MOREHOUSE FARM PARK ORIGINALLY PROPOSED FOR A NEW SCHOOL. 
Environmental reasons nixed this concept.  (L) Fletcher-Thompson version of school plan (OK'd by Special Town Meeting Nov. 15, 2001) including drawing of Morehouse use as playing fields (upper right of the map for the Referendum).  Vacant land stories - more from around CT:  FROMSON-STRASSLER story at P&Z here.


Conservation Commission
...FROMSON-STRASSLER ("Parish Ridge")

"COMPLAINT" FILED AGAINST CONSERVATION IN SUPERIOR COURT FEB. 25...reason 21(i) (of the "arbitrary and capricious" part) states:  "Members of the Commission during the course of the public hearing evidenced a clear bias against the Plaintiffs' application and a predisposition to deny the application."  None that we noticed during the hearings--please go to reports below...

As posted in the Town Clerk's Office Monday morning, Feb. 11, 2002...and see above for Fromson-Strassler response...

------------------------
LEGAL NOTICE: "D E C I S I O N "
"Notice is hereby given that the Weston Conservation Commission held a special meeting at Weston Town Hall on February 4, 2002, and a motion was made to DENY the application of Howard Fromson and David Strassler for a permit for the following regulated activities in or near wetlands and/or watercourses:  development of 18 lots, construction of roadway, and installation of a suppression tank and storm water grit separator on approximately 83 acres of land located at the southern end of Upper Parish Drive abutting the Wilton town line."
(To be published in the Thursday, Feb. 14, 2002 Weston FORUM)




Work session open to public, Saturday morning, Jan. 19, Town Hall, 9:30-11am.
Commissioners set forth their initial feelings (meeting moved to warmer Meeting Room from Commission Room at 10:30am because of health considerations--heat turned down [freezing temperatures!!!] and locked up that way in Commission Room).  Notes left on doors and table noting the move to the warmer meeting room.

As to the meeting itself, all commissioners present voiced their initial feelings, and will be listening to the tapes of any meetings they missed in this application cycle.

  1. five (5) commissioners present--one not feeling well, the other had to recuse himself;
  2. representative of the applicant present in audience, newspaper; members of the public;
  3. each commissioner had opinions and stated them--option of proposing conditions rather than "up or down" discussed;
  4. box turtle, crossing town boundaries, use of multiple bathrooms/family flush totals, trade-off of open space for tight density, whether or not Wilton part of property is part of any equasion in conservation matters discussed...full record in front of Commission.
  5. dates offered for writing decision--MONDAY, FEB. 4 in the evening in Town Hall is next date--decision has to be made at the FEB. 6 regular meeting or else a special meeting will be needed;  the idea of getting an extension from the applicant for 35 days broached by Vice-Chair.  The meeting adjourned at 11:05am.


Conservation Public Hearing closed...35 days from Jan. 7 for decision...unless applicant grants 35 day extension.
Observer at the Jan 7. 2002 continuation reports lively public input and legal argument. 


DEC. 17, 2001 Public Hearing notes:
Much information submitted into the record about natural features and creatures by consultants for Town of Weston;  changes made by applicant relating to earlier reports by those consultants.  One consultant for the Conservation Commission suggests an alternative of community septic systems for dense clusters of homes in the "CD's"--three of them in this proposal equalling 18 houses (served by BHC water).  Lots are under 1 acre in size.  Applicant claims to offer all other land in Weston as open space or having open space easements, League thinks.  Land in Wilton not on the table for discussion, although applicant's report states in many tables that the total land of Parish Ridge is "129 acres."  More than 80 acres are in Weston.  One resident neighbor claims to know there is a Wampum Hill connection to Upper Parish through an "old wood road" that makes many more acres developable (than just the 15.7 acres plus suggested in this application).  Large tracts may thus open up for development as a result of Parish Ridge successful application.  This session of the Public Hearing lasted until 10:30pm.  CONTINUED TO JAN. 2.
Report from November 8 short Public Hearing...continuation Dec. 17 at 7:30pm in the Town Hall Meeting Room

NEXT PUBLIC HEARING DATE:  DEC. 17...a Monday evening
Now total length continued, after 45 day extension given, to January 7, 2001, location and time TBA...
FROMSON-STRASSLER ("Parish Ridge") PUBLIC HEARING AT CONSERVATION COMMISSION SPECIAL MEETING BEGAN TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9 in TOWN HALL;  consultants for the Town submitted reports for the November 8 continuation, and more time was needed, League suspects, to adequately respond to points made.  These consultant reports are available for public inspection in the Conservation Office at Town Hall.  A "walk" was scheduled again because flagging was not adequate (no member of the applicant's staff capable of leading the "walk" appeared at the original date, either).  Debate ensued regarding  what should be flagged and what should not;  a new "walk" date was set for Dec. 8 (Saturday).  Until the following missing items are supplied, Conservation did not want to proceed, as League heard it:
  1. Applicant must mark boundaries of septic systems on the ground
  2. Applicant must indicate 100' regulating buffer
  3. Indicate house footprint markings (most specific indicators in regulated areas)
  4. Tree removal marking
  5. To measure effects:  cutting and filling markers correlated with plans for each activity on each building site
  6. Need new staking for Public Water Supply lines (faded out)
  7. Mark center of road (with fresh stakes)
Attorney for Conservation and developer's attorney debated the meaning of "Avalon Bay" recent court decision; one member of the public spoke about need for developer to respond to request to remove debris.  Adjourned to continuation date noted above @ 9pm.



Tuesday, October 9 was opening of 45 day course of Conservation Public Hearing on Fromson-Strassler "Parish Ridge"...changed from Tuesday, October 30 for continuation and end of public's opportunity--at 7:30pm, Town Hall--to NOVEMBER 8 (Thursday) at 7:30pm in the Weston Library Community Room:

Conservation Commission announces "walk" for Commission on October 27--public allowed to join in;  Chair. of Commission recuses himself (he is a neighbor and attorney for applicant requested that he do so).  Vice-Chair. presided at Public Hearing. Adjourned @10:30pm until October 30 (Tuesday) at 7:30pm (?)...


PLANNING AND ZONING
- Fromson-Strassler...

Planning and Zoning Commission votes in favor of purchase of Fromson-Strassler Property at December 2, 2002 meeting, after Public Hearing on 8-24.

NOTE POWER LINE (left map):

On the left below is an earlier version of the Fromson-Strassler Property (as presented at Conservation Commission for inland wetlands approval for an 8 lot conventional layout);  on the right is a general area map locating the parcel--83 acres in Weston, the remainder of the 129 total acreage in Wilton.


Previously on "Affordable Housing" challenge;  $13,000 more for lawyer to defend P&Z.  For background:  Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously rejected challenge...their main reason (along with six pages of comment) cited as:

"...Although the Planning and Zoning Commission recognizes the need for affordable housing as described in the affordable housing statutes that have been adopted by the state of Connecticut and, in particular, the need for the Town of Weston to be sensitive to promote the establishment of affordable housing, the Fromson-Strassler application does not meet the standards for health, safety, conservation and environment protection that are paramount to the considerations of the Planning and Zoning Commission."

In the "complaint" dated April 12 (to be returned May 15),  the Plaintiffs, among other reasons, claim "...The entire record of the public hearing demonstrates the predisposition on the part of the Commission and an effort by the Commission to create and fabricate reasons for denial that would insulate the Town of Weston from the statutory requirements that it approve this Affordable Housing Application."


Will the issue of CL&P power lines be introduced here as reason to "cluster" homes?  The power line runs adjacent and parallel to direction of Upper Parish Road into Wilton...this is shown on map below (left).
"Not sufficient evidence in the file..." for denial say Howard Fromson and David Strassler.  They sue the Weston Planning and Zoning Commission in Affordable Housing Court...Maybe the applicant meant to sue some other town?  Reason number 19 in the suit says:  "The Property is zoned for principal permitted uses of single-family homes on three (3) acre lots."  Last time League looked, we have two (2) acre zoning in Weston.

PARISH RIDGE:  REJECTED UNANIMOUSLY BY P&Z.
Affordable Housing Development/Open Space Conservation Development; access only from Upper Parish Drive (proposed 3200'+ deadend)...This was the first affordable housing challenge for Weston, as was explained by Special Town Attorney (Town Attorney had recused himself).  See below for funding request by P&Z.  If appealed, more money needed to defend the Town.
Six (6) pages of reasons for denial available in the Town Clerk's Office Thursday, 4-5-01:
Board of Selectmen approves request for funds to complete consultant effort through decision time-frame.  Commission was expected to render decision in less than the 65 days permitted by law, as reported by Vice-Chair. of P&Z at Selectmen's meeting March 1--NOTE:  48 days needed from time Public Hearing closed until P&Z voted at April 2 meeting.
PUBLIC HEARING CLOSED AT SPECIAL TUESDAY, FEB. 13 at 6:30pm meeting:  report from League Co-President follows.

Testimony by two experts for the P&Z;  conceptual plan only (as this proposal turns out to be) lacks detail Weston usually needs to make decisions (although this is a matter for the Affordable Housing Court to decide).  Public water to be brought in by BHC--definite part of the application now.  Suggestion that the State of Connecticut DEP review this plan.  Questions about affordability of the proposed units, health aspects of septics so closely spaced (by qualified experts from the community) and possible conflict of interest raised by public.  Three and one half hour session (applicant's attorney not present for later stages).  One member of P&Z Commission had recused himself.
Planning&Zoning Affordable Housing PUBLIC HEARING, JAN. 22:  Continued from December 18, 2000--NEXT CONTINUATION  FEBRUARY 5, 2001 (NOTE:  and the above stated date for continuation was cancelled due to heavy snowfall--rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2001 at 6:30pm in Town Hall)...

LWV Observer notes that the crowd was sparse, and only four (4) individuals spoke. The evening was devoted to testimony by an independent planner from the northwest area of Connecticut.  After being challenged by the Fromson-Strassler attorney to say how many "affordable" units Weston had listed (1) in the 1999 official record of public or deed restricted affordable housing, compared to Litchfield (a community of similar size--having over 140 official affordable units) it was stated by the witness-planner that Litchfield had public water and sewer service in the center of Town, which was where the affordable housing units were located.  More to come from consultants on engineering and hydrology (click HERE for resume of hydrology consultant).
AT PLANNING & ZONING PUBLIC HEARING DEC. 18, 2000:
Members of the LWV of Weston were in the audience as the Planning and Zoning Commission opened the Public Hearing for the Fromson-Strassler AFFORDABLE HOUSING application --an "Open Space Conservation Development."  The applicant gave as two reasons for proposing this use of 83 acres of property in the Northwest corner of Weston (total acreage 129--the rest in Wilton):  first, the Conservation Commission approval of 8 lots on an Inland Wetlands permit recommended that CLUSTER be used to limit disturbance and second, Weston is only behind Easton as one of Connecticut's 137 Towns (32 are exempt) that do not provide "affordable housing" according to the legislature's definition (as stated in a letter dated February 10, 1999 from CT Department of Economic Development and Community Development).
WHAT'S AFFORDABLE? The attorney for the applicants suggested that "affordable housing" in Weston = $380-$390,000.  He also stated that the Westport-Weston Health District approval was for two and three bedroom houses only, with septic capability for 3 bedrooms.  The attorney for the Planning and Zoning Commission stated that 80% of the state-wide median income was who these units were for--but he did not offer an alternate to the applicant's attorney's housing price noted above.  The applicant is going to check his figures for submittal at continuation of this Public Hearing.  The Applicant also has to consider answers to some professional P&Z questions about nitrogen loading at "clusters" of units;  professional P&Z questions about seasonally high groundwater conditions, overlapping drawdowns from wells, etc.
PUBLIC INPUT:  sign-in sheet used--and intelligent questions from 10 members of the public (limited to 5 minutes each)...more to come January 8, 2001.  In the audience were neighbors of the property in question (shown above), some of whom had been named in a legal action along with the Conservation Commission--this application for 18 lots in an "open space development" under the Affordable Housing statute is not the same as the 8 lot subdivision presented previously at the Inland Wetlands Commission (in Weston, this is the Conservation Commission).  For more insight into "clustering" residential development, please click HERE.


FROM ELSEWHERE:  THE WESTON CASE CAME FIRST AND ONE OF THE CONSIDERATIONS IN WESTON WAS  ENVIRONMENTAL - PROTECTION OF THE BOX TURTLE...

Friday, August 23, 2002 - 3:38:57 AM MST CT POST 
AvalonBay rebuffed by DEP on box turtles
By FRANK JULIANO

MILFORD -- The state Department of Environmental Protection has sided with a city agency in a lawsuit filed against it by a Wilton developer seeking to build a 284-unit apartment complex on Wolf Harbor Road.

AvalonBay Properties Inc. is seeking to build the apartments under the state's controversial Affordable Housing Act, and would reserve 25 percent of the units for families earning less than Milford's median income, which is $62,000 for a family of four.

The company's lawyer argued that the Inland Wetlands Agency attached special significance to the presence of Eastern box turtles on the 42-acre site, but only the state DEP has jurisdiction over upland species.  The DEP, in a brief filed Thursday by assistant attorney general Richard F. Webb, found that local wetland agencies have "remedial" functions, which allow them to regulate activities outside of wetland boundaries.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the CT POST website]