Rowayton’s Pine Point again feels massive threat

NORWALK, Conn. – Don’t look now – the view of the waterfront may soon change drastically for Rowayton’s Pine Point residents. Not only that, but the neighborhood beach may change entirely.

Councilman David McCarthy (R-District E) has stepped up to help his neighbors, circulating a petition to try to stop a massive dock from being built off Pine Point, an effort to challenge the plans of two neighborhood property owners.  

This follows last summer’s drama of the Pine Point Association protesting the Norwalk Land Trust’s attempt to buy property at 2 Nearwater Road. Potential lawsuits were mentioned in that controversy. A lawsuit has been mentioned in this latest brewing drama.

The information comes from an email sent by PPA President Leah Hogan to the association.

“It has come to the Board’s attention that 7 Nylked Terrace, LLC (Charles Berman) and Thomas Juterbock, owners of 7 and 9 Nylked Terrace respectively, have applied to the Connecticut Office of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) for a permit to build a large dock structure extending from the 9 Nylked property into the waters of Pine Point beach,” Hogan wrote to members in a Nov. 5 email.

The dock would consist of a 79-foot long and 5-foot wide pier with two side decks, one of them more than 32 feet long and 3 feet wide, and the other 20 feet long and 3 feet wide. The side wings would include ladders to be used by boat owners.

There’s more – a 10-foot by 20-foot floating dock, accessible by a 35-foot long by 3-foot wide aluminum gangway. That would be in approximately 2 feet of water at mean low water.

The dock and pier would require 23 piles. The float would need an additional three piles.

Hogan wrote that several Pine Point residents are concerned. The convoluted structure could cause problems:

  • If it broke apart in a southerly storm it would “pose a significant hazard to the Pine Point sea wall.”
  • The proposed removal of boulders and ledge could affect the tidal flow due and could even change the character of Pine Point’s beach
  • It could “pose a danger to swimmers at our beach”
  • It might “disrupt the use and maintenance of existing moorings owned by Pine Point residents”
  • It will “disrupt the vista from our beach as the location and size of the proposed structure is out of scale to its surroundings”
  • It will “unduly impact our coastal marine resources”
  • It will “unduly impact access to the water”

“There is a similar and related dock proposal pending in Bell Island.” Hogan wrote. “The Bell Island residents have voted to hire an attorney to represent them in opposing this dock and a suit has been filed.  The Board is in contact with Bell Island on this.”


12 responses to “Rowayton’s Pine Point again feels massive threat”

  1. John Hamlin

    But what about the right of the individual property owner to do whatever he or she wants on the property? Isn’t that the bedrock of Norwalk’s approach to land use? Isn’t that why there’s no viable blight ordinance and no regulations like FAR? Isn’t that why the city has approved all sorts of such docks everywhere else in Norwalk? The “less government, less property regulation” ship has already sailed in this town and it appears it will continue (securely tied to the newly-built dock) unless there’s a change of heart in this city so that the unfettered rights of property owners are curbed to protect neighbors and neighborhoods.

  2. Oldtimer

    Piers and docks are not built on “your own property”, but on public trust lands below the high water mark. In this case, over a natural shellfish bed. The opponents of this project should gather the required 25 signatures and petition for a public hearing. If the legitimate concerns against such a project are voiced at such a hearing, the DEEP will not issue a permit. Rather than refuse to issue any permit, the DEEP analyst may suggest to the applicants a much smaller, less intrusive design, if there is deep enough water. Mr McCarthy should enlist the support of the harbor commission and the shellfish commission, as both have successfully opposed similar designs in the past.

  3. Mike Mushak

    The old-school Republicans in Norwalk are reaping what they have sown over the last 30 years, which is supporting a dumbed-down planning and zoning process favoring property rights, with full cooperation of the highly unqualified Planning and Zoning Director Mike Greene (Joe Santo promoted him into his position to basically be their water boy for back room deals, without checking his professional credentials, oops, and guess who is still Chair of the Zoning Commission protecting Greene from performance reviews and accountability after all these decades? Yes, Joe Santo. Way to go, Norwalk.)

    And Greene is still producing the back room deals for Santo and company (i.e., Lowe’s second story zone change in 2012, that Green denied knowing anything about their pending application when asked in the hearing on the record about it by Diane Cece, even though Mayor Moccia had already met with them and accepted a $20,000 gazebo for a local park, AND the entire commission knew they were coming, but Greene just lied to the public about it with no remorse instead of just telling the truth, that he was doing Lowe’s a favor with a zone change that wa arranged in a back room deal. Oh, then there was the truly corrupt killing of the Main Avenue zone change, where BK’s was proposed to go but after it was withdrawn, a zone change recommended by professional planners in our Master Plan that was killed with completely bogus “research” produced by P and Z staff Dori Wilson and Mike Greene, clearly to manipulate the process and justify such a bad planning decision, in the name of “property rights”.) The list of the corruption like this I witnessed goes on and on, and the scary part is staff thinks this corrupt way of planning our city and lying to the public is totally acceptable, because they got away with it for the decades they have worked here with no accountability or transparency, and as long as they knew the old-school Republicans were protecting their jobs as long as they played the game. Not anymore!

    Greene is in way over his head on planning issues, state and federal laws, and the need for enforcing existing regulations to protect our precious coastal resources, which is why Norwalk has the reputation around the state of being a case study in bad planning, as well as the easiest city to build whatever you want practically at any size you want regardless of its impacts on the environment or entire neighborhoods.

    Rowayton doesn’t even have a state-sanctioned Harbor Management Plan like Norwalk Harbor does (the Norwalk Harbor Management Plan, or NHMP), been though Greene should have demanded it years ago if he actually cared about protecting Norwalk’s waterfront communities. Of course, it probably would not made any difference as long as Greene sits in that important position doing mostly nothing except processing zoning applications for $165,000 and 2 full months paid vacation a year. Nice work if you can get it.

    . That state-approved NHMP requires Greene to coordinate the Planning, Zoning, and Harbor Commissions in order to protect the natural scenery, fragile ecology, and neighborhood character of our greatest natural asset, the Norwalk Harbor, yet when I served on the Zoning Commission for 6 years I never once heard Greene mention that important plan. I was bullied and harassed by the GOP thugs on the Zoning Commission, especially by the Chair Joe Santo, when I demanded the NHMP be enforced when I became alarmed at the number of huge houses and docks going in all around the Harbor, with floodlights and speaker systems, turning Norwalk Harbor into the New Jersey coast which I saw get ruined in my lifetime with poorly planned development.

    Even the small government conservative GOP Governor Chris Christie has jumped in and demanded MORE regulation of the overbuilt New Jersey coastline after public outcry over what has been permanently lost from poor planning decisions over the last 40 years, exactly what is happening in Norwalk now.

    It’s not too late for us, as we still have a mostly beautiful Harbor and coastline, but it is rapidly changing, project by project, until in just a few years we may not recognize Norwalk as a beautiful New England coastal city any longer. We must enforce the NHMP, coordinate the Planning, Zoning, and Harbor Commissions (P and Z staff is so arrogant and inept the Harbor Commission threw them out of their meetings a while back) in every decision instead of just rubber-stamping everything which is done now, and demand that the Five Mile River Commission immediately begin work on a state-approved Harbor Management Plan for the Rowayton community. We must also respect property an riparian rights too, but we are way out of balance here, and we have a lot more potential power backed by federal and state laws (including through Harbor Management Plans) to regulate development than we are currently using.

    Former Zoning Chair Jackie Lighfield, who was chair for 6 years, wasn’t even aware that the NHMP was approved and in force when it came up the other right, and I do not fault her for it, as it was the staff’s job to make sure it was being implemented and enforced, including making sure the 3 commissions were being coordinated on every application, just as the plan requires staff to do, except they don’t. They just can’t be bothered by that pesky plan, I guess.

    It is so obvious at this point to almost everyone in town who cares about this city’s future that need to replace Mike Greene with a qualified and professional planner who is not beholden to the old-school GOP cronies like Joe Santo. Norwalk residents are paying attention now to how serious these issues are, and the petty games that are still being played while Norwallk falls decades behind in planning and zoning reform (including using petty zoning violations as retaliation for demanding accountability and professionalism, which I know well). The mosque, BJ’s, and so many other controversial applications all followed our broken zoning code, and the token band-aids that are being offered up now are not enough.

    We need a real shake-up, and the old-school Republicans who gave us this mess must step aside and let a new bi-partisan crew come in, with caring and professional folks on both sides of the aisle, to begin to clean it up. That simply will not happen with the unqualified and arrogant Greene remaining in his position.

  4. Don’t Panic

    Oh the irony! If David McCarthy were to assist in collecting signatures for a public hearing to protect environmental concerns…

  5. Rowayton

    And skippy g fights against a dock install !

  6. Norwalker1

    Skip Gardella against a dock install ha ha ! good one #row

  7. John Hamlin

    No one ever seems to have any facts to contradict Mr Mushak on his arguments regarding the planning and zoning approach, commission, department or director. If there’s evidence to rebut what he’s saying, which always references supporting facts, isn’t it time for supporters of the zoning approach and personnel in Norwalk to come forward with those arguments and facts?

  8. Suzanne

    Mr. Hamlin, I have never seen Mr. Mushak say anything that wasn’t supported by documentation in hand in a meeting. To complain about his points belies the facts that he presents based upon research and a clear grasp of regulations and mandates. No one else seems to want to bother to do the research or has the inclination to refute his points.

    Could this then be that Mr. Mushak represents the facts that are, in fact, true? And to further that logic, then requires that Planning and Zoning change their process? And that a City Planner to oversee the various entities involved in development be hired?

    In addition, Ms. Wallerstein, in an earlier thread suggested consulting towns who have accomplished urban renewal successfully be consulted.

    All good ideas but it appears that the existing staff are all threatened by the specter of change. It has to happen sometime. Otherwise, our choices are what we have and I do not find that acceptable.

  9. Oldtimer

    Rowayton is part of Norwalk and is covered by the State approved harbor management plan.

  10. John Hamlin

    @Suzanne — my point exactly — he supports his points with facts, and those opposed to him don’t seem to ever point to any facts to rebut him. And no one responded to my post with any cogent fact-based opposition to Mr Mushak’s positions. Just another indication he’s right.

  11. Mike Mushak

    Thank you John Hamlin and Suzanne. I know I’m right and instead of arguing with facts, I am attacked with zoning violations and name calling (must recently called a “disgusting human being” in the middle of a public meeting by Planning Commissioner Victor Cavallo, for calling out the truth that Mike Greene and the Planning Commission are not doing their jobs planning the city.)

    OldTimer, the Norwalk Harbor Management Plan specifically excludes the Five Mile River in Rowayton, which has its own Harbor Commission but still lacks a Management Plan, but it does cover the outer area of Rowayton including Pine Point, Bell Island, and Wilson Cove. This is described in Chapter 5. We are both right! I stand by my point that Mike Greene completely ignored the NHMP in every waterfront application the whole time I served on the Zoning Commission, and whenever I brought it up I was ridiculed and bullied by Joe Santo and Jim White, even using my insistence that we follow the NHMP as required by law as a reason to go to Moccia and dand I not get reappointed, because I was “against property rights”. Moccia ignored them to his credit and reappointed me. Now this attitude from Santo and company is coming back to haunt them, and Rowayton is a sleeping giant that is finally waking up to the corrupt nonsense I have had to deal with for years.

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