Category Archives: Real estate

Brazen Break-In Puts Homeowners On Alert

The homeowners were away for the weekend.At 12:30 p.m. last Sunday — in broad daylight, and in view of the road — a security camera caught a man walking up to their Old Hill neighborhood house.

For half an hour, he casually cased out the place. He walked around the property and climbed on the roof, checking for unlocked windows. He banged on the side of the house, making sure no one was home.

Footage from a Nest camera shows the burglar — casually carrying a Gatorade bottle — casing out an Old Hill neighborhood home.

He finally found a vulnerable basement window, underneath the deck. He removed the glass — avoiding setting off the alarm — and entered the home. Then he used the owner’s own tools to cut the alarm wire.

That set off the alarm, and the burglar ran away.

The intruder removed the glass window, then used the owner’s own tools to cut the security alarm line.

“This guy was brazen, unconcerned about being seen or caught, experienced,” the homeowner says. “He knew where the main line of the security system was, and went right to it.”

Police found a Gatorade bottle he had left behind, and got a DNA sample. He did not wear gloves, so they obtained fingerprints and boot prints from the basement too. However, odds are against him getting caught.

The homeowner shows the cut security alarm line.

This is not the first time this has happened in Old Hill. A neighbor’s home was broken into in mid-March.

Residents have noticed men walking around the area recently. They did not give it a second thought; they figured they were handymen, landscapers or other workers. They’ll be more vigilant now, watching their own property and others’.

Since they learned of the break-in, neighbors have posted Nest photos of men casing other houses.

Another intruder, at another Old Hill area home.

The owners are adding extra features to their system, and more cameras. They’re filling in the basement window, and alarming all their glass.

“He would have set off the motion detector if he tried to get upstairs,” the owner says. “But it’s still really creepy.”

Besides heightened awareness by all, there’s only one good thing to come of this incident: At least one intruder was masked.

And The Most Patriotic Homes In Westport Are …

You won’t see flags — or anything else red, white and blue — at this year’s fireworks. Westport’s show — along with 80% of similar celebrations around the nation — was canceled, due to COVID.

But Westport PAL — organizer of the annual event — teamed up with Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department, their longtime partner, to sponsor our 1st-ever “4th of July House Decorating Contest.”

Residents were encouraged to decorate the side of their house most visible from the street, showing off the themes of “patriotism” and “America.”

29 families took up the challenge. After intense judging, the winners were announced this afternoon.

1st place goes to Allen Levy and Autumn Waggoner of 19 Fillow Street. Of special note: All decorations were made in America, using recycled items. Their prize: 2 tickets to next year’s fireworks.

1st place: 19 Fillow Street.

The silver medal goes to Michael, Victoria and Giuliana Mirabelli of 1 Quintard Place, off South Maple. They receive 2 free rounds of golf at Longshore.

2nd place: 1 Quintard Place.

Placing 3rd were Nikki, Zoe, Nickolas and Christina Glekas of 20 Bridge Street.  They were rewarded with a $50 gift card to Saugatuck Sweets.

3rd place: 20 Bridge Street.

First honorable mention went to the Benson family of 17 Buena Vista Drive. One of their flags was from a World War II general.

1st honorable mention: 17 Buena Vista Drive.

Second honorable mention went to the Sylvester family of 7 Jonathan Lane, off Treadwell.

2nd honorable mention: 7 Jonathan Lane.

Congratulations to all. And special thanks to Max Robbins of Parks & Rec, who made it all happen.

(Hat tip: Andrew Colabella)

Everyone Into The Pool!

It’s something I’ve noticed on my daily bike rides around town: Lots of people are building swimming pools.

Ginia Bellafante noticed it too. The New York Times‘ “Big City” columnist jumps in to the phenomenon in a story for this Sunday’s edition.

With camps closed, and many people realizing they’re not going anywhere for summer vacation, the itch to swim has skyrocketed.

After noting the beach turf wars between cities and suburbs, Bellafante turns trenchantly toward pools.

Throughout Westport, backyard pools are already open.

You know what’s coming.

Midway through the story, she writes:

Traveling farther down the coast to Westport, Conn. — Cheever country — the pool obsession is no less frenetic. If you want a pool in Westport, you need a permit from the town’s building department. The number of requests has jumped this year, with 10 coming in just the past two weeks. Michele Onoforio, who works in the department, found herself really taken aback when she got three separate calls about aboveground pools recently.

Were people really that desperate? “I hadn’t seen one of these requests in 10 years,’’ she said. “I didn’t even know the protocol.’’ An aboveground pool in Westport is like a bag of Sun Chips on a table at Per Se.

Westport is one of many aesthetically pleasing places where affluent New Yorkers fleeing the infection have decamped. Some have chosen to move permanently. “The New Yorkers all want pools, and the inventory is very low,’’ Suzanne Sholes, a real estate agent in town told me. The houses that have them receive multiple offers both on the rental and sales sides despite the catastrophes afflicting the economy.

Just thing, for New Yorkers looking to leave the city.

To the rest of the country, Westport is now the town with a super-spreading party, drones that almost picked out social distance cheaters, and now a swimming pool shortage.

Something to think about, as you lounge by the water this holiday weekend.

(To read the entire Times column, click here.)

Remembering Phyllis McGovern

Longtime Westporter and noted realtor Phyllis McGovern died last week. She was 92.

A New York University graduate, she worked at an ad agency where she met her husband of 56 years, Pete McGovern. He died in 2005.

Phyllis McGovern

The McGoverns moved to Westport in 1952. She started her real estate career in the 1970s, and was a director of the Westport/Weston Board of Realtors.

Phyllis loved books, art, architecture, New York City and Westport culture. She volunteered on the town’s Bicentennial Celebration Committee.

Phyllis is survived by her sons Scott and Michael, their wives, and 3 grandchildren. Contributions in her name may be made to the Westport Library, which she and Pete considered their second home. To leave an online condolence, click here.

Her son Michael writes:

For many years Phyllis and Pete McGovern hosted legendary 4th of July parties at their Bluewater Hill home for all their neighbors, Westport and New York City friends and colleagues. There was plenty of drinking, fun games like Charades, and improvisational skits with costumes spontaneously appearing from their closet.

As part of the Bluewater Hill Association for many years, they co-hosted annual tennis parties and clambakes at the small, private beach house on the point.

The house at Schlaet’s Point — by the private Bluewater Hill beach — where the McGoverns hosted many parties.

One of Phyllis’ prized possessions was an original color poster of a garden dance concert hosted on the Schlaet grounds at Bluewater Hill. It still hangs on her wall.

My mom told a story that when she was 22 or so, and had first married Pete, they would meet at Toots Shor’s. One day she arrived early. She sat at the large round bar – which few women were allowed to do.

Jackie Gleason sat nearby. He began flirting with her. When a friend said “that’s Pete McGovern’s wife,” he was quite embarrassed. He apologized profusely — for his behavior, and for not knowing she was the bride of his own publicist, Pete McGovern.

From that point on she and Gleason hit it off well. They talked often about books, Shakespeare, Hemingway and of course my mother’s favorite author, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

My parents often went to Gleason’s house in Peekskill for brunch, listening to records and cocktails. They also went to Miami Beach in the 1970s, for “Jackie Gleason Show” broadcasts.

Over the years Phyllis had many real estate clients. She became friendly with Clifford Irving, who had written a bogus autobiography of Howard Hughes.  One summer, waiting to go to jail, he rented a house near the Minuteman. (I was a teenager, and cut his grass.)

My mom and dad had many dinners and walks with him during those troubling times. She felt sorry for him, and respected him as a writer — but not as a person, because of his unethical “fakery.”

My dad and I cleaned out the messy house after he moved out. Among the items he left behind were scores of books. I took some of them home, and realized a few were about Howard Hughes. They were the ones he had plagiarized.  I still have them.

Phyllis and Pete were loved and admired by many people in Westport. They were friendly with everyone, and a very fun-loving couple.

Both knew pretty much everyone in town. I was always amazed when we were at restaurants, the beach or downtown, how everyone said hello to both of them.

They felt special for all of the attention and friendships they established during those many years in Westport. Phyllis will be missed, just as Pete is.

Real Estate: Novel Twist On Town’s Popular Activity

“Open House” signs are gone. Building inspectors wear hazmat suits. Renters will pay $40,000 a month for a home — but you can no longer rent for just 30 days.

Welcome to the new normal in one of Westport’s oldest obsessions: real estate.

The tried-and-true dance that long linked sellers, buyers and realtors has — like everything else in the world — been turned topsy-turvy by COVID-19.

But real estate professionals are flexible and creative. To get a sense of how they’re adapting, and the new Westport market, I turned to a veteran.

Karen Scott of KMS Partners @ Compass says the rental side is particularly interesting.

Westport has always had a thriving summer rental market — primarily at the beach, but elsewhere too for folks wanting a bit more yard for fun and entertaining. Our amenities are great, plus we’re a lot easier to get to (and cheaper than) the Hamptons.

The Compo Beach neighborhood is popular for renters.

Residents who rent out their properties often travel in summer, or head to second homes.

The pandemic hit New York right as renters were signing contracts. Suddenly, they were joined by others who did not care about Compo or cookouts. They just wanted to flee the city.

“Anything on the market was scooped up,” Scott says. People called realtors, friends in town, friends of friends — anyone they could think of.

A few more homes came on the market — by snowbirds who figured they’d stay south a bit longer, for instance — but prices shot up “overnight.” Suddenly, non-beach homes were renting for $25,000 to $40,000 a month. Some of those were previously unsold homes, which their owners converted to rentals.

That frantic pace has slowed somewhat, Scott says. But that does not mean there is much inventory.

Karen Scott

Meanwhile — as the prime summer rental season looms — people who always rented out their homes are reassessing their plans. They may not leave town this year.

Last week, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe issued an order prohibiting leases of less than 31 days. That further upends the traditional rental market.

Home sales are affected too. With college kids back, and homeowners working from home instead of commuting to distant cities for work, some owners took their properties off the market.

But there are still houses for sale. And, Scott says, “buyers are out shopping. They want something immediately.”

Some were already looking to settle in this summer, to get used to the town before school begins. The pandemic spurred others to make a move they may have been thinking of only casually. Very low interest rates make buying now an attractive option.

The process of showing — and seeing — a home has changed dramatically, notes Scott.

“Virtual” tours of a property — including 3D walk-throughs — now include less-sexy (but more practical) areas like pantries. To reduce personal interactions some homeowners are making their own videos, rather than relying on realtors or professionals.

Traditions like open houses have been upended. Casual looking is gone. “Anyone entering a home now is a serious buyer, not a weekend browser,” Scott says.

Some sellers don’t want anyone entering their home. Some have imposed strict rules, like only one potential buyer inside at a time; no touching allowed. Afterward, every surface, door knob and light switch gets wiped down anyway.

Some realtors stay outside, when the client goes in. Even so, all wear masks and gloves. Every interaction is discussed in advance. Realtors honor all requests, from sellers and buyers.

Of course, real estate transactions involve many other people. Scott says that building inspectors are being ultra-careful (like the one wearin a hazmat suit). Attorneys work remotely. Title searches — which must be done in person — can be a challenge.

But, Scott adds, “Everyone has been very collaborative. The entire real estate community puts safety first. It’s been very satisfying so far.”

Scott has been a realtor long enough to have seen dark, dismal times: 9/11 for example, and the Great Recession.

“When we’re in the thick of things, the future of real estate looks unknown and scary,” she says. “But we got through them. We will get through this. We can maneuver through prevailing winds. We deal with situations. We help people get whatever is needed done. We advise and guide, and we are doing that right now.”

Despite — or perhaps especially during — the current crisis, housing is an important need. Westport remains an attractive destination for many homebuyers.

And not just for its amenities. Potential buyers have seen the outpouring of spirit, by neighbors and strangers, during the pandemic. “They see and read about so much compassion, care and sense of community. They want to be part of this amazing place,” Scott says. “They see people doing things for each other and the town. It gives them hope.”

Marpe: Masks, Mutts, Rentals And More

First Selectman Jim Marpe says:

This weekend, I witnessed most people maintaining the recommended distance between neighbors and friends when out and about in Westport neighborhoods and public facilities. Thank you to all who heeded the clear message that we need to self-isolate and, when we do go out, we maintain social distancing at all times. We are still a long way from the end of this battle, so please continue to practice appropriate social distancing and avoid gathering even on private property.

A new directive from the CDC states that when going out, all individuals, whether infected or not, should wear a mask or cover their face.

This directive does not eliminate the need for 6-foot virus distancing. Self-isolation and distancing ensures your own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of your family, friends, neighbors and community. It is very important that we continue on this path, and do everything we can to insure that others follow our positive examples. Remember that if you walk your dog anywhere, it must be on a leash.

Social distancing at the beach. The photo was taken before the CDC’s new mask directive. (Photo/Bob Weingarten)

To our new neighbors who are moving into Westport: You must quarantine for 14 days. Realtors and homeowners must cease short-term (31 days or fewer) rental transactions.

Compliance with these directives and managing quarantining in this manner is an effective way to reduce the risk of community spread. Thank you for considering your new neighbors and fellow-Westporters when you move to town.

Thank you also to the many Westporters who leave messages and send e-mails about incidents, data, reports or concerns specific to COVID-19. We appreciate your intentions, and are trying to review and respond as quickly as possible. Many of your questions are addressed in regular updates and media posts. If you have not done so already, please follow or check updates:

The current crisis is both active and ever-changing. While we are looking ahead to the social and economic impacts this crisis may impose in the future, we must balance that with immediate public safety needs and day-to-day government functions. Your patience and understanding is appreciated.

Please continue to self-isolate, quarantine if necessary, socially distance yourself and, as much as possible, stay at home. Remember, you’re not stuck at home; you’re safe at home.

As of today, there are 146 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in  Westport. That’s 11 more than yesterday.

Statewide, Connecticut has recorded 6,906 cases. That’s an increase of 1,231 from yesterday. There have been 206 deaths.

Fairfield County continued to lead the state in cases with 3,719. There have been 101 deaths.

COVID-19 Roundup: Property Tax Info; Ringing Bells; Harrowing Survival Story; Online Fitness And Yoga; Free Resumes; More

Several readers have wondered about Westport real estate and personal property tax abatement or deferral (they’re due today — April 1. No fooling). I asked 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. He says:

For several weeks, our town (and others) have been exploring deferment alternatives for property owners who can demonstrate genuine hardship. This is still a work in process.

Among other things, the governor must take executive order steps to allow a local community the option to modify property tax payment penalties and deadlines. I have been in direct touch with Governor Lamont on this issue. In the meantime the April 1 quarterly tax payment date still remains, but as always, allows 30 days (until May 1) to pay without penalty.

I have not heard if utility companies plan to offer any special dispensation for hardship cases. Our Human Services Department regularly works with residents on utility payment plans if true need can be demonstrated.

In related news, Governor Lamont announced yesterday a 90-day grace period on mortgage payments, and a 60-day delay on foreclosures. Homeowners should contact their banks and/or mortgage companies for details.

Across the country, communities are coming together to ring bells in support of medical personnel and other frontline workers.

From 5:00 to 5:02 p.m. tonight, Westport families are asked to “joyously sound a bell, chime, bang pans, etc. as a reminder that while we may be physically separated, we remain united. Let’s make this a gesture of gratitude to all the people helping us overcome this present situation: the police department, fire department, first responders, town officials, teachers and healthcare workers, including the many Westport parents who leave their families to care for those in need at hospitals and medical offices.”

Greens Farms and Assumption Churches — and perhaps others — will join in. Ring them bells! (Hat tips: Jaclyn Lindsey-Noble and Staples High School PTA)

In addition, reader Mary Beth Stirling urges Westporters to fly the American flag. That — and donations to any organization that helps those in need — are both a show of support, and a way to teach children that whatever they can do (including staying home to protect lives) is a patriotic act.

Green’s Farms Congregational Church has a great bell to ring.

“06880” readers know Heather Bauer for her tips on eating healthy in restaurants.

Now the rest of America knows her as a COVID-19 survivor. The 42-year-old nutritionist/mother of 3/ runner of 15 marathons was in great health — until she attended a party, and got infected.

Two days ago — just a week after leaving Yale New Haven Hospital, where she spent 9 harrowing days — Heather told her story on CNN.

It’s a scary tale of fever, migraine headaches, a full body rash, even possible meningitis. It’s also a tale of great care, by a wonderful medical staff. Click below to watch. (Hat tip: Ben Sturner)

Patty Kondub’s great water aerobics classes have been beached by the coronavirus. So have dozens of other Westport Weston Family YMCA offerings, in strength training, yoga — you name it.

But members can still get exercise — on land, at home. There are offerings for all ages, in every imaginable category. Click here for info.

PS: Yesterday, I (coincidentally) got a call from the Y. They were just checking in on all members — seeing how we are, and what we need.

I really need to swim. But failing that, I’d like to say this: THANKS, Y! What a nice, friendly, community touch!

A motivational message from Patty Kondub.

Speaking of exercise, Kaia Yoga’s classes are now all online. Many are inexpensive. There are also free kids’ classes and meditations — great for parents looking for productive activities.

Kaia Yoga — which has long provided classes for Bridgeport school children –has been hit hard by the coronavirus. They employ over 70 teachers.

Click here for a list of classes.

Speaking (again) of exercise, does anyone have an unused stationary bike they’re willing to sell? Asking for (ahem) a friend.

Every Westporter has a talent. Many are figuring out how to use their expertise to help others.

As a career coach, Jaki Suter helps clients write or refresh resumes. With so many people suddenly facing job losses, she’s doing her part: offering a “free resume refresh” to 30 Westport and Weston residents.

She’ll work with you to highlight skills and accomplishments; include new positions and details, and eliminate irrelevant details.

All you need is an existing resume no more than 5 years old. You’ll work by phone. Jaki will produce an updated resume, including a round of revisions and a final document.

To be one of the first 30 local residents, email (subject line: “Free Resume Refresh”).

Jennifer Hrbek reports that she and Westport psychiatrist Dr. Mohamed Elsamra are helping raise $50,000 to buy 4 ventilators, to be donated to local hospitals. Click here to contribute.

Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich notes that transfer station personnel cannot assist with bulky waste. Do not bring those items to the station.

In addition, with the increase in cardboard due to online ordering, all boxes should be flattened, stacked and tied.

Tissues and gloves are being placed in recycling bins. They are not recyclable, and must be placed in the regular trash bin.

Due to the increased amount of glass containers, recycling bins are too heavy for workers to lift. For the time being, residents should separate glass into a smaller container, or put all recycling in smaller containers so workers can lift them.

Transfer station

Greens Farms Academy head of school Bob Whelan has gained fame — and respect — for his great snow day videos.

It’s a little tougher to pull off a clever coronavirus video. But the popular, people-first educator did.

This morning he channeled Fred Rogers, for the school’s youngest learners. Bob —  whose career before education was fronting the band Angry Salad — sang for his students.

He reminded them he (and the school) were still there for them. Then, in true Mr. Rogers fashion he asked them to keep him apprised of big events, like birthdays and lost teeth.

You don’t have to be a kid — or go to GFA — to love this one.

Miriam Young writes, “As one of many COVID positive people in Westport, I hope you can tell other positive readers about efforts to collect plasma from recovered patients.”

She sent a link to a story on how plasma might help people still fighting off infection (or, preemptively, those at high risk of infection).

When Westporter John Rizzi read that a TV remote can be 20 times dirtier than your toilet, he got worried. You can’t clean it well, without taking it all apart.

But he devised a solution: cover it in plastic wrap. It takes 2 seconds; it protects the device — and you can replace the wrap over and over again.

And finally, you don’t have to be a Kopite to love this song (and video!):

Photo Challenge #270

REO Speedwagon is one of those fairly popular, somewhat forgettable 1970s and ’80s bands.

They sold over 40 million records, and hit the Top 40 13 times. Their most famous song is “Keep On Loving You” — unless you’re from Westport, and know your musical trivia.

If so, then last week’s Photo Challenge was a no-brainer. It showed a mailbox at 157 Riverside Avenue. (Click here for the photo.)

That’s the address of a house REO Speedwagon rented in 1970, while recording their first album (in nearby Bridgeport). Apparently the band is still together, with a few original Speedwagons. Also apparently, “157 Riverside Avenue” is still a concert favorite.

The actual 157 Riverside Avenue was not a favorite with historical preservationists. It was torn down in 2011.

A new home now sits on the lot opposite Saugatuck Elementary School. But — thanks to the mailbox — the band and the song live on. (Scroll down for bonus features: the song and lyrics.)

Congratulations to Fred Cantor, Matt Murray, Bruce Taylor, Ralph Balducci, Derek Fuchs, Wendy Cusick, Jill Turner Odice and Adam Schwartz. We don’t give out concert tickets — or any other prizes. For knowing your rock history though, you get 15 minutes of fame on “06880.”

This week’s Photo Challenge has nothing to do with music. But it has everything to do with Westport. If you know where you’d find this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Caroly Van Duyn)

We flew into town on Sunday, had to find a place by Monday
Tried Bridgeport and Westport, ’til we found a place that we thought would do
157 Riverside Avenue.

Saugatuck River’s flowin’, mother nature’s colors were showin’
So cold, so rainy, we couldn’t help feelin’ blue
Not enough time, too many things to do.

We met a young girl on Main Street, wanted to just pass her by
She was homely, so lonely, she said, “can I make love to you?”
We shouted 157 Riverside Avenue.

It’s over, Miss Lena, we’re leaving, such a pleasant stay, I must say.
So nice, so easy, we hate to say goodbye to you
At 157 Riverside Avenue.

It’s A Grand List

The town has announced the net 2019 Grand List.

At $11,445,273,580, it’s an increase of 1.17 % from the net 2018 Grand List of $11,311,830,644. The list is the sum of the net assessed value of all taxable property: real estate, motor vehicles, and personal property, a press release from assessor Paul Friia says.

Motor vehicles and personal property are valued annually. Real estate is updated based on market values on the town’s last revaluation date (October 1, 2015).

Work has already begun on the October 1, 2020 revaluation.

Homes like these contribute to the Grand List.

According to Friia, the 1.11% increase in real estate assessment totals results from continued residential and commercial new construction, along with renovation activity during the last assessment year.

New apartment/retail developments at 793 Post Road East and 201 Main Street, the new assisted living facility at 1141 Post Road East and the new development at 500 Main Street were significant projects that led the increases in the 2019 Grand List, Friia says.

Artist’s rendering of the Residence at Westport — a new assisted living facility.

Personal property increased 1.75 %, while motor vehicles showed a 2.6% increase.

The current 2019 Grand List totals are:

Assessment 2019 % of List
Real Estate 10,776,725,115 94.16
Motor Vehicle 350,622,910 3.06
Personal Property 317,925,555 2.78
TOTAL 11,445,273,580 100%

The Grand List will be used for fiscal year 2020-2021 town budget calculations.

The Nyala Farms office complex is the 2nd largest taxpayer in Westport.

Friia’s press release includes information on Westport’s top 10 taxpayers:

Connecticut Light & Power Inc          Pers. Property                         $139,409,760

60 Nyala Farms Road LLC                Real Estate                                $89,277,600

Bedford Square Assoc LLC               Real Estate                                $58,800,800

Equity One Westport Vill. Center      Real Estate                                $35,890,600

Byelas LLC                                        Real Estate                                $24,424,500

Aquarion                                             Real/Pers. Prop.                        $23,549,350

285 & 325 Riverside LLC                  Real Estate                                $21,291,300

Campana 125 LLC                             Real Estate                                $20,767,800

1735 Ashley LLC                               Real Estate                                $19,949,400

Ronnie F Heyman Trustee                 Real Estate                               $19,508,800

Hiawatha Lane Apartment Project Suffers Another Setback

Another meeting.

Another defeat for the proposal to build 187 apartment units on Hiawatha Lane. That’s the tough-to-access property bordering I-95 exit 17, for many years home to some of the most affordable housing in Westport.

Last night’s unanimous vote made it 2 towns that have repeatedly opposed plans by Summit Development. After a number of denials by Westport boards, this one came from the Norwalk Conversation Commission.

They ruled 5-0 to deny a request to build an emergency access road through the Norden property. It abuts Hiawatha Lane.

The Norden property includes 1 apartment building, and 11 acres of designated open space with a conservation easement. It was created  as part of a 2006 agreement with the then Norden property owners (now Avalon) and Westport and Norwalk residents. The easement specifically called for a gravel path for use by both towns’ residents for walking and bicycling, but precluded vehicular use.

The gravel walking path. (Photo/Matthew Mandell)

Summit’s request by Summit to modify the easement was made following the Westport Planning & Zoning Commission’s denial of the Hiawatha project. Westport’s fire marshal had raised health and safety issues, noting that the only access to the complex was at the end of a long cul-de-sac.

Summit claimed there would be no environmental issues with the expansion of the path. However, the Norwalk Commission felt there was no need to modify the easement to allow for this.

Save Old Saugatuck, a neighborhood organization led by resident Carolanne Curry, was joined by members of the East Norwalk Neighborhood Association in opposing the request to modify the conservation easement to allow a road.

The Aspetuck and Norwalk Land Trusts both opposed the request as well. They said that modifying an easement for the sole benefit of a developer would set a bad precedent.

State senators Will Haskell and Tony Hwang, along with state representatives Jonathan Steinberg and Gail Lavielle sent letters in opposition. Hwang and Lavielle also spoke at the hearing.

Artist’s rendering of the proposed 187-unit apartment complex on Hiawatha Lane.

Norwalk’s opposition to the project mirrored what happened 14 years ago. Then, Westport residents spearheaded by Curry and RTM member Matthew Mandell aided Norwalk residents in their drive to preserve the land.

The no-road constraint in the easement was agreed to at that point, in part to stop  future cross-border encroachment.

The latest setback for Summit followed 2 appellate court decisions regarding a sewer extension. Summit also failed to block Westport from joining a suit filed by them against the State Housing Authority, seeking to overturn the moratorium granted from 8-30g applications.

(Hat tip: Matthew Mandell)