Protect the Partrick Wetlands
and our Community

Partrick sewer approval denied by Norwalk mayor

By: Bonnie Adler , Staff Writer Minuteman 10/21/2004

ARS Partners, the embattled developer of a proposed 22-unit clustered housing project on a 56-acre site at the Partrick Road and Newtown Turnpike intersection in Westport, was dealt a setback last week when the Norwalk Mayor Alex Knopp decided that a two-year-old decision to approve a sanitary sewer extension from Norwalk to Westport was no longer valid.

Knopp said, "It is my opinion that there is no existing valid permit from the Norwalk WPCA for ARS (the developer) to extend and construct its proposed sewer line in Norwalk."

Knopp contended that the approval by the Norwalk board was contingent on approval of the project by the Westport Planning and Zoning Commission. He indicated that since the Planning and Zoning Commission had denied the application without prejudice in 2003, there was no permit to rescind.

"My recommendation is intended to set the stage for a fair and orderly review by the WPCA of a new application, if one should be submitted, and that review should include consideration of the final report from the Cranbury Task Force," Knopp said. The Cranbury Task Force was set up in Norwalk last year to conduct an independent study on the impact of development in the Norwalk-Westport-Wilton border area and is named after a neighborhood street in Norwalk near the proposed development.

The task force will be soon draft its final report, which will be made available to the public before it is completed as a final document. Interested parties will be able to attend a public meeting when the draft is made available.

The proposed development has aroused the interest and opposition of hundreds of concerned neighbors, who fear the increased traffic, loss of neighborhood character, sprawl, environmental hazards and disruption of the wetlands the project will create. Opponents have attended many of the meetings held by the Westport land use bodies, presenting unremitting opposition to the project. The Partrick Wetlands Preservation Fund, headed by Matthew Mandel, has spearheaded the opposition.

Knopp's opinion was rendered after the Westport Water Pollution Control Board requested to meet with the Norwalk board to discuss the extension of the sanitary sewer line from Norwalk to Westport to service the proposed development. At a recent meeting of the Westport board, member John Izzo asked the board to consider rescinding its own approval of the sewerextension.

After a lengthy and contentious meeting, it was decided to table a vote on the issue and seek a meeting with the Norwalk board to discuss the matter instead. Knopp's opinion was rendered in a letter to Norwalk Water Pollution Control Board Chairman John Atkin last Friday.

At this time, ARS Partners has filed a new application with the Westport Planning and Zoning Commission, but until the sewer issue is resolved, the matter is on hold.

According to Westport Town Attorney Ira Bloom, the project has been a contentious one from the start. Bloom said there are now three lawsuits pending over the decision by the Planning and Zoning Commission to deny the application without prejudice. Both the developer and the neighborhood opposition group, as well as two residents, are suing the town over that decision.