Protect the Partrick Wetlands
and our Community

Westport Sewer decision to be reviewed

Hour Staff Writer

WESTPORT -- The Representative Town Meeting Finance Committee has delayed voting on a recommendation regarding the $37.7 million necessary for the wastewater treatment plant upgrade, and as a result the Board of Selectmen will reconsider its approval of a sewer extension from Norwalk down Newtown Turnpike.

The Finance Committee met Monday night to consider its recommendation of the funding to the full RTM, but it tabled the matter until members receive more information.

Included are issues surrounding a letter sent from the state Department of Environmental Protection regarding the sewer extension from Norwalk to the Partrick Wetlands down Newtown Turnpike.

The town is slated to receive $8 million in state aid and a low-interest loan from the state for the project, but town officials received a letter from the DEP last month stating that there could be "complications" with the funding because of the proposed sewer extending from Norwalk down Newtown Turnpike.

The sewer is for a proposed 22-house project and it is not included the town's sewer plan.

Two RTM members have proposed a nonbinding resolution asking that the Board of Selectmen, which acts as the Water Pollution Control Authority, rescind its approval for the sewer.

As a result, Selectman John Izzo, who did not vote in favor of the extension in 2003, requested a discussion on rescinding the sewer approval.

The item is slated for discussion at the Sept. 29 Board of Selectmen meeting.

Izzo said the board should have never voted for the sewer, and he feels more strongly about it than he did a year ago.

By rescinding the sewer approval, he said, it resolves the issues with the state and upholds the town sewer plan.

Selectman Carl Leaman said he needs more information, including a clarification from state officials on their position, before he is ready to vote either way.

First Selectwoman Diane Farrell said she is willing to listen to the RTM, and if there is overwhelming support for an issue, she is willing to review it.

"We do need to focus on the plant upgrade," she said.

Matthew Mandell, Partrick Wetlands Preservation Fund co-director, said the selectmen made a mistake in approving the plan and the time has come to correct it.

"Northwest Westport was designated a sewer-avoidance area and there is no reason a sewer should come into it from any municipality," he said.