Protect the Partrick Wetlands
That question is being asked by some residents of the Partrick Road area, where they have been fighting against approval of a housing development at the former F.D. Rich site.
Jamie Cochrane, who lives near the proposed housing development, complained in a letter to the Westport News that Town Attorney Ira Bloom "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."
Asked yesterday about the allegation, Bloom said: "My job under the town charter is to give legal advice to the town's boards and commissions fairly and objectively. And based on the applicable law."
The town directory, which lists elected and appointed officials, states that he serves at the pleasure of the first selectwoman. It doesn't mention Wake, See, Dimes and Bryniczka
the firm where Bloom works.
Turning to the pending Planning and Zoning hearings, Cochrane said Bloom "has given an opinion that an antiquated 1960 road designation for Newtown Turnpike and Partrick Road 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 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?"
Cochrane concluded: "The idea of allowing Newtown Turnpike 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, [an attorney] on behalf of ARS Partners [the building firm] 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."
Despite what appear to be problems caused by Bloom's rulings, many of the opinions in the case have been challenged or will be. Many observers of town government believe the case, in which the Partrick group is fighting against the development, eventually will be decided upon in court.
The Partrick Wetlands Preservation Fund, Inc. has been established by the area residents and other Westporters concerned about land issues and development. Its address is www.savewestport.com