Protect the Partrick Wetlands
and our Community

P&Z Staff Takes Turned Down Study to ARS
They Agree to Pay

By Jen Connic

Printed in the Norwalk Hour

The proposed developer of the former F.D. Rich site has agreed to pay for an independent environmental consultant to test the site, but neighbors do not believe the test will go far enough.

The Board of Finance rejected a $33,000 proposal this week to hire an independent consultant to test the site, which is located between Newtown Turnpike and Partrick Road.

The test is part of a proposal to build 22 homes on the site by ARS Partners. The plan also calls to extend a Norwalk sewer line down Newtown Avenue to the site.

The application was rejected “without prejudice” earlier this year in order for the independent environmental testing to be completed. Larry Weisman, ARS Partners attorney, said his clients do not mind paying for the tests.

“We’re disappointed because the independent consultant is being hired at the urging of the first selectwoman, and she said she would find the money for it,” he said.

Weisman said it has not been determined when ARS Partners would file a new application.

“It will be when the testing is completed, so it depends how long it takes,” he said.

The original application was rejected, he said, because the testing was not included, so filing a second application without the testing would bring the same result.

Planning and Zoning Director Katherine Barnard said the study will take place after Nov. 14, when a new ordinance goes into effect that requires zoning applicants to pay for independent consultants.

Neighbors, however, have said they want to see a more extensive test of the site than what has been proposed by the planning and zoning staff. Barnard said when the staff reviewed the testing proposals, they carefully looked at the written resolution from the commission asking for the independent test.

“The one that was chosen was on the mark for what the P&Z wanted,” she said.

Barnard said she does not believe she can go back to the commission to ask for a different study because it made a binding decision. “I have a responsibility to follow through on it,” she said.

Matthew Mandell, Partrick Wetlands Preservation Fund president, said he does not understand why the testing needs to be rushed and why the newly elected Planning and Zoning Commission is not being consulted. “It should be their study and not a staff interpretation of what they think the commission wants,” he said.

The study is too limited because it will not test the whole property or the adjacent town property, which is a former dump, Mandell said. “The citizens of Westport should not and will not stand for this,” he said.