Protect the Partrick Wetlands
and our Community

Sewer Issue Killed

Hour Staff Writer

NORWALK — A half-dozen Westport residents left Norwalk City Hall on Monday night comforted that a proposed sewer line into their neighborhood is dead for now.

“It’s clear that the (city) of Norwalk understood that the sewer is a different issue than it was two years ago. Conditions change, and it’s important to act upon those changes,” said Partrick Wetlands Preservation Fund Director Matthew Mandell, leaving the Water Pollution Control Authority meeting.

Mandell and neighbors have fought ARS Partners’ plan to build a 22-unit housing development at the Partrick Wetlands in Westport.

Norwalk Mayor Alex Knopp concluded Friday that WPCA approval of a Newtown Avenue sewer line to serve it is not valid. The Westport Planning and Zoning Commission never approved ARS’ site-plan application — a condition of the WPCA approval in November 2002.

“Therefore, in my mind, there is not permit ... obviously ARS is free to come back and make another (sewer) permit application” to the WPCA, Knopp said.

Knopp said conditions placed on permits ensure that they do not become “stale.” In this case, he said the WPCA is entitled to consider new information learned since 2002.

Bruce I. Kimmel voted for the sewer permit as a council member in the late 1990s — council approval of the sewer has expired — but now opposes it as overdevelopment.

“Maybe the only way out of this is two towns acting in concert,” Kimmel said. “With conditional approvals, we’ve got to be very careful, not only for our town, but especially if there is more than one municipality involved.”

“(ARS) would come to us and say, ‘Westport was doing this,’ and they would go to Westport and say, ‘Norwalk was doing this’ ... and waiting for the other town to blame,” Kimmel said.

Sean Timmins, a Partrick Road resident, thanked WPCA members for clarifying what he described as a discussion among attorneys.

“We were here to support the mayor’s confirmation that ARS has no permit from the (city) of Norwalk,” Timmins said.

In a related matter, Knopp said the Cranbury Neighborhood Task Force will hold a public hearing before adopting its final report on development along the Norwalk-Westport border.

Gail Wall of the Save Cranbury Association said neighbors are pleased that the sewer permit no longer holds, but hinted that their concerns are not over.

“I guess we’ll take a wait-and-see attitude and see what happens ... They have a very large investment,” said Wall, referring to ARS Partners’ commitment to the development.

ARS Partners this summer submitted a new site-plan application for the housing project to the Westport Planning and Zoning Commission.

It remains on hold until the sewer issues are resolved, according to Planning and Zoning Department Director Katherine Barnard.