Take a Last Stand and Say NO to White Barn Theatre permit transfer. Tuesday 3/23 Conservation Commission Agenda Section VII a) #S15-463 78 Cranbury Road.
While reviewing the Norwalk Tuesday agendas online, I was struck by a Conservation Commission agenda item requesting to transfer the original permit for a 15-home Conservation Development at 78 Cranbury Road to a new prospective owner. The area in question includes a roughly 10-acre portion of the former Lucille Lortel White Barn Theatre property that I and the Norwalk Land Trust spent so much time and treasure trying to save over the last 15 years or so. The new/prospective owners and the seller would like to simply transfer the permit that many of the neighbors and Friends of White Barn felt was a serious mistake on the part of the Commission at the time, about seven years ago.
Well, it’s a new day and there are many new Commissioners so there is a second chance for this Conservation Commission to properly discharge its duties.
Please consider writing to the Conservation Commission ATTN: Alexis Cherichetti [email protected] by 3 p.m. today and ask that the Conservation Commission vote NO to allow a simple permit transfer.
At the very least ask the Commission to hold a public hearing. I believe they have the discretion to either deny the request, ask to go back to square one with a new hearing, or negotiate a reduction of the number of houses planned.
The time has come to take one last stand to inject balance into what many thought was a mistaken Inland Wetlands approval vote: allowing an Inland Wetlands permit to cram 15 luxury homes into a woodland oasis several years ago. The Norwalk Land Trust tried their best to show, with a lawyer and other experts, that the land should not be developed as intensively as the applicant desired. But in the end, Goliath won.
We were exhausted from trying to suggest to our City that some sites are worth saving. I rotated off the Land Trust Board but still kept volunteering with many other dedicated Land Trust Board members to try and save the land, including negotiations with the owners to reduce the number and location of the houses.
The Zoning Commission mistakenly extended the 78 Cranbury Road Zoning permit recently without a public hearing, so the Conservation Commission is the last administrative hope that a more holistic review of this site’s value is warranted.
It’s a complicated story with many twists and turns but there is still one last thing that this City can do to make things better: Deny the permit transfer and go back to the drawing board about the White Barn Theatre property!
Editor’s note, 1:35 p.m.: According to Norwalk Senior Environmental Engineer Alexis Cherichetti, the Conservation Commission does not have the authority to deny the permit transfer.
“There is no opportunity for public hearing because the only change is in the permit owner,” Cherichetti replied to an email from a resident. “Wetland permits ‘run with the land’ and are not personal with the original applicants. A request for change in permit ownership does not affect the validity of the permit, nor does it alter the permitted regulated activities in any way. The Commission does not have jurisdiction to re-open or alter the terms and conditions of the existing approved permit.”