Category Archives: Environment

Doggin’ It

Westport’s annual calendar is packed with celebrations.

With the rest of America, we honor service members (Memorial Day, Veterans Day), high school students (Graduation Day) and ourselves (4th of July).

Locally, we single out artists (Westport Arts Awards), Saugatuck (Slice), even barbecue chefs (Blues, Views & BBQ).

On Sunday, June 5 we add one more group: dogs.

Westport’s 1st-ever Dog Festival is set for Winslow Park. All day long, there will be contests (Best Trick, Best Tail Wagger, Dog That Most Resembles Its Owner), demonstrations (rescue dogs, police dogs, guide dogs) and lectures.

Dogs: Start practicing now for the obstacle course!

Dogs: Start practicing now for the obstacle course!

Plus (of course!) a doggie obstacle course, food trucks and more.

Everyone canine-related can come: pets and owners, sure, but also groomers, sitters, veterinarians, vendors (dog food, dog supplies…) and non-profits.

The event is sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, in association with TAILS, a spay and neutering group. (No word yet on whether they’ll offer fixing services on the spot.) (Or on Spot, ho ho.)

Merchants and sponsors can sign up now. Click here for details; email matthew@westportwestonchamber.com, or call 203-227-9234.

I guess this confirms it: Westport is really going to the dogs.

Dog festival promo

Snow Day: Noon Scenes

As the snow continued throughout the morning, alert “06880” readers sent in photos from around town. Here are a few:

Without entitled parking -- at least, none we can see -- the Starbucks near the diner looks positively serene. (Photo/Diane Lowman)

Without entitled parking — at least, none we can see — the Starbucks near the diner looks positively serene. (Photo/Diane Lowman)

Whenever the Minute Man is decorated with a Santa cap or Easter bunny ears, a few folks complain. Today, Mother Nature decorated Westport's favorite figure. Enjoy! (Photo/Anne Hardy)

Whenever the Minute Man is decorated with a Santa cap or Easter bunny ears, a few folks complain. Today, Mother Nature decorated Westport’s favorite figure. Enjoy! (Photo/Anne Hardy)

Staples junior Eliza Goldberg snapped this shot of her dog Gracie.

Staples junior Eliza Goldberg snapped this shot of her dog Gracie.

Rindy Higgins lives on Saugatuck Shores. This morning she saw this sight. Because he's reddish-gray, black behind the ears with a white chest and long tail that stuck out straight when he scooted off, she's pretty sure he's a fox -- not a coyote.

Rindy Higgins lives on Saugatuck Shores. This morning she saw this sight. Because he’s reddish-gray, black behind the ears with a white chest and long tail that stuck out straight when he scooted off, she’s pretty sure he’s a fox — not a coyote.

A meadow view, on Meadow View. (Photo/Krystof Bondar)

The view on Meadow View. (Photo/Krystof Bondar)

Apartment Application Denied

In the 1st stop along what may be a long legal journey, the Planning and Zoning Commission last night unanimously denied an application to build a 6-story, 48-unit apartment complex on one of the busiest, most environmentally sensitive corners of Westport.

Concerns about safety and damage to wetlands adjacent to the 1.16-acre parcel at the corner of Wilton Road and Kings Highway North dominated last night’s proceedings in Town Hall.

P&Z commissioners questioned the developer — Garden Homes Management — about many aspects of the plan. They also appeared miffed that a consultant and lawyer for Garden Homes did not attend (due to illness and a conflict), and that Garden Homes submitted a raft of supporting materials at the meeting, but refused to request an extension so the P&Z could study that information.

P&Z members also refuted Garden Homes’ contentions that the commissioners’ minds were already made up — and that they were opposed to the plan because a portion of the apartments would be deemed “affordable” under state 8-30g regulations.

“We never said we’d fight 8-30g,” P&Z chair  Chip Stephens said. “We said we would fight inappropriate locations for 8-30g. Period.”

Garden Homes president Richard Freedman promised to appeal the decision.

122 Wilton Road -- site of the proposed 6-story, 48-unit apartment building -- sits at the corner of Kings Highway North. The property abuts the Taylortown Salt Marsh.

122 Wilton Road — site of the proposed 6-story, 48-unit apartment building — sits at the corner of Kings Highway North. The property abuts the Taylortown Salt Marsh.

The Best Small House In America

In one corner, we have a 6-story, 48-unit apartment complex proposed for a 1.16-acre parcel of land on the corner of Wilton Road and Kings Highway North.

Right next to it, we have an 1,800-square foot home, on 1.8 acres. In 1988, it won a House Beautiful contest for the “Best Small House in America.”

That home — being cited by opponents of the planned apartments as much more in keeping with the streetscape, scale and marshland environment of the heavily trafficked area — was featured in a March 13, 1988 New York Times story.

Front view of "The Best Small House in America," on Wilton Road near the corner of Kings Highway North.

Front view of “The Best Small House in America,” on Wilton Road near the corner of Kings Highway North…

The house is 42 feet at its highest point. There’s a 30-foot high cathedral, plus 3 bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, office, 3 full baths, 2 half-baths, sauna, exercise room and family room, Not too shabby — or small, really.

Architect Bruce Beinfield’s “whimsical” design, blended modern and traditional architecture. The view from the rear looks across the Taylortown salt marsh and Saugatuck River, to downtown Westport.

...and the rear view, looking across the Taylortown Salt Marsh.

…and the rear view, from the Taylortown Salt Marsh.

The Times said the land — purchased in April 1987 for $213,000 — passed through a number of owners over the years. During construction, workers found evidence of a house from a half century ago.

Asked why no one had developed the site since then, builder James A. Olson Sr. said, “Apparently people didn’t realize the potential of the property.”

The owners of the proposed 48 apartment complex next door sure do.

Bonus fun fact: The home was listed originally for $990,000. A William Pitt broker said, “I guess some people felt that because it’s small, it would sell for about $200,000.”

Sapersteins Battle Mankind’s Scourge

It’s been a mild winter so far. (We’ve already forgotten about that 1-day blizzard.)

That’s good news to everyone. Except maybe Larry Saperstein.

Dr. Lawrence Saperstein

Dr. Lawrence Saperstein

The Westport resident — a radiologist on the faculty of the Yale School of Medicine — wanted to protect his own immune system. For years, he suffered from debilitating winter colds.

Saperstein knew the benefits of zinc and vitamin C. But he wanted more.

He learned about liposomal formulations. Ingredients are enclosed in hollow spheres (liposomes) that enter the bloodstream more easily than conventional water-soluble supplements. In addition, many more active ingredients are absorbed by the body.

Saperstein added an all-natural patented black pepper fruit extract. It’s believed to enhance absorption even further, and give an energy boost.

Saperstein has 3 school-aged kids. He works in a hospital. Since taking Zyta-C, he has not had a cold in 4 years.

zyta-cThere are plenty of nutritional supplements. Most taste icky. Saperstein and his wife Amy — a marketer — convened a group of Westport preschool moms to test different flavors. They settled on citrus.

The Sapersteins named their company High Point Laboratories, for the road they live on. From her home, Amy is spreading the word about their product.

She’s starting by giving out Zyta-C at health-conscious spots around town. Westport Tennis Club and Joyride have already signed on.

Amy wants to include “06880” readers. For a free box (a 1-week supply sells for $14), go to http://www.zyta-c.com, then enter the code “zytafree06880” at checkout.

Let’s hope the mild winter continues. But whatever the weather, let’s also hope that Larry and Amy Saperstein continue to prevent common colds.

 

Nothin’ But…

In 2008, Jerri Graham was not happy with snack bars. The ones on the market lacked the taste, texture and ingredients she wanted to eat — or feed her family.

So the Westport woman created her own. Her “Nothin’ But” bars were a hit, at local cafes, farmers’ markets and gyms. Yet as a solo entrepreneur, she could not take advantage of their surging popularity.

Around that time, Steve Laitmon tried a bar at Doc’s — the old Saugatuck coffee shop. Impressed he stepped into the parking lot, found Graham’s number and called her.

An attorney who also owns the Calendar Group — a Westport-based staffing firm for high net worth individuals and families — Laitmon asked where Nothin’ But was sold besides Doc’s. She was in the farmers’ market, a couple of gyms and cafes, and Arogya.

Jerri Graham and Steve Laitmon.

Jerri Graham and Steve Laitmon.

Laitmon went door-to-door — literally — expanding the market. His 1st target: the Hamptons. He was successful — and so were Graham’s bars.

A few years later, Nothin’ But is now sold in a couple of thousand outlets. Costco and Whole Foods carry them, in 3 regions each. Hudson News sells them nationally. In March, they’ll be at 7/Eleven.

Last year, the company grew by 300%. Sales are in the low 7 figures.

Laitmon did it by old-fashioned pavement pounding. He also brought in a vice president of sales, a sales assistant and an operations guy. That’s it, though. Nothin’ But is nothin’ but them.

Success comes from the product itself, Laitmon says. “We’re taste-driven, with clean ingredients. Nothing artificial. No garbage.”

Right now there are 4 granola bar flavors, and 4 types of cookies. The Nothin’ But brand has plenty of potential, Laitmon notes. But they’re solidifying their current offerings, before expanding.

Nothin' But

Speaking of expansion: Nothin’ But’s offices just moved from Westport to Stratford. The company needed a loading dock — and that’s hard to find here.

Doc’s — where Laitmon made that 1st phone call to Graham — is no longer around. But Nothin’ But bars are.

Thanks to that Westport connection, they’re more popular than ever. And all over the country.

Boom!

Several Westporters felt the ground shake earlier today.

No, it was not an earthquake. Nor was it Chris Christie working out on a treadmill.

Although it does involve New Jersey.

According to NBC New York, residents from the Jersey Shore to the Connecticut coast reported rattles and rumbles.

The shaking moved from southern New Jersey up the coastline, shortly before 2 p.m. It spread to Staten Island, Long Island, then all the way to southeastern Connecticut.

The shaking is probably the result of a sonic boom, said Julie Dutton of the United State Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center. The boom could come from a military aircraft breaking the sound barrier. McGuire Air Force Base is located in southern Jersey.

“We don’t believe it’s an earthquake, based upon what we see in the wave forms,” she explained. “It’s probably sonic boom, but we can’t prove that.”

The most calls to authorities came from Hamilton Township, Toms River and Ocean County, New Jersey.

EarthquakeTrack.com says there have been no earthquakes in Connecticut in the past month.

Meanwhile, in other what-the-hell-is-going-on-here news, that black helicopter you’ve been seeing hovering over transmission lines is legit.

According to Eversource, the copter uses high-res cameras to check out problems like lightning strikes or corrosion.

At least, that’s what we’re told.

(Hat tip: Bart Shuldman)

 

The Clam Man

Like many Westporters who love Compo Beach, Irene Penny is fascinated by a man she sees often, clamming by the shore.

Irene is a talented photographer. The other day she asked if she could take some shots. He said people ask that a lot.

They got to talking. Irene learned his name is John.

Clam Man 3 - Irene Penny

He was digging for clams for a few retired friends. He does it for exercise, so he doesn’t have to go to the gym. He used to pour concrete foundations.

Clam Man - Irene Penny

John said nobody else goes out there anymore. They just buy their cherrystone clams from the grocery store.

(Photos/Irene Penny)

(Photos/Irene Penny)

Seagull Over The Saugatuck

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Downtown Salt Marsh Threatened By Development

Last Sunday’s photo challenge showed a sign for “Taylortown Salt Marsh.” Though the 3.2- acre preserve sits in the heart of Westport — the Saugatuck River, off Wilton Road and Kings Highway North, opposite the “Fort Apache” medical complex — it’s unknown to many Westporters.

That will change soon.

Tomorrow night (Thursday, January 21, 7 p.m., Town Hall), the Planning and Zoning Commission discusses a proposal for a 45,796-square foot, 5-story, 48-unit apartment building planned for 122 Wilton Road.

122 Wilton Road -- site of the proposed 6-story, 48-unit apartment building -- sits at the corner of Kings Highway North. The property abuts the Taylortown Salt Marsh.

122 Wilton Road — site of the proposed 6-story, 48-unit apartment building — sits at the corner of Kings Highway North. The property abuts the Taylortown Salt Marsh.

The developer — Garden Homes Management — is using Connecticut’s Affordable Housing Statute. Known as “8-30G,” it allows developers to add “affordable units” that override local zoning regulations, in towns where less than 10 percent of the housing stock is considered affordable.

In this case, 30 percent of the units — numbering 15 — would be “affordable,” as defined by state housing law.

Th3 8-30G regulation was part of a 2014 plan to build 200 apartments on the site of the Westport Inn. First Selectman Jim Marpe and P&Z chair Chip Stephens instead found a local buyer who understood the importance of maintaining the lower-impact inn on that small-footprint, already-crowded stretch of the Post Road.

The Aspetuck Land Trust — which owns the Taylortown tract, and spent the last 3 years saving the marsh from invasive weeds — is not pleased.

An email from the organization warns of negative environmental impacts to the marsh and river, as well as destruction of views of the estuary.

Garden Homes believes that development of the site will not impact the wetlands.

One view of the Taylortown Salt Marsh...

One view of the Taylortown Salt Marsh…

Interestingly, the Aspetuck Land Trust itself is a direct result of a struggle to save the salt marsh from being filled and developed in the 1960s.

Back then, there was no legal protection of tidal marshes. Inland wetlands were thought of as boggy areas to be filled for level building lots, the Trust says.

When Barlow  Cutler-Wotton learned of plans to build a geriatric hospital on the Wilton Road/Kings Highway North corner, she contacted attorney Leonard Schine. He based his case on traffic congestion. The P&Z denied the application.

...and another.

…and another.

Cutler-Wotton went on to form the Aspetuck Land Trust, for Westport and Weston. The Trust buys, or receives as gifts, property that it then preserves in natural states as open space. The organization acquired Taylortown Salt Marsh in 1987.

The Trust will have to work hard now to keep it. 830G is a powerful state statute. It overrides most local rules and regulations — except those related to the environment or safety.

Let Westport’s newest battle begin.

(Tomorrow’s Planning and Zoning Commission evening meeting is open to the public. So is a P&Z field trip tomorrow morning to examine the property. It begins at 8:15 a.m., at 122 Wilton Road.)