Saugatuck May Face New Traffic Woes

Saugatuck residents worried about over-development have spent years battling a proposed 187-unit complex on Hiawatha Lane.

Now they’ve got a new fear. And it’s out of Westport’s hands.

There’s a plan to built a warehouse and distribution center at 10 Norden Place.

That’s in East Norwalk. It’s accessible off Route 136 (Saugatuck Avenue/Winfield Street). And it is very close to Hiawatha Lane.

The proposed Norden Place warehouse and distribution center is shown in yellow. Tractor-trailer routes are marked in green and purple. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

What does “warehouse and distribution center” mean?

According to Save Old Saugatuck, the Norden property — which once housed an electronics company, then became an office park and has now added apartments — would be the site of a 330,000-square foot facility. It would draw 198 tractor-trailers — 62 to 67 feet long — and 376 cars each day.

SOS foresees “possible 24 hour operations.”

The distribution facility would include 19 loading docks, for 3 to 5 tenants occupying 60,000 to 100,000 square feet each.

The tenant mix would be unknown until the applicant receives zoning approval, purchases the building and begins leasing space.

Artists’ rendering of a distribution center.

Save Old Saugatuck warns, “This Norden Place warehouse will affect Westport’s Exit 17 and surrounding traffic.”

Tractor-trailers can’t fit under the railroad bridge (though god knows plenty of drivers try). So some would take the I-95 exit, head north on Riverside Avenue, then take a sharp turn onto Post Road West and continue on to Strawberry Hill Avenue.

“Our Norwalk neighbors came out to support us when we had to fight (the Hiawatha proposal) before the Norwalk Zoning Commission,” SOS says.

“It is critical for those of us who live in the SOS neighborhood to now give our support to our Norwalk neighbors. Support is in the form of petitions, emails, or open-to-public virtual meeting attendance.”

Emails can be sent to skleppin@norwalkct.org.

30 responses to “Saugatuck May Face New Traffic Woes

  1. Of course it’s Amazon and I think it’s instructive for everyone here to see up close how much more truck traffic, pollution and packaging waste results from the “free” shipping mania. This is a much bigger issue than plastic shopping bags but the sustainability crowd hasn’t figured it out yet.

    • Hello Mr. Blau, to be clear, the Applicant’s attorney has assured the East Norwalk Neighborhood Association that this use will NOT be Amazon, nor will it be submitted or approved as a warehouse-to-consumer enterprise.

      • Interesting. But I’m not sure how it makes any difference in traffic if it’s “warehouse-to-business” vs. warehouse-to-consumer.” The trucks are full of consumer goods anyway because there’s very little manufacturing left around here. What is new is that, to compete with Amazon, big box stores are promoting online ordering for in-store pickup. This requires the same complex logistics as home delivery, only the drop off is at the store instead of a house. Quite likely the reason for an East Norwalk location is proximity to the Connecticut Avenue big box stores and the new mall.

  2. Diane E Yormark

    As long-time Westport residents, we vehemently oppose the Norden Place Warehouse. A facility of that size should only be accessed on major roads, not a one lane road which feeds hundreds of Westport and Norwalk residents who have only one way in and out of their neighborhoods. This is not just an inconvenience. It’s dangerous. It will slow down ambulances, emergency vehicles, rescue vehicles from flooding, police, school buses and commuters to the train station, as well as causing more noise, pollution and danger to the abundance of wild life which crosses this road often. Again, we are strongly against the Norden Place Warehouse and will vote, and protest to its demise.

    Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Yormark
    35 Bermuda Road
    Westport, CT 06880=

    • Couldn’t agree with you more! They should find a more suitable facility in a more industrialized area.

    • Hello Mrs. Yormark, have you submitted this statement to Norwalk P&Z for the Zoning Commission consideration ? Please do so, addressed to Norwalk Zoning Commission and emailed to Steve Kleppin at skleppin@norwalkct.org

  3. Is this what is meant by Transit Oriented Development?

  4. Any information on the economic impact to the area. Realize the negatives but jobs, investment, etc might be a plus to Norwalk?

    • Hello Mr. Post: Minor mitigating factor of an “estimated” 100 jobs….only investment intended for parcel by Applicant is to benefit the Applicant (ease of maneuverability for the tractor trailers, etc). They have said they will not be making environmental improvements, nor updating hvac for better buffering, nor improvements to reduce asphalt heat jungle there (though Zoning Commission encouraging them to reconsider the layout and reduce impervious surfaces).

  5. Matthew Mandell

    As an RTM member, a month back, I sent this info to Westport’s Selectmen and P&Z. As the Norden property abuts Westport the Town has the right to comment to Norwalk Zoning on the issue. Westport is researching this and will weigh in.

    Residents should also weigh in and send comments or appear at the Norwalk Zoning meeting to be held next month.

  6. Bill Strittmatter

    This seems like more of an issue for downtown than Saugatuck.

    Since the green line (primary route) on the Post Road doesn’t also appear on the map going north from Exit 17, it seems more likely that tractor trailers would be getting off at Exit 18, taking the connector to the Post Road then traveling through town.

    Of course, a handful might try to take the shortcut across the Cribari Bridge and end up on Imperial instead and the local distribution vans might wander through Saugatuck but this seems to be a Westport issue rather than Saugatuck issue.

    • Your comment is very important. Thank you.

    • The Applicant’s depiction is a bit deceiving. The Primary (preferred) route approved by the State and OSTA is Exit 17, north to US1, west to Strawberry Hill and south on Strawberry Hill. Of course, trucks will take the path of least resistance….

  7. I hope that all Westport residents will be paying attention to this and other proposals – even if it is not on their own street or in their own backyard. 100% agree with the comments Bill made here. This is a Westport issue – not just a Saugatuck issue. Thanks for posting.

  8. Chip Stephens SHS 73

    So now hopefully the rest of Westport will understand the value of Cribari and the “terrible Low RR underpass on Saugatuck Ave. They both are barriers to trucks and high commercial traffic.
    As to the other routes it behooves Westport to find ways (or WAZE) to limit traffic on US 1 and other pass through streets mentioned.
    1) Work with WAZE, Google, Garmin and SIRI to define residential limited access designated streets.
    2) Proactively work with State DOT for signage on 95 pointing out routing through exits 15 and 16.
    3) Proactively work with Westport commissions and elected officials (RTM, P and Z, BOS Traffic Authority) to designate “limited access streets” and approve signage for them.
    4) Keep vigilant on maintaining the historic and commercial traffic abating Cribari Bridge intact on Bridge Street.
    Westport does so many things well, now is the time to PROACTIVLY deal with this issue as something, Amazon or others traffic, will need to be addressed here in the near future.

    • Chip, The problem with this kind of thinking is that the lovely Cribari bridge forces trucks exiting i95 onto highly congested Riverside Avenue, backing up at US 1 where for some other half-baked “historic” reasons, left hand turn lanes were never added in either direction. The perpetual CT33/US1 tie up in turn drives traffic onto side roads west of Riverside and assures that the kids at Saugatuck and Kings Hwy schools breathe more than their share of diesel exhaust. I don’t think the low R/R bridge over Saugatuck Ave is nearly as big a problem, and besides, that’s never going to change.

    • Mr. Stephens, as a longtime East Norwalk resident, and an active member of our East Norwalk Neighborhood Association representing thousands of residents here, I must object to your suggesting that undesirable truck traffic in Westport should be “directed” to Norwalk exits, especially Exit 16, which just a matter of feet in from East Avenue is over 90% residential! Its already unfortunate that Norwalk had an undesirable DOT project to lower East Ave for trucks thrust upon us, even taking private homes by eminent domain, over the multi-year opposition by residents. You are fortunate to have elected officials there who are willing to say no to state funds when they are tied to objectionable DOT projects. To suggest that your Norwalk neighbors should bear the burden of trucks to preserve Westport is insulting and does not lend itself to the collaborative relationship East Norwalkers and Westporters have historically enjoyed.

      • Hello Diane, I’m also on the P&Z Commission with Chip. I agree that you that both towns need to work together on this. You are correct , we have worked collaboratively on many projects and I assure you we will do so now.

    • Chip – I don’t mean this in a snarky way, so I hope it doesn’t sound that way, but if Westport commissions and elected officials can designate “limited access streets” why haven’t we done that up until now, given that (as just one example) Greens Farms Road has become a primary I-95 and Post Road traffic bypass through what is an almost completely residential stretch?

      If part of the reason for opposing an expansion of the Saugatuck bridge was to avoid enhancing that traffic, it seems like town leadership should have been already exploring this approach?

      • This is the fallacy of any road blockage scheme: you simply divert traffic from one neighborhood to be someone else’s problem, and a bigger problem at that, because the same amount of traffic is being squeezed onto fewer roads. Westport has the problem of having two vastly over-capacity limited access highways going through it, one built for 1930’s traffic flows and the other for the the traffic of the 1950’s. When they tie up, which is practically every day, traffic exits onto local roads paralleling the highways. Since Mr. Stephens seeks election to Hartford where our highways are managed (if you can call it that) maybe he can opine on a strategy for reducing congestion rather than just foisting it off on someone else.

        • Yes, but… if there is an accident (or major backup) on 95, I can totally understand truck traffic detouring on Post. It is inconvenient for Westport, but I get it. Greens Farms Road being the shortcut for I-95 (*especially* for commercial traffic) is inappropriate by any reasonable standard.

          If we are being told that making local roads “non-commercial” is an option, why haven’t we been doing that?

  9. Chip is right on this one, for sure. Gotta like that in a candidate for State Legislature.

  10. David J. Loffredo

    Win the battle, lose the war. Are residential apartments still an option?

    • Are you suggesting “lesser of two evils” defeatist attitude approach is in order?

    • Is this connected at all to Felix Charney? I don’t think so. So do you want this AND residential apartments at Hiawatha? Is that your suggestion?

  11. Dick Lowenstein

    How about an Exit 16A?

    • I’m not sure how highway nomenclature is assigned, but with Exit 16 already in existence, wouldn’t it be something like, Exit 16B or 17A or 17B, ‘Westport/Norden Place’?

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