Protect the Partrick Wetlands
and our Community

Knopp to review sewer extension

By Ryan Jockers
Printed in the Norwalk Advocate

NORWALK - Mayor Alex Knopp said last night the city will reconsider a plan to extend a sewer line through the Cranbury neighborhood into Westport that residents fear will support un­wanted development.

"The city has no interest in in­stalling a sewer line that is a detriment to Norwalk and serves development in Westport," Knopp, said.

Knopp's comments came during a two-hour meeting at­tended by 50 residents in Cran­bury Chapel on -Newtown Avenue - the first meeting by a new organization called Save Cranbury.

The group formed primarily in response to a plan to build 13 houses and a perfornting arts school at the 18-acre White Barn Theater property on New­town Avenue.

Group leaders said the neigh­borhood must unite, become well-versed in the zoning process and raise money to hire traffic and water safety experts to combat the White Barn plan.

They said the White Barn proposal, along with a second de­veloper's plan for 22 houses on a nearby 60-acre lot in Westport, could potentially change the character of the neighborhood.

"Our mission tonight " said Peter Hynes, a Newtown avenue resident and organizer of Save Cranbury, "is to come together in agreement, at least have a loud voice, or oppose it entirely, and to allow the neighbors most af­fected to know what's going On."

Residents at last night's meet­ing said the key to opposing the White Barn plans and the pro­posed development in Westport was to stop the sewer extension. The meeting offered advice to residents in battling develop­ment from people experienced in such matters.

The extension would connect to a Proposed 22-unit develop­ment on the 60-acre F.D. Rich site on Partrick Avenue. Four years ago, Norwalk's Common Council voted to extend the sewer, mainly because the develop­er, ARS Partners, proposed paying for the extension.

But extending the sewer line was predicated on the ARS de­velopment getting approval from Westport. The Westport Planning & Zoning Commission recently denied the ARS plan without prejudice - meaning the developer can submit a mod­ified version of the original plan.

Knopp, said the city will ex­amine whether a new plan for the F.D. Rich site would need a new decision regarding the sewer extension.

Westport resident Matthew Mandell, president of the Par­trick Wetlands Preservation Fund, which opposed the ARS plan, told residents at the meet­ing that the entire area was "un­der attack" by developers, and was thrilled by Knopp's deci­sion to revisit the sewer plan.

"That's great news " he said. Earlier, he had called'the sewer extension the "Hydra head " and that it would have propagated sprawl.

The White Theater prop­erty is owned by a foundation that, according to Norwalk attor­ney Frank Zullo, cannot justify having 18 acres when it only uses the on-site theater, founded by Lucille Lortel, during the summer.

It Plans to donate 5 acres to the city and sell 13 acres to a de­veloper. The proceeds from the sale would be used to refurbish the White Barn Theater. The Music Theater of Con­necticut plans to construct a 5,000-square-foot performing arts school on the city's parcel.

The foundation presented the plan to Cranbury neighbors in late June. Residents panned it and shortly afterward formed the neighborhood group. Zullo, a foundation member and for­mer Norwalk mayor, has said the foundation was re-examin­ing the plan, though no formal Proposal has been filed in City Hall.