Protect the Partrick Wetlands
Dear Selectman Farrell:
I am writing you on behalf of the Partrick Wetlands Preservation Fund Inc., a recently formed non profit community organization representing a growing number of families whose purpose is to protect the wetlands, environment and open space in our neighborhood.
I am in receipt of your letter dated December 20th with the enclosed memo from Ms. Mozian dated December 18th. This memo states that ARS would be withdrawing their second application to the conservation commission and also withdrawing their appeal of that same commission's decision of their first application. It goes on to say ARS will be submitting a third plan, in our opinion, under the guise of meeting conditions of the first decision to circumvent public scrutiny and comment.
I am also in receipt of a follow-up letter to me from Ms. Mozian dated Dec 26th which says ARS has withdrawn neither their application nor their appeal and have no intention of doing so until after the commission makes positive comment on this third plan. Again this would be without public comment by improperly using the January 15th work session for this third plan, rather than finishing up on the second plan which has not been withdrawn?
What is going on here? I understand ARS's fear of seeing their second application through to decision with a commission that member Mr. Kagen said is "smarter now." This newly educated commission, we believe and so must ARS, will not make the same decisions they made on the first application. We hope they would make amends on this second application by using this knowledge.
But why the reneg by ARS, why the flip flop unless it is to confuse all involved and sneak this third plan through without proper and legal hearings. How is this new plan so different from the second that it would not create the same impacts on the environment that are supposed to be decided upon. And if so different, then obviously it deserves to be heard in open and fair hearings.
The citizens of Westport have lost faith in the process and in turn the ability of the Conservation Commission to handle this fairly and free of manipulation, which obviously is occuring. The citizens were always wary of ARS and their intentions, but now they view them with complete distrust.
Allow me to give you a few reasons for these beliefs.
1. ARS never came to the citizens for a dialogue about their plan. The meeting held was a monologue where a plan was shown and ARS told the community this is what they are doing. Any promises were just lip service and quickly abandoned without any further discussion. The plan that was shown that day was the one proposed to conservation. There was no community input.
2. The ensuing conservation hearings were a hostile environment for the public, their views and opinions. The final decision ignored obvious parts of the record and questions formally presented by the public went unanswered. The reason for this attitude and decision is inexplicable.
3. The conditions that were placed were anything but "stringent" and were applied with an arbitrary and capricious hand. They created a 45' setback, but only applied it to some houses, leaving just as deserving sections of the wetland habitat unprotected and approved for destruction. They could have instituted an 85' setback in some areas, but didn't.
4. The condition for direct drilling was changed after the fact, in a closed door session; from minor test drilling to full drilling under the wetlands and brook. We believe this was a violation of procedure and will not stand up to legal scrutiny. But most of all it proves that a decision based on conditions is not in the public's interest. Especially when they can change without review. Any further decisions on conditions, which is what ARS is looking for, must be done as a new application in an open forum with public scrutiny and comment.
5. Not only was the condition for direct drilling changed, but ARS took advantage of this improper decision and the commission, by not just drilling, but sleeving the hole. The commission, realizing its mistake, then asked them to stop. ARS did the opposite and drilled a second hole, without permission and sleeved that one as well. Their position in the end was, it's done what do you want us to do.
6. ARS rushed an application into the Planning and Zoning commission, without any conservation approval for it, in an attempt to thwart a citizen's backed amendment to the zoning of the wetlands. This application will lapse useless and wasted the time and efforts of all involved.
7. Now the flip flop on the second application to conservation and the proposal of a third plan that they want to railroad through behind the people's backs.
There is more, much more, but I think this is enough for you to realize there is a problem that needs to be rectified. Assigning Ms. Mozian, who again I applaud for her efforts, to write another letter justifying what is completely unjustifiable is not sufficient and will not solve the problem at this juncture. Our organization wants to know what you, as the top elected official, are going to do to protect our rights, our open space, our drinking water, the wetland habitat and the environment.
Time is of the essence, a mailed response will only delay this matter. Please, if you can, use email instead to expedite this most serious matter.
We all look forward to your support of our neighborhood, our goals and the Partrick wetlands.