Protect the Partrick Wetlands
and our Community

ARS has No Ringing Endorsement going into P&Z

Al DeMarco, Ralph Grasso and Steve Folb, otherwise known as ARS Partners, are heading into Planning & Zoning with their proposal to put cluster housing on the Partrick Wetlands with anything but a "ringing endorsement." Which is exactly what First Selectman Diane Farrell said.

Far from it. They have a project that has nothing but doubt and confusion surrounding it and are being led by attorney Larry Weisman who years ago successfully represented the neighbors in protecting this same piece of open space he now seeks to develop.

Sure they have an approval from the Conservation Commission, which all toled allowed 22 houses. But in their desire to maximize their profit, DeMarco, Grasso and Folb went back to what they saw as a pliable and indulgent commission and sought to add two more houses. Instead of another slam dunk, ARS was met by a newly organized and outraged citizens group who beat them soundly in these second set of hearings. It wasn't even close. This new group educated the commission and pointed out errors in the first approval which drew a firm and resounding statement from commissioner Jerry Kagen, "I'm smarter now." ARS and Weisman seeing the writing on the wall, turned tail and took the original 22 house gift and moved on. But the questions about run off from the town dump, toxic soil, aquifer and water contamination, fragmentation and destruction of animal habitats and impacts of pesticides and fertilizers were never answered.

The next commission which allowed this proposal to move forward was the Water Pollution Control Authority. Utilizing an opinion by the Town Attorney Ira Bloom, to limit their jurisdiction, in the face of two well researched and presented briefs, allowed the commission to side step questions about environmental impacts, public health and even water pollution. According to Bloom, The Water Pollution Control authority had no jurisdiction over water pollution. The commission was hand cuffed by this narrow opinion and regulations, which had member Carl Leaman saying unhappily, I vote yes, "whether I like it or not, for good or bad.."

Essentially this commission never "approved" of the sewer in question, they ended up merely saying that the sewer would not harm Westport's sewer system. Well of course it wouldn't since the sewer will send the excrement to Norwalk. It was an approval of nothing. Again questions about the dump runoff, toxic soil and ground water, the impact to the aquifer and well water contamination went unanswered. Aside from what would happen if the pumps and sewer failed and contaminated the wetlands and ground water. In other words creating water pollution.

Are these two approvals worth writing home to mama about? NO!!! Is this the foundation we want to build a cluster development on within that last and largest piece of open space and wetlands in Westport? NO!!!.

So DeMarco, Grasso, Folb and Weisman take this bag of unanswered questions, these tenuous approvals to the next stage, Planning and Zoning. One can only hope that this commission whose job is to protect the citizens and Westport will see through the smoke and mirrors and lay this proposal to rest.

Sean Timmins
Westport, CT