Protect the Partrick Wetlands
Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission grant their approval tonight. Ron Malone for WestportNow.com
The Planning and Zoning Commission approved a settlement between the town, Partrick Wetlands neighbors and ARS Partners during its meeting tonight.
Five years ago, Fairfield-based ARS Partners started the process to develop the property, and the first plans included 31 homes and a sewer extension down Newtown Turnpike from Norwalk.
The settlement the commission approved includes 13 single-family homes on the Newtown Turnpike side of the property, the 22 acres on the Partrick Road side donated to the Partrick Wetlands Preservation Fund and a private sewer line down Wilton Road.
Town Attorney Ira Bloom said the agreement will be signed by all the parties within the next week and a court date will be set for it to be submitted to a judge.
The approved plan represents the settlement of six lawsuits, he said.
Bloom said in the eight years he has been town attorney, the settlement represents the most complicated land use matter he has had to handle.
“We are fortunate we all came together and came to a positive ending,” he said. “This plan is scaled down with 13 homes, is environmentally safe and has 22 acres of open space.”
Bloom said while 22 acres will be donated to the Partrick Wetlands Preservation Fund, the group will need to find a land trust to donate the land to manage it. If the group does not within a certain amount of time, it will be given to the town, he said.
The sewer line—which the Board of Selectmen approved Wednesday night—will be private and designed so it can only be used by the 13 homes on the property, Bloom said.
The commission, he said, met in executive session at least once per week over the last few months, and it was essential in finalizing the settlement.
“It’s why you won’t hear them ask a lot of questions,” he said.
Larry Weisman, ARS Partners attorney, said he worked with a good group of lawyers to finalize the plan.
He said the property has been the subject of development plans for 40 years, and he has been involved for the last 30 years. He has mixed feelings about it coming to an end, he said.
“This is a good deal for everyone,” he said.
Area residents did bring forward some concerns about the settlement during the public hearing.
Mark Hayward, of Oakwood Lane, said he has lived four months in a property adjacent to the area that will be developed.
Walking around the property, he said, he noticed a number of oil tanks that have been dumped.
“You need to get rid of them,” he said. “I’m not against developing the property, but you need to clean it up.”
Both Bloom and Weisman said the oil tanks among other things will be cleaned up from the property before it is developed.
Nita Sankomovitch, of Twin Falls Lane, said she only found out about the settlement today, and she and others have not been part of the process.
“The public that was not involved with the settlement is not aware of what is going on,” she said. “The settlement is not even finalized.”
She said she doesn’t understand why the commission is so quick to move forward with approving the settlement, and it makes her nervous.
Commission Chairwoman Eleanor Lowenstein said the proper legal notices were published in the proper time period.