Category Archives: Environment

Regency Apologizes; Vows To Do Better

Last night, Regency Centers went before the Westport Planning & Zoning Commission, seeking permission for work on the facade and parking lot at Fresh Market — the shopping plaza they own.

“06880” readers remember that last weekend, prior to to approval, Regency had an osprey nest on their property removed. An uproar ensued, before the owners placed the platform back on its pole.

Alert “06880” reader Carolyn Doan was at Town Hall last night. She reports that Jack deVilliers, Regency Vice President, began with an apology. He thanked Westporters — and “06880” — for their concern, and noted that Regency appreciates having its regional office here in Westport. He said that the company “got it wrong” with respect to their removal of the nest, adding that the company did consult with the Audubon Society and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection prior to its actions.

The ospreys are back in their nest, after Regency replaced the platform they removed last weekend. (Photo/Carolyn McPhee)

DeVilliers acknowledged that Regency’s apologies might not be enough for some Westporters.

He promised the company would do better in the future, then presented plans for the property that included a rain garden (water holding pond) and restaurant.

Several speakers talked about parking issues, asked about the restaurant — and expressed concern about Regency going forward, with regard to its properties and the ospreys.

No vote was taken. Regency will return April 25, to address issues like fencing and the neighbors.

But the P&Z did approve the new Westport Weston YMCA building expansion and Camp Mahackeno project. It includes a water slide, splash pad, new heated pool and archery range.

Home Again

After a rough weekend, our ospreys are back loving life.

And we love them.

(Photos/Carolyn McPhee)

Back Home Again, Ospreys Rebuild

Westporters rejoiced — and relaxed — this morning, as Westport’s 2 favorite ospreys returned to their home.

Overnight, Regency Centers — owner of the Fresh Market and Terrain properties — reconstructed the platform that, less than 48 hours earlier, they had removed.

But there was no rest for the ospreys. As soon as they could, they began rebuilding their nest.

Carolyn Doan captured these mesmerizing photos of the magnificent birds at work.

(Photos/Carolyn Doan)

Osprey Nest Is Back!

After an anguished weekend, Westport’s favorite ospreys once again have a home.

True to its word, Regency Centers — the owners of the Fresh Market shopping plaza, who directed the removal of the nest on Saturday — worked through the night to replace it.

Several “06880” readers gleefully — even giddily — reported the good news this morning.

Richard Webb got a great photo.

(Photo/Richard Webb)

He writes: “I saw them fishing in the Saugatuck River this morning.  I also saw them flying about. They are working hard!”

Also working hard: hundreds of Westporters, all weekend long, to help make this happen. The ospreys thank you.

Osprey Odyssey: Regency Responds

Jack deVilliers — Regency Centers vice president — just responded on 06880+ to the controversy raging after yesterday’s osprey nest removal. Regency owns the Fresh Market shopping center where the event took place. He writes:

To our neighbors,

As many of you are aware there was a removal of a nesting platform at The Village Center that served as a breeding ground and home for two ospreys. Before any work was done on this we consulted a variety of environmental and wildlife sources to find the best way to avoid having our upcoming construction disturb a nesting environment. We were informed that if the nest was not present before the breeding season then the ospreys would be able to make a new nest somewhere else. There never was any removal of existing eggs or birds at any point.

For those who might be unaware, the upcoming construction work is intended to redo the facade, upgrade the parking, a substantial tree installation, sustainable LED lighting, and a rain garden. However, although our intentions were to mitigate any disturbance to our avian neighbors, we may have missed the mark with seeing the whole picture.

Thanks in part to the community feedback that we have received, we have decided to reinstall the platform as soon as possible. Not only that, but we will modify our construction schedule for the breeding season, and will be providing a buffer area that cannot be disturbed until we can determine the fledglings have safely vacated the area. At which point, we will resume our efforts without any negative effect to the ospreys.

It is extremely important to us that we are good and responsible neighbors, and that includes our feathered friends as well as our human ones. We can’t thank everyone enough for their concern and interest on the topic, and a special thank you to those who reached out to us.

Jack deVilliers – Vice President at Regency Centers
203-635-5562

Osprey on a pole, this afternoon. (Photo/Richard Hyman)

Ospreys and Regency Centers: VERY Interesting Sunday Afternoon Report

It appears now that Regency Centers — the owner of both the Fresh Terrain shopping plaza and Terrain — is the bad actor in yesterday’s removal of an osprey nest on a pole between the two properties.

Regency’s management company — or a sub-contractor — took down the nest. When confronted by Terrain employees, they claimed to be Audubon Society workers. They also did not have a permit from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. A permit is mandated by the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918.

But here’s where the story gets really interesting.

This Thursday, April 4 (7 p.m., Town Hall), Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission has a regularly scheduled meeting.

Agenda item #3 is a request by Regency Centers for “Westport Village Center” — aka the Fresh Market plaza — for “a Site Plan approval for proposed exterior alteration to the building façade and modifications to the parking lot for property located in RBD and Residence A zones, PID# E09068000.”

In other words: The illegal osprey nest removal in preparation for parking lot work was done prior to P&Z approval.

Regency Centers — owner of the Fresh Market plaza — will ask the P&Z on Thursday for permission to make changes to the facade and parking lot.

And here’s where the story gets even more interesting.

Thursday’s meeting is a public hearing. Westporters are welcome to attend — and speak.

(You can also make your feelings known by email before the meeting: pandz@westportct.gov.)

Regency is well known to Westport — and the P&Z. When Regency bought the Fresh Market plaza, they promised to plant trees in front, and install a sidewalk. That has not yet been done.

Regency also owns Compo Acres Shopping Center (anchored by Trader Joe’s). Westporters — particularly those living behind the back parking lot — have not forgotten the work-first-ask-questions-later job done on the retaining wall there.

A similar incident occurred in the back of yet another property owned by Regency: the shopping center across the street from Fresh Market.

Thursday’s P&Z meeting should be very interesting indeed.

—————————————

Meanwhile, back to the ospreys. Someone involved in the utility industry — who asked for anonymity based on the nature of his work — examined this morning’s photo of the removal of the nest. He writes:

The photo taken by the high school freshman of the bucket truck yesterday tells this old utility veteran several things.

This is a “streetlight” pole, set exclusively for mounting the 2 streetlights clearly shown in the photo, whose lights provide security lighting for Fresh Market’s parking lot.

12-year-old James Doan took this photo today, of an osprey at its old nest pole. His mother Carolyn says, “The male is flying around the female with sticks and possibly food. The cry is tough to hear.”

All streetlights are supplied by secondary wires, energized 100% of the time. So this pole has active power supplied to it — a safety hazard for anyone choosing to work on this pole top.

The utility always works with safety most paramount. If this contractor wanted to take this action they should have contacted the utility well in advance to get approval.

Since the utility erected the platform originally. I assume they would never have granted approval for this action. They also would never allow this contractor to work on their pole without authorization, and proof that the contractor is “qualified” to work on energized equipment.

Looks pretty clear that regardless of what DEEP or Audubon said to this contractor, they were also violating various rules and regulations of the utility and perhaps should be treated accordingly. License revocation? Fines? Local Westport electrical inspector might also be someone to get involved with this in that regard.

Ospreys Search For New Home

This morning, Westporters watched with sadness as an osprey searched for a new home.

Joe Sequenzia and his wife Kelly snapped these photos of the magnificent bird, at the Fresh Market plaza.

(Photos/Kelly Coveny-Sequenzia)

Lisa Girden took the image below, of the osprey’s old nest. She writes: “So sad. Just sitting there waiting with one twig 😢”

(Photo/Lisa Girden)

Osprey Nest: Sunday Morning Report

In the wake of yesterday’s removal of the osprey nest between Terrain and Fresh Market, several readers wondered if there was a photo of the actual act.

Staples High School freshman Jaden Mueller took this shot. His parents, Adrian Merri, sent it to “06880.” They said it had no business name on the side.

(Photo/Jaden Mueller)

Meanwhile, “06880” reader (and Connecticut Audubon Society board member) Charlie Stebbins directed me to Miley Bull, Connecticut Audubon Society’s senior director of science and conservation.

I called Miley this morning. He said that on Friday afternoon, the contractor for property owner Terrain — he’s not sure of the contractor’s name — called. He said they’d be taking down the nest the next day, as part of a parking lot project. The contractor said they wanted to remove the nest before the ospreys laid eggs, because then it would be an “active” nest. If the ospreys abandoned the nest then, the contractor might be liable under Connecticut law, the contractor knew.

Miley told the contractor that the adults were already back. He told me, “I have no control over private property.” But he called Brian Hess, wildlife biologist for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Miley said he told Brian, “I’m not sure of the best thing to do. I told the contractor that there’s a lot of activity there already. The birds might be habituated to noise, and not affected by construction.” He told me there are ospreys living on poles near stadiums, with all that activity.

Miley said, “Brian called the contractor. I don’t know what he told them.”

Ospreys in 2016. (Photo/Jo Ann Davidson)

However, Miley said, “When the workers were there yesterday, and people got all upset, the workers ducked and hid. They said ‘the Audubon Society said it was okay.’ That’s bullshit. I don’t have control over that.”

I told Miley that — according to several “06880” readers — the ospreys are apparently covered not only by state statute, but the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. And that the law refers not just to nests with eggs or chicks in it, but to any “active” nest. With birds living in it, readers say, this was an active nest.

Miley said of the state DEEP, “They know the statutes and laws.”

That’s the latest information.

Reader Charlie Stebbins also noted last night:

The key issue now is, where do the osprey alight and build a new nest? Before Terrain, they built on a utility pole that caught fire and killed the chicks. Hence the new pole at Terrain.

With that pole now removed, Audubon is using its nest monitors (aka Tina Green and other expert Westport birders) to track where the osprey relocate. They will pick a new local site in the next week or two. When they do, we will know if it’s safe or not…and act accordingly.

Osprey Nest: The Latest Update

This afternoon’s “0688o” story on the removal of the osprey nest between Fresh Market and Terrain struck a nerve. We’ve already received over 50 comments. They range from distressed and sad to furious and vindictive.

While there are no clear answers yet as to who removed the nest, it is clear that:

  • The Audubon Society yesterday received a call asking about removing the nest. They emphatically said no, for many reasons.
  • This morning, someone claiming to be from the Audubon Society told Terrain they were removing the nest because of upcoming construction — and then did so. Terrain apparently was duped.
  • Fresh Market had nothing to do with the removal either. Store personnel are very upset about what happened.
  • The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is involved. So are the Westport police.

The comments on the previous story are compelling reading. Click here to see them all. Listed below are some highlights, including emails sent directly to me:

Tina Green: I just heard from Patrick Comins, executive director of the Connecticut Audubon Society, And they had nothing to do with the removal of the nest. The landlords should not have removed the nest and platform!

Christine Cummings: I am an assistant manager at The Fresh Market and I want to assure you, we had nothing to do with the removal of the Osprey nest. We are as distressed. We have called the landlord and are trying to get an answer.

One osprey flying over the removed nest this morning. (Photo from video by Sam Levenson)

Debbie Zager: This was done illegally – I went to walk around to see if Nest had been moved and found Betsy, a Wildlife Rehab person who had called in the DEP. The DEP is investigating – we looked everywhere and cannot find the platform. The Ospre’s are stressed and she is very concerned that this will be completely deleterious to the pair. Nobody had permission to move the nest and she said it was the worst time of year to even consider doing so. Calls to landlord went unanswered. Is there any video footage of the people who moved it on someone’s security camera? This is illegal – birds are protected by Federal Government. Contact Christine Peyreigne : christinescrittersinc@gmail.com a Wildlife Rehabilitator with info or to Report if you see an Osprey so distressed and tired that they are in the ground.

Carolyn Doan: I was so upset reading about the Osprey that I called the Audubon Society and this is their exact response:

“Thank you for reaching out to ct Audubon. We did not remove the nest. And would not have recommended to do so. Please call Brian Hess at DEEP (860) 424-3208 Brian.hess@ct.gov to report the removal. Thx.”

Pete Reid: Hi, Dan. Managers at Terrain claim that the nest was removed by the Audubon Society with the approval of CT DEP. This surprised us, and I have reached out to Audubon and DEP to try to confirm this. It would be a violation of Federal law to destroy a working osprey nest, and this sounds like a working nest. I would say this is a story worth looking into. WASA has been very helpful in getting the word out on this. Regards, Pete Reid, Wildlife in Crisis, Weston.

The nest, 4 days ago. (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Betsy Peyreigne: After numerous phone calls from people concerned for the osprey, I went down to check out what was going on. I spoke to Audubon in Fairfield who made calls and confirmed that it was NOT Audubon who removed the nest this morning. They received a phone call yesterday asking their opinion on removing it and they firmly stated that it should NOT be touched or removed. The DEEP is investigating.

I met with the officer at the site and relayed all information that I could to him. Searching the entire area for the platform and the nest was not successful. This is in the right hands with the DEEP and I hope that we can get a good resolution soon for this situation. We rehab birds of prey, so if anyone sees either of the osprey grounded for any reason please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you all for your concern about these magnificent birds

Leslie Riback: I just called Terrain again and spoke to manager Maureen. She told me that the police dept and DEP are now involved. She admits that they were misinforming the public by telling them it was removed by the Audobon Society. She says the men who came and took it down told them they were “biologists”. Our phone call was cut short as she said the DEP was calling on the other line.
I guess this is now in the hands of the DEP. Can this get rectified quickly enough? I wish there was more I could do….

Alissa Harrison: I can confirm the CT Audubon Society’s Director of conservation was contacted just yesterday by the construction company involved and the official recommendation was to leave the platform as the osprey pair that nests there are habituated to all of the human activity and would not be negatively effected by the construction. The Audubon immediately contacted the DEEP biologist in charge of monitoring osprey. An Audubon employee was not in any way involved in the removal this morning, it was done solely by the construction company going against the official recommendation of the CT Audubon. I’m happy to hear DEEP is investigating the matter further and hopefully the platform can be put back in place ASAP. It is my understanding that a nest can be removed as long as there are no eggs but that certainly doesn’t mean it should be especially in this situation. Thank you Betsy for your continued work to get to the bottom of this!

Former Eversource employee: Pole is Eversource property…they only allow their own crews or contractors they hire, to install or remove anything on their poles…this is clearly a violation of their rules which all municipalities support and take action against any violators – suggest getting Town of Westport involved. This violates NatIonal Electric Safety Code – thus coming under municipal jurisdiction for enforcement!

Debra Zager: Does Terrain know the name of the landlord because the cherry picker construction device in the back parking lot of Fresh Market (and where Terrain is busting through building) has the keys still in it and it is the machine used to remove the nest. Someone told a worker at Fresh Market that they were relocating the nest for safety due to the upcoming construction … Ridiculous! Does Terrain have Security Cameras or Fresh Market ? If so- perhaps they can identify who did this early this morning?

Fiona Boughton: I am one of two Terrain employees who ran to the scene to demand an explanation from the team of 3 men involved. Two of the men work for Regency Centers https://www.regencycenters.com/office/WPT/New-YorkConnecticut-Office & the other stated that he was employed by All Points Technology http://allpointstech.com and was there to investigate whether the nest was active or not. He told me that because there were no eggs in the nest, he deemed it as inactive BUT we, at Terrain, have been seeing nesting activity over the past week where osprey are in the process of adding sticks to the nest & also sleeping in the nest. I was told by the Regency Centers that I was in the way & to leave the scene. I immediately reported this to the management team of Terrain who acted on reporting it immediately to the EPA https://www.epa.gov

An officer from DEEP came to Terrain & I shared my entire story with him. He assured us that he would get to the root of this. Terrain management kept this as a priority throughout the day & into this evening. & is active in doing everything possible to see that the Osprey are protected & that the nest is replaced as soon as possible. It has been a most heartbreaking day for all of us at Terrain.

Lauren Aber: I’m the store manager at Terrain. We are as upset as everyone about the removal of the Osprey nest. Although the nest does not sit on our property, the birds are very important to us and we look forward to their return every year. We have contacted the EPA, who sent on officer out to the store. They are conducting an investigation and I will update this post with their findings.

Osprey Nest Is Down. What’s Up With That?

Westport loves its ospreys. The pair that nest next to Fresh Market — right there on the main drag — are particularly well known and admired.

They returned from their southern home last week.  Today, several Westporters noted with distress that the nest is gone.

Lindsay and Nick from Earth Animal — across the street from the tall pole — emailed “06880”:

The osprey nest was taken down early this morning. The maintenance crew are driving around a crane today so we believe this was done by the landlords.

It has been heartbreaking to see the osprey circling around the area that was once their home, not knowing what to do. They are carrying large sticks and trying to rebuilt and are even attempting to built on their old home location on the telephone pole. The osprey are loved by our community and we are not sure how to help them. Do you have an idea?

This still image from a video shot by Sam Levenson shows the ospreys as they circled what used to be their nests.

(Photo from video by Sam Levenson)

Here’s a close-up view of the now-bare nest:

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

A few years ago Eversource moved the nest, from one pole to a less dangerous one.

There are no details on this move. If any “06880” readers have information — or know how to help the ospreys — click “Comments” below.