Appeal filed over Hiawatha Lane housing complex
WESTPORT — Summit Saugatuck, the development company that wants to build a 155-unit affordable housing development at the end of the Hiawatha Lane Extension, has filed an appeal against the town’s Water Pollution Control Authority.
On July 27, Summit’s application for an extension of a private sewer from Davenport Lane to Hiawatha Lane Extension and a conditional approval to connect residential development was denied by the WPCA in a 2-1 vote, with Selectman Avi Kaner dissenting. The appeal, filed in state Superior Court in Stamford, asks the court to sustain the appeal and approve the application.
When the development’s application was brought to the Planning and Zoning Commission in April, Tim Hollister, the attorney representing Summit, said the development will be built in two stages: phase one first, with 85 market-rate units; phase two would include 70 “affordable” units.
In order for the project to move forward, a sewer line 1,600 feet long would have to be installed from Davenport Lane to Hiawatha Lane in order to support both the new development and eight pre-existing homes in the vicinity.
The 155-unit complex and the houses require a combined 38,960 gallons per day of sewer capacity. According to the suit, in their April application, Redniss & Mead, a firm Summit enlisted, said the Westport sewage treatment plant, which can handle 3.3 million gallons per day, has the ability to handle an additional discharge of 38,960 gallons per day. The suit also maintains Redniss & Mead verified the existing Davenport Avenue sewer line is intact and able to accommodate additional sewage.
The suit also alleges the population density of Summit’s application was an issue of contention for the town.
“At the July 21, 2016, WPCA hearing, Public Works Director Edwards acknowledged that: Summit had pledged funds that would pay for the upgrade; the force main upgrade would take two months to complete; the pump station upgrade was ‘routine’; and a sewer extension to serve 30 residential homes would be acceptable, thus showing that his department’s concerns was the proposed density, not the extension,” the suit says.
“There is law in Connecticut that towns are not supposed to use sewers to control density,” Hollister said.
Town Attorney Ira Bloom refuted what the suit alleges, along with Hollister’s comment.
“That is not what the WPCA did, in fact. They denied it because, at present, the pump station behind Black Duck Cafe needs repairs and there’s a force main pipe, which goes under the Saugatuck River to the sewer treatment plant, that has to be repaired,” Bloom said. “And until those things are done, an estimated two to five years to complete, it is not possible to hook up a development of that size, and that’s what the engineering reports said quite clearly, as did Mr. Edwards, so this application is premature, and that’s what the WPCA said,” Bloom said.
If the force main pipe under the Saugatuck is forced to handle the sewage of the complex in its current state, it could cause grave issues for the town, Bloom said.
“The current pipe, which is deficient under the Saugatuck River, could burst, and that would create huge environmental issues. They didn’t even look at the force main pipe. Their engineer said he did not do any work on the force main pipe. Until the force main pipe is fixed, it can’t be done. It’s not a zoning question, it’s an engineering question,” Bloom added.