Protect the Partrick Wetlands
and our Community

No Passive Approval Given

ARS' Attorney Larry Weisman was curiously quoted as pleased with the Planning and Zoning Commission's denial of his client's plan to overdevelop the Partrick Wetlands and northwestern Westport. His optimism was based on the flawed premise that some form of passive or tacit approval was granted with the denial. Essentially saying, since they only denied the application for environmental reasons everything else is acceptable.

This is simply not the case. The denial without prejudice that was suggested by First Selectman Diane Farrell was to allow an independent third party to review and test the known contaminated property and then allow ARS to resubmit a plan for full and comprehensive review. That's it.

The question of environmental impact was purposefully the only issue decided upon by the commission. Discussions about traffic, character, property values and more were all tabled, as deliberations could not continue without knowing if the land was safe in the first place.

Commissioner Duane Nelson was quite vocal about this concept and it was affirmed publicly by Town Attorney Ira Bloom when he agreed with Mr. Nelson during a special public work session that I, 40 neighbors and our attorneys attended. It was witnessed.

Yet Mr. Weisman is so enamored with his preposterous premise that he wrote it into his appeal of the P&Z decision. What he is trying to do is end run due process and circumvent the commission's authority over the land. This is an unacceptable and dangerous situation and everyone in Westport should be offended by this latest tactic.

Are we to believe Chairwoman Ellie Lowenstein wrote the decision knowing she was really approving what was not deliberated? No. Are we to believe Commissioner Michael Stashower wouldn't have thrown up the red flag if he thought their actions were making future decisions moot? No. Are we to believe that the other five commissioners all missed this concept? No, it was never discussed or mentioned. Why? Because it makes no sense.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will, of course, consider the outstanding planning and zoning issues, such as road access, neighborhood character, traffic impact and useable open space, when and if ARS reapplies. But first the land has to come up clean.

The new application must and will be subject to a full public hearing process. At the conclusion of which the commission must and will determine ALL the issues and then make a decision. Anything less would be a corruption of the system that we depended on to protect all of our interests.

Bert Aber, Westport