Tag Archives: 20-26 Morningside Drive South

[OPINION] Historic Importance Of South Morningside Is Huge

Between the ospreys and education issues, Westporters’ attention has recently been diverted from the long-running saga of Morningside Drive South. But the Historic District Commission meets Tuesday (Town Hall, 7 p.m.) to discuss a planned development there. “06880” reader Aurea de Souza writes:

Before Walter and Naiad Einsel bought their home and studio, 26 Morningside Drive South was the home of  Charles B. Sherwood. Yes, that’s the same Sherwood family remembered today through Sherwood Island State Park, the Sherwood Island Connector, even Sherwood Diner!

Charles B. Sherwood was given 7 acres of land by his father Walter in 1853.  That same year, he built his house. It was sold in 1864 to John B. Elwood, who owned it until 1920. The Einsels bought it in 1965, after vacationing in Westport for 4 years.

In 2005 the Einsels received a Preservation Award for their home. In 2007 their home and property were designated a Local Historic District.

The Einsels’ house on South Morningside Drive.

Anne Hamonet and her husband Alberto bought what used to be the barn of the Sherwood property in 2002. They have since restored it, respecting its historic value. Today their home is a Greens Farms sanctuary, cherished by the neighborhood.

The Hamonets raise chickens that run freely through the property. Anne brings fresh cage-free organic eggs to everyone at our neighborhood meetings. They also keep horses on the property. It’s almost like a movie set.

Because of the Hamonets, we all enjoy rooster and chicken noises, horses that can be seen from the street, and the beautifully restored barn.

This is what their bucolic backyard looks like today, right next to the proposed development.

This is an approximation of what it will be when the southwest block of the 16 3-bedroom, 32.5-foot high condos is built, just 15 feet from their fence.

The historic importance of 20-26 Morningside Drive south is huge for Westport.  It is about to be destroyed by a developer who purchased property in a historic district. He was well aware of the limitations, but is taking advantage of the 8-30g “affordable housing” statute which can take precedence over historic districts and flooding issues.

The homes will be built on top of wetland setbacks on already flood-prone Muddy Brook – which this week caused the collapse of Hillandale Road bridge.

There is also a safety issue. Westport requires a 400-foot distance from a school driveway for any driveway cutout. Plans for this development shows their driveway directly across from Greens Farms Elementary School.

The developer has presented drawings of the individual groups of homes, but at the Architecture Review Board hearing on March 26, failed to present any documentation on how it will look as a whole.

A Greens Farms United member who is an architect put all of their documentation together in a rough section of what it will actually look like (These do not account for any land modifications; it is simply an illustration of what has been made public).

The house in yellow is the current home, which the developer plans to transport to a new location much closer to the road.

Westport currently enjoys a 4-year moratorium on 8-30g developments, having met the state requirements. This proposal was submitted before the moratorium took effect.

Green’s Farms United: Neighbors Band Together

Greens Farms means many things, to many people.

It’s filled with rolling hills, old homes, a small beach, a friendly train station and post office, and a stately elementary school.

That school sits on the northern edge of the neighborhood. It’s an area that residents feel is under siege.

Just across the Post Road, a 94-unit apartment building is quickly filling up. Twelve apartments have been constructed on the site of the former Geiger’s property, with 32 assisted living apartments being built next door.

The bank/office complex at the Post Road/North Morningside corner has just been sold. That too may be converted into apartments.

Now 19 townhouses have been proposed for 20-26 South Morningside — the Historic District directly opposite Greens Farms Elementary School.

Green’s Farms United created this map to show recent and planned housing developments near Greens Farms School.

A group called Green’s Farms United has had enough.

Energized families created a website and GoFundMe page. They’re on Facebook and Instagram. They organized an email list, alerting Westporters about upcoming hearings.

They hired an environmental engineer. And a lawyer.

They’re mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore.

They want everyone to know what’s coming up — and what’s come before.

They’ve seen the effects after the Morningside South developer removed trees near Muddy Brook in 2017: soil erosion and flooding increased.

But something else happened.

“We started as a group of Greens Farms families, concerned about the 20-26 Morningside Drive South future,” says one of the organizers, Aurea de Souza.

“We are now a group of friends and neighbors fighting for a cause, while enjoying and appreciating meeting so many incredible people on the way.”

They take heart from neighbors on the other side of town, who are battling the proposed 6-story, 81-unit apartment complex between Lincoln and Cross Streets, off Post Road West.

They are Green’s Farms United.

That’s more than just their name.

It’s their neighborhood.

And their lives.

The current view of 20-26 Morningside Drive South (left), directly opposite Greens Farms Elementary School, and an overlay of where the proposed 19 townhouses would be built.