil scientists. We have a choice to make – an important one – but to make the right decision requires vigilance and work. Most of all, it requires your continued support. The health and well-being of current and future generations depend on it. Please 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. Or click HERE to donate via PayPal and add instruction “CSE.” (CSE is CFE’s member organization and CFE is a registered 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt organization.)
If you agree that this development would be a danger to our drinking water, as well as a deleterious precedent for Easton, you may also contact Rob Maquat, Planning & Zoning Chairman via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and Dori Wollen, Conservation Commission Chairperson at email@example.com, or send a letter to them at 225 Center Road, Easton, CT 06612.
We 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 Threat to the 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.
Citizens for Easton