Protect the Partrick Wetlands
One man seems to be making policy for the Town when it comes to the Partrick Wetlands. He is not an elected official, nor is he appointed. He works for a firm hired by the Town. He is the Town Attorney, Ira Bloom.
In his advisory position his opinions on town regulations and law are being taken as gospel by our boards and commissions and without any corroboration are shaping their decisions. Even in the face of conflicting opinions by other lawyers and knowledgeable citizens his suggestions seem to rule.
In the Conservation hearings the Town Attorney's office wrote that the commission should not use the 85' wetland setback for houses above an aquifer, section 7.6 of the commission's regulations, because no prior commission had utilized it. This is a very narrow and conservative opinion and aided development, in that 8 houses above the aquifer are still proposed to sit 35-45 feet from the wetlands.
In the Water Pollution Control Authority hearings Mr. Bloom's opinion to draw a very thin jurisdiction allowed the commission to say environmental issues and even water pollution were not within their purview. This again was a very narrow and conservative opinion and aided development.
Now in the pending Planning and Zoning hearings he has given an opinion that the use an antiquated 1960 road designation for Newtown Tpke and Partrick Rd should be utilized, counter to what the P&Z regulations and the current Town Plan say. This is a very broad and liberal opinion and aids development.
Are these opinions just the luck of the law? Where are the checks and balances that are supposed to be in place to protect the citizens? Why do the residents of Westport have to bear the burden and expense to appeal these opinions in court when just allowing other legal opinions to be heard fairly and then considered equally would be enough.
The idea of allowing Newtown Tpke and Partrick Road to be considered arterial roads on the order of the Post Road runs counter to everything we know. It runs counter to the spirit and text of the Town Plan and counter to the P&Z mandates. Twice Larry Weisman, on behalf of ARS Partners (Al DeMarco, Ralph Grasso, Steve Folb), has asked the Town to change the road designations and twice he was rebuffed. This new opinion should not be allowed to circumvent what the system has already decided. The protections currently in place should not be bypassed by one person's opinion.