This message is about a developer’s application to build a housing project in Westport that would affect residents in both Norwalk and Westport. In order to succeed, he needs help from the City of Norwalk, so he has submitted to the Norwalk Conservation Commission an application, under the name “Summit Saugatuck LLC”, for work to be done across the town border in Norwalk. There is wide consensus among both Norwalkers and Westporters who are aware of the situation that approval of this application would help no one but the developer. If you agree, there is something you can do about it.
For more than 15 years, the developer has been seeking permission in Westport to proceed with the project, which would be located in the Old Saugatuck section of Westport, contiguous to the Norwalk border, and would comprise 187 living units. After following the appropriate processes, Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission definitively denied its approval earlier this year. There was wide support from the community for this decision.
A key reason given for the denial by Westport P&Z was the lack of a second access road to the area. The developer is seeking to create that access road on Norden Place and has applied to the Norwalk Conservation Commission for approval. There are several reasons many believe, and I agree, that the application should be denied. Among them:
- The application requests modification of a conservation easement, which was intended to exist in its current form in perpetuity. Amending the easement would not only violate that intent but would also create a precedent for modifying other conservation easements.
- The establishment of this easement was agreed upon more than a decade ago through a negotiated settlement in which both Norwalk and Westport residents participated. Modifying the easement would violate the good faith of this agreement.
- Approval of the application does not appear to present any advantage to Norwalk or its residents.
- The developer’s application to construct housing in Old Saugatuck has been denied multiple times in Westport, most recently by the Westport Planning & Zoning Commission. It’s important to note that it is the developer, and not the Town of Westport, who is asking Norwalk to amend the easement. Norwalk has no reason to inconvenience its own residents to accommodate a developer who is seeking to construct housing in another town that has not even endorsed the project.
- There are multiple concerns about the potential environmental effects of the proposed modifications in the Norden area.
What You Can Do
If this proposal concerns you, there are a number of ways you can take action to encourage the Norwalk Conservation Commission to reject the application:
- Sign a petition here.
- Send a letter to the Conservation Commission, addressed to Alexis Cherichetti, Senior Environmental Officer, at [email protected].
- Speak at the Conservation Commission’s public hearing this Tuesday evening, December 10, at 7:00 pm, in the Norwalk City Hall Community Room. If you don’t want to speak, you can still attend to oppose the application, hold up signs, or sign in as an opponent.
- Read more about the proposed Westport project here.
Thank you, especially those of you who are Norwalk or Westport residents, for your attention to this important matter for your communities.
If you have questions or would like to discuss this or any other issue further, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am always happy to hear from you.
State Representative Gail Lavielle
143rd General Assembly District
Wilton, Norwalk, Westport