Protect the Partrick Wetlands
"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.