WESTPORT — A sewer extension request to increase housing density on Hiawatha Lane was unanimously rejected by the Board of Selectmen on Feb. 22.

Before making the decision, First Selectman Jim Marpe called on the Planning and Zoning Commission to issue a recommendation—the board voted in line with the commission’s recommendation to turn down the application filed by Summit Saugatuck to build a 1,600-foot sewer addition from Davenport Avenue to Hiawatha Lane Extension for a conceptual 29-lot subdivision development.

Second Selectman Avi Kaner, who previously voted in favor of the sewer extension on July 27 (where it failed by a 2-1 vote by the Board of Selectman acting in their capacity as the Water Pollution Control Authority), said the reason he changed his mind was because the previous application “was a joint project with the Westport Housing Authority which would have provided some level of affordable senior housing and a specific plan to do so that was almost shovel ready.”

The July application called for a 155-unit affordable housing complex. Summit Saugatuck appealed and the matter which will be taken up in Stamford Superior Court on April 26.

The WPCA denied the July application because the force main pipe, which runs underneath the Saugatuck River, and Pump Station 2 were both in need of repairs at the time they rendered their decision. As of now, the town plans to make these changes pending permits from DEEP, funding and the hiring of a contractor. The repairs could be made as early as this summer or as late as August 2018.

The board agreed with the commission’s four main reasons to turn down the proposal: the sewer extension is not necessary to create the 29-unit subdivision; the plan for the housing complex is conceptual and allocation of sewer capacity is not a “good use of town resources;” the proposal at odds with the 2007 Plan of Conservation and Development where the sewer should meet local needs but should not promote more intense development; the proposal may facilitate high-density development in a B-zone which is contrary to the POCD.

Pointing to the commission’s finding that the sewer extension would promote more intense development, Marpe said, “that was an interesting part of their rationale that I hadn’t picked up on, but there’s no doubt that this is a more intense use of that area than is currently there.”

Also affirming the recommendation, Third Selectwoman Helen Garten said it’s the Planning & Zoning Commission’s decision to be the planners of the town.

@chrismmarquette; cmarquette@bcnnew.com