Hiawatha Lane Sewer Denied; Scenic Highway Approved

Two big decisions — both of which could impact the future of Saugatuck — were made yesterday.

The Planning & Zoning Commission denied the request for a sewer line from Davenport Avenue to Hiawatha Lane. The proposal was crucial to approval of a larger project: the construction of 155 rental units on Hiawatha Lane Extension.

The vote was 4-0, with 1 abstention 5-0. The reason, P&Z commissioners said, was that other Westport sewers — including a pump that runs underneath the Saugatuck River — cannot handle the increased flow.

This was the 5th request from developer Felix Charney to build multi-family housing in the already dense area off Saugatuck Avenue. Right now, many of the units there command some of the lowest resale and rental prices in Westport.

A rendering of the proposed Hiawatha Lane development.

A rendering of the proposed Hiawatha Lane development.

Earlier in the day, the Westport Preservation Alliance announced that the state Department of Transportation has agreed to designate part of Route 136 — specifically Compo Road South, Bridge Street and the William F. Cribari (aka Bridge Street) swing bridge — a “state scenic highway.”

The WPA says the designation “adds an additional level of protection for this important area of our town. Any proposed changes to the bridge must be reviewed by the State Scenic Highway Advisory Committee. Effectively, this allows a different set of state officials, who may be more sympathetic to scenic beauty and preservation, to weigh in on the DOT’s plans.”

The William Cribari (aka Bridge Street) Bridge.

The William Cribari (aka Bridge Street) Bridge.

Plans for multi-family housing on Hiawatha Lane, and for major changes to the bridge, are not yet dead.

But neither are they as healthy as they were yesterday.

15 responses to “Hiawatha Lane Sewer Denied; Scenic Highway Approved

  1. Yahooooooo !!!!!!!!

  2. PHEW!! Great news!!

  3. John Patterson

    Praise God and thanks to the leadership of our town. Curious – why would someone abstain? Was there a conflict of interest?

  4. Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

    Encouraging news. The town leaders were thorough in their research and presentations and represented everyone . Many thanks to everyone who worked so hard.

  5. Location of new Le Penguin restaurant?

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  6. Bart Shuldman

    Westport–CONGRATS!!!!

  7. Chip Stephens - Staples 73

    The final vote on the Denial of this 8-24 was 5-0
    not 4-0-1 , that vote was to close the issue for discussion

  8. Cathy Walsh Chair P&Z Commission

    Dan, Chip is correct , the final vote was 5-0, could you correct it in the heart of the story? Thanks.

  9. Ann Marie Flynn

    Bart”…lets all remember your great words when it becomes election time…and get our winners reelected.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Anne Marie–thanks for your reply to my post. The election coming in November will be one of the most important in years. CT is in a financial crisis and we must change the leadership in Hartford. Kathy Walsh is running for state rep and she has to win, or Westporters cannot blame anyone else but themselves. Steinberg voted for the approval of 2 Implementers (the way CT budgets get approved and implemented) which raised state income taxes twice and drove GE out of CT (the unitary tax and tax on computer service firms was the last straw). Steinberg has supported the democratic leaders in CT and cannot be trusted to represent our interests. If the ‘one party’ remains in power in Ct then income taxes will rise, property taxes will have to go up and 8-30g will continue. The following is how bad the fiscal crisis has become (and by the way, have you heard about the mileage tax that will be tested in CT shortly? Tax your mileage when driving to the store, to the doctor to schools or the senior center. Steinberg sits on the transportation committee).

      Anne Marie–this is no joke–CT is facing dire times. Connecticut’s 2015-2016 fiscal budget came to an end last and the news was ugly once again. In just one month, Connecticut’s revenue fell by another $82.7 million (from May to June) driven by $100 million loss in state personal income tax. In addition, state revenue from sales and use tax, corporate tax and other taxes fell by an additional $40 million. The only item that was positive regarding State of Connecticut budget revenue was receipt of a federal grant for $50 million in June.

      As the fiscal budget ended, Connecticut’s budget deficit is now projected at over $320 million. After two massive tax increases since 2011 enacted by the Governor (approved by Steinberg) and the democratic legislators through two Budget Implementers, the red ink continues to flow. As I have previously written, Connecticut is a balanced budget state and the Governor will raid the Rainy Day Fund to cover the deficit. This is very concerning as once the Governor raids the Rainy Day Fund, it will leave Connecticut will approximately $90 million remaining in the fund. This reserve leaves the state with a cushion of less than 2 days of state annual operating costs. The financial death spiral in Connecticut continues.

      The Governor along with the democratic leadership have blamed the ongoing state income tax shortfall on the lower income earned from dividends and capital gains. This is no longer true. Part of the $100 million shortfall in the state income tax was from a decline in state withholding taxes from paychecks. This decrease points to real issues regarding job growth in the state, and also people moving out of the state to avoid higher taxes including one of our country’s highest death taxes. This should not be a surprise to the Governor as the state lost 1,400 jobs in May. No longer can the Governor, Steinberg and the democratic leadership in Hartford blame the fiscal crisis on Wall Street.

      Connecticut’s serious budget issues have been noted in a recent report by Moody’s, a major Wall Street credit agency. From an article I read, Moody’s wrote “With weak tax collections likely to carry over into fiscal 2017 (July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017), the state has limited flexibility to maintain a balance budget.” This is clearly true as the Connecticut’s fiscal 2017 budget is projected to run close to a $1 Billion deficit. With the ongoing decline in state income taxes, the new budget deficit for the coming fiscal year will likely be much larger. Making matters worse, the Governor with the support of the democratic legislators in Connecticut tried to mitigate the upcoming deficit with job cuts and certain one-time costs savings without dealing with the real structural issues with the states long term liabilities. Unfortunately, the Governor has not produced the number of job cuts needed to meet his projected cost reductions and there is still almost $200-$300 million more in ‘go-get’ cost savings yet to be identified. Again, the financial death spiral in Connecticut continues.

      Without a real plan to grow the economy in Connecticut, without a real plan to improve job growth in Connecticut, without a real plan to deal with the states increasing long term liabilities, and without a real plan to stop retirees and others from leaving the state due to high death taxes, Connecticut faces a very bleak outlook. From the work I have done analyzing Connecticut’s budget which includes the rising costs for the state’s long term liabilities, I only see red ink flowing for years.

      Anne Marie, people moved to Connecticut to get away from taxes, and now people are leaving Connecticut to get away from taxes. Unfortunately, with the ongoing financial crisis in Connecticut, the worst is yet to come.

      These are the facts–and I will be more than happy to meet anyone in Westport for coffee and talk about CT’s fiscal crisis. I love CT and I truly want to see CT come out of this horrible situation.

  10. Werner Liepolt

    Great news for residential Westport on both banks of the Saugatuck. Thanks and kudos to the elected and appointed officials who get it.