To the Editor,
The 2 Nearwater Road Property on Farm Creek (AKA: The Old Trolley Line) is back before the Zoning Commission this Thursday. Over the past two years, much has been written and said by both sides regarding the proposed development of this unique property, and the controversy has pitted neighbor against neighbor. And, in September of this year, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection also raised significant environmental concerns regarding the proposed development. We believe that there is a solution that should satisfy all parties.
From the very beginning, the center of the controversy has been the specific piece of land in the middle of Farm Creek – an ecologically sensitive tidal estuary – on which an existing cottage sits. It has never been about the development of a house on this property adjacent to other houses, but rather the development of a house on this unique piece of land. In fact, credit needs to be given to the property owner for his decision to relocate his proposed house to the street from this piece of land. However, the question of the existing cottage remains. The property owner wants to maintain this cottage as an “auxiliary structure.” However, the DEEP letter states, among other things, that “maintaining the cottage use on the former Trolley line in the middle of Farm Creek, even without a kitchen, does not properly minimize potential threats to life and property, as required by [CT Coastal Management Act] policy.”
We as a city cannot afford to ignore DEEP policy. Leaving aside the legality of doing so, we are custodians of, and must do more to protect, our coastline and other sensitive environmental areas. We need to address these, as well as other zoning issues, as part of an overall review of Norwalk’s zoning laws. However, until we are able to do so, we need to come together with reasonable solutions that balance individual property rights with responsible development. To this end, we propose that the property owner add a deed restriction forever agreeing not to make any improvements on the property that would involve expanding, raising, or replacing the cottage. This would allow him to build his house and use the existing cottage as an “auxiliary structure,” as he has proposed, while also protecting the piece of property that has been at the heart of the dispute. This proposal also appears consistent with his intentions as stated by his legal team at past hearings of the Zoning Commission. We believe it would also be acceptable to neighbors who have objected to the proposed development.
Our coastline is one of Norwalk’s greatest assets: we all need to do everything we can to protect it for future generations. We believe that this proposal, if accepted, is one step in that direction.
Board of Directors, Cherie Burton and Charles Schoendorf, Co-Presidents
Sixth Taxing District Commissioners
John Igneri (also D-District E Common Council)
Tom Livingston – District E Common Council (Elect)
Julie Burton, Mayor’s Task Force on Zoning
Terrie Wood – State Representative, 141st District