Protect the Partrick Wetlands
The battle lines of Partrick Road have been drawn, the file has been closed and there will be no more hearings. It is up to the Planning & Zoning Commission to make its decision. They have heard the spirited and expert opposition to the developer's plans to jam in 22 homes on high spots of the wetlands. They heard about the dangerous roads, the sewer problems, the negative effect on the neighborhood and possibly on the aquifer and they know about unanimous opposition to the development and they also know they have flaky regulations which need interpretation.
But, although urged by professionals to find out, they still don't know whether the land is dangerously contaminated. The developer has submitted his own survey thought by many to be inadequate and in effect has resisted further examinations by independent experts. He does say in recent news reports " if any additional arsenic is found on the property during construction, it would be removed from the site." The newspaper does not mention that the plan is for new owners to be responsible for clean-up and maintenance of the wetlands once the developer has sold the homes and gone away. The P&Z at one point, by a split vote, said they didn't require more information but the First Selectwoman Diane Farrell, to her credit and praise, understands the situation and has said the town would pay for such an independent analysis. And she and some members of the P&Z have pressed for it to happen. But after she filed that statement the file was closed without further action and it is up to the P&Z, relying on the information they have, to decide how they're going to handle this hot potato which will emerge full blown unless they turn down the application for other reasons.
Before we get immersed further in the technicalities I want to brush them aside. The regulations are sufficiently sloppy so that the P&Z can take the common sense attitude that under no conditions will they allow homes to be built on contaminated land. They may rationalize the bad roads and the sewer arrangements that give a valuable easement to a private developer without compensation and other convincing reasons why this developer should be turned down but additionally they may not risk saying "OK" to poisonous elements in the ground, not just the building sites of about 9 acres but all 55 acres in the development. If for no other reasons they must deny the whole application until this item is sorted out by independent testing. They owe it to future owners of homes in the development and to all of us. There is no room for equivocation.
Future buyers may turn litigious against the town if the situation deteriorates.
Knowing all that has transpired, would you buy a new home in this development absent a professional survey? I don't think I would.
Sidney B. Kramer, Chairman
Save Westport Now