Protect the Partrick Wetlands
and our Community

Sewer Line is Being Reconsidered in Norwalk;
Threatens ARS Partners' Housing Proposal

By Kirk Lang
Printed in the Westport News

A sewer line from Norwalk that ARS' Partners was relying on for its 22-unit housing proposal in Westport is now being reconsidered by the city, according to the Westport News' sister paper, Norwalk-Citizen News.

The sewer has had Norwalk residents concerned about homeowners being able to subdivide their properties, and about the proposed development of the 18-acre White Barn Theatre property, a plan that includes building 13-single family homes. Westporters are worried about ARS Partners' housing application and its possible environmental impact on the 55-acre former F.D. Rich site, as well as the traffic it would bring.

Recently, opponents of the White Barn plan met at Norwalk's Cranbury Chapel to discuss what should be done. Norwalk Mayor Alex Knopp, who was present at the meeting, said the city has no interest in promoting a Westport developer. The Norwalk-Citizen News reported Knopp said the previous administration approved extending the sewer line from Norwalk into Westport. Knopp was quoted in the Norwalk Advocate as saying, "The city has no interest in installing a sewer line that is a detriment to Norwalk and serves development in Westport."

Matthew Mandell, spokesman for the Partrick Wetlands Preservation Fund, which consistently argued against ARS Partners' plan at P&Z hearings, said of Knopp, "He realizes that what happens in one town affects another." "It's a regional view of development, which is to stop over-development." Two months ago, the zoning board denied ARS Partners' application without prejudice, claiming it wanted more environmental testing done. Once that is completed, however, ARS can come back with another application.

"The impact of development crosses town borders. Cooperation between towns is necessary to address these problems," said Mandell. ARS was going to pay for the cost of the sewer, which would be part of Norwalk's sanitary sewer system.

During the summer, before the ARS housing proposal was denied, ARS attorney Larry Weisman told the P&Z he was already getting phone calls from people asking when they would be able to subdivide their properties.

The Norwalk sewer approval was dependent upon ARS' housing application getting the okay from the P&Z.

Knopp will look into whether the Norwalk approval stands for any future application from ARS the P&Z might approve.

Mandell said the sewer, if it is built, will allow for more development in Norwalk, Wilton and Weston, "more than what would occur naturally." ARS originally proposed public sewer hook-up to the Town of Westport. However, the Westport Water Pollution Control Authority, favored a private extension to reduce maintenance costs to the town.