Judge Rules Against Town In Hiawatha Sewer Case

Development of multi-family housing in Saugatuck moved one step closer to reality yesterday.

Superior Court Judge Kenneth Schluger announced his ruling: The town should grant an application to extend the town sewer, to serve a proposed development on Hiawatha Lane.

Two years ago, Summit Development proposed building 155 rental units on 5.34 acres. Hiawatha Lane is currently a narrow road accessible by West Ferry Lane off Saugatuck Avenue, between I-95 exit 17 and the railroad station parking lot.

Hiawatha Lane includes many rental properties — and some of the lowest housing prices in Westport. The land was originally developed to house immigrant workers who built the railroad.

Housing would include 85 market-rate units, and 70 “affordable” units, as defined by Connecticut’s 8-30 g regulation.

A rendering of the proposed Hiawatha Lane development.

The court ruled that the extension request should be granted, subject to a condition that a construction permit not be issued until repair work to the force main under the Saugatuck River, and Pump Station #2, was complete. The Public Works Department anticipates construction will be done by late summer.

The Westport Board of Selectmen — acting in their capacity as the Westport Pollution Control Authority — had denied one request for the sewer extension because repair work had not yet begun, and a second request because construction was not yet finished.

The court said that the WPCA could in fact grant conditional approval, provided no work begins until the repair work is done.

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.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe said, “I am disappointed by the decision. But even if the court had ruled in the town’s favor, the WPCA would have no discretion to deny Summit’s application after the improvements and repairs … were complete and certified. Ultimately, the court’s decision will have very little practical impact on the proposed project’s timetable.”

18 responses to “Judge Rules Against Town In Hiawatha Sewer Case

  1. Nancy Wilson

    Merde. New development or not, sewers are a good thing Westport.

  2. David J. Loffredo

    Any you thought Saugatuck had traffic issues before….Not to mention another 100+ commuters at the train station, and untold numbers of kids at Kings Highway. Should probably do a rendering of KHS with an additional two stories for you next April Fools issue.

    Do you know if they’ll be able to connect the Avalon East Norwalk, thru this new development, and then onto the same congested streets? That would be horrific.

  3. The original plan was coordinated with the Westport Housing Authority. The idea was to create smaller affordable units geared specifically to seniors. That would have been a win win for the community, without affecting the schools. It would have also gotten us closer to a moratorium to prevent additional multi family housing.

    • Carolanne Curry

      Avi Kaner,
      Who are you kidding and why are you insulting the historic and active intelligence of the Saugatuck community. The plan you allude to was bigger than previously.And you know as well as SOS knows that Felix Charney had every intention of making the 8-30g units “lesser than” in the quality than the market rate units.
      And you are well aware of how he has tried to ghettoize Hiawatha Lane Extension with police raids at Charney rented houses, toxic and rampant household mold in another two of the five houses owned by Charney…not ten as he claims. And Avi Kaner, did you know Felix Charney purchased the Hiawatha Lane Extension part of the road so he could fill it with potholes. Come visit.
      Avi Kaner, Why are you so committed to leveraging your previous role in Westport’s governance that you would rather see the profiteering of Felix Carney/Summit Saugatuck bent on destroying homes and history.
      Avi Kaner,
      You have a developed sense of history. That sense should have enabled you to choose on a moral basis the perpetuation of one of the five true westport affordable housing communities. Found only in Zoned B.
      Why have you totally ignored those who call Old Saugatuck their home.
      The level of insensitivity on display by your remarks is hard to believe

      • Wow – bullying. I will not answer you.

        • Tyler Smith

          Nothing about her post is bullying. If you can’t take the heat Avi, get out of the kitchen. The writing is on the wall with this one.

          • Tyler – I can take the heat. I was in elected office for the past 12 years – board of finance chairman and second Selectman. The issue here is that a developer was going to build an 830g affordable housing complex on Hiawatha near exit 17. He can do so bypassing our zoning regulations because of state mandate. We tried to steer him in the direction of senior affordable housing. Now with the judge’s ruling (that I oppose) we have lost leverage with the developer as he can eventually build something much larger and not geared toward seniors.

    • Michael Calise

      Avi,
      You were the architect of this debacle and you should be ashamed of yourself as it goes against all concepts of sensible zoning and is totally void of the zoning protections a government official owes his constituency. A total and shameful sellout!

      • Michael – shame on you. Are you kidding me? I was one of the architects for affordable senior housing on Barons South, which you also objected to. I will not tolerate your tone and public attack. As an aside, when the developer came back with a non-senior affordable housing plan on Hiawatha, I voted against it as a Selectman.

        • Michael Calise

          Avi,
          I supported the preservation of open space on Baron’s South as I am supporting here the residential B Zone which is an important zone for many middle income working families whose welfare and success is an important component of Westport’s population base. They are as much your friends and neighbors as anyone else and at the time you attempted to put the deal together with the Housing Authority and Summit Development they were your constituents. Your ideas and pursuits are laudable but you need to realize that there are far more sensible places to locate them in Westport. When those locations are realized I will stand shoulder to shoulder with you supporting them as most Westporters will. There is simply no need to destroy important aspects of our zoning when less intrusive options are available. I am sorry if I offended you I was simply trying to impress on you that breaking an egg to create an omelet in not necessarily a correct zoning solution

  4. This, and others, are coming about because the town of Westport leadership did not take action for affordable housing 15 years ago when they should have and could have.The 8-30g law was specifically designed to get towns’ leadership to act. Other towns’ did. Westport’s did not, despite decades of clear warnings, and we are now in a no-win situation. – Chris Woods

  5. Bart Shuldman

    8-30g will attack Westport until the residents stand up and use their vote to get it changed. You can blame whoever you want, but this issue is a state mandated issue and the solution can only be based and started in Hartford.

    So blame whoever you want. When you want to use your voice and vote, then you can solve this issue. Not until then will 8-30g and the developers go away.

    Rep Steinberg wants Westport to build
    More housing and quicker. So here it comes. Here it comes.

    • Did not have to turn this in to a political discussion. The 8-30 is an upstate initiative.
      It needs to be addressed in the State Legislature across all parties and needs local (Fairfield County) input.
      Get out there, friends – let your voice be heard on this issue!!

  6. Bart Shuldman

    Pat-if not a political solution then please explain how we end the damage done by 8-30g in westport?