Protect the Partrick Wetlands
and our Community

Good, Test, But it's Not the Only Issue

To the Editor:

The unreasonable foot dragging by the town to investigate possible contamination of the Partrick Wetlands seems to be over. We applaud Diane Farrell's letter asking the Planning and Zoning Commission to bring in a third party to review the environmental data, but it's really only a good first step. Reviewing old, poor and incomplete studies is still not enough. Only a new and full toxicological and hydrological study of the wetlands and the adjacent town dump will allay the justified fears that exist. Two members of the commission have already sought this better solution and we hope the rest will concur.

But let's make one thing clear, this is not the only issue on P&Z's plate with regard to this application for development. Clear aspects to the zoning regulations have not been met by the applicant ARS. Road access to the site is a key issue upon which part or the entire development depends.

Direct access, principal access and frontage for the Open Space Residential zone must be to, from and on a Major Thoroughfare or Arterial Street. Neither Newtown Turnpike or Partrick Road meet this important criteria according the 1997 Town Plan and the CT Department of Transportation. If we go back to the 1960 Town Plan, as the Town Attorney says, then only Newtown Turnpike meets this.

While some might call this a technicality, it is not. The framers of this zone purposefully put these conditions in, no less than three times, to specifically protect smaller roads, such as Partrick, from the impact that cluster housing and the desires of a developer, such as ARS, to overbuild a neighborhood, would bring. By Partrick being a secondary road all proposed houses with principal access to it, which happens to be all of them, do not meet the regulations and therefore should be denied.

In addition, Al DeMarco, Ralph Grasso and Steve Folb in their desire to maximize their return stretched the regulations and have proposed 22 houses on nine acres of buildalbe land with 18 of them on the wetland setback. These houses with 10 foot backyards create a disaster waiting to happen. Not only will the wetlands be harmed by normal human behavior, but it will cause the town to have to deal with a policing and regulatory nightmare for years to come. The myriad deed restrictions to control these inhabitants to allow such close proximity to such sensitive areas were never submitted and ARS has actually avoided submitting them to any agency for over a year.

The list of other pertinent issues such as no usable space, no ground water testing, no workable landscaping, as well as questions about character of neighborhood, property values, and safety linger and cumulatively prove the ARS proposal to be severely lacking in design and that it needn't to be foisted upon the neighbors of the Partrick Wetlands. The proposal's impact, which is exacerbated by the sewer proposed to serve it, will have ramifications that will extend to the whole town through loss of open space, sprawl and increased traffic congestion.

Testing of the land should be done, but this proposal could and should be long denied before the first sample of soil is even sent to the lab.

Matthew Mandell
Director, Partrick Wetlands Preservation Fund Inc.