Sewer Wars Set Stage for Saugatuck Battle

A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single sewer application.

Last night marked the first step on a lengthy path toward approval or denial of a proposed 186-unit housing development that could irrevocably alter the look, feel and life of the entire Saugatuck neighborhood.

The battle began with a Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing on Summit Saugatuck’s proposal to extend the sewer line from Davenport Avenue 1600 feet west, to a 5.3-acre parcel on Hiawatha Lane Extension. That’s where the developers — led by Westporter Felix Charney, a former P&Z member — hope to build their project.

The P&Z will send a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen — acting as the Water Pollution Control Authority — to either approve or reject the extension.

Hiawatha Lane is a narrow street, filled with homes that are modest by Westport standards. It's accessible only via West Ferry Lane off Saugatuck Avenue, next to the I-95 eastbound entrance/exit ramp.

Hiawatha Lane is a narrow street, filled with homes that are modest by Westport standards. It’s accessible only via West Ferry Lane off Saugatuck Avenue, next to the I-95 eastbound entrance/exit ramp. (Photo/Google Street View)

Opposition to the sewer extension was vehement.

Gloria Gouveia of Land Use Consultants and area resident Carolanne Curry — who founded Save Old Saugatuck to fight the development — delivered a 1-2 punch. They discussed defects in Summit’s application, inaccuracies in its presentation, and the egregious effects on the portion of town west of the Saugatuck River if the extension is approved.

The 3-hour hearing also included testimony from Department of Public Works director Steve Edwards, and representatives of Westport’s engineering consultants Weston & Simpson. They noted that the impact of the proposal would usurp all future development west of the river, the planned sewer connection of hundreds of homes — and overburden Pump Station #2, which directs all sewage from the west side of town to the treatment plant.

The P&Z took no action in a work session following public input. But members concurred on a sense of the meeting resolution to issue a negative finding to the selectmen.

4 responses to “Sewer Wars Set Stage for Saugatuck Battle

  1. Michael Calise

    I am always surprised by efforts to expand the sewer system under the guise of protecting the enviornment when in fact sewers cause great enviornmental damge by depleting our aquifers by not returning water to its original source for re-use as the process works in on-site systems. The new Y is an example of high volumes of water usage which are returned to our acquifers by way of an on-site system. We are members of a community which attempts to re-cycle as much as possible but we do not recycle our most important asset – WATER!

  2. Bettina Gangi

    There are almost always hidden agendas behind proposed changes in the Westport community…this one is not well hidden, and I trust those who make decisions relative to changing the town are well aware of the information Mike Calise shared. Too many proposed changes and actual changes have to do with what can best be called “greed”. It’s very sad that proposals for true betterment and preservation of what’s good get stalled or ignored…(One case in point being affordable senior housing on the Baron’s property)

  3. Choosing the aquifer/septic system near rivers and sea seems odd, as they must leach (especially during storms). How does the “on-site system” work?

    Perhaps Saugatuck would do better with an aqueduct (!)

  4. This should really be a slam dunk decision by P&Z. Michael Calise is correct in his assessment and thanks to Carolanne and Gloria for all there hardwork and dedication ensuring this Hiawatha neighborhood remains as is!