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Easton Prepares To Nix Cheaper Homes

The Saddle Ridge debate is coming to a head in Easton. The Planning and Zoning Commission met on Monday to discuss its resolution officially rejecting the company's application to build 32 affordable houses in a public watershed. It has until Monday, Feb. 14, to submit the resolution to the state.

After months of public hearings and expert testimony on the dangers of high-density building within a watershed, the commission is convinced the risk outweighs the benefit.

"We recognize the need for affordable housing in Easton,"  P&Z Chairman Robert Maquat said, quoting the resolution. "The risk is much too high in this density. The risk far outweighs the need for public housing."

But the commission also noted that if certain changes were made to the application, it would be considered. As it stands, the proposed density is too high. The development consists of 105 units -- 32 of which are designated affordable -- on a 96.5 acre land area. The state recommends no more than one unit per two acres in a watershed, and Saddle Ridge's application would more than double that recommendation.

"The proposal is unacceptable," the resolution continued. "The commission finds that there could be reasonable changes to this application that would make it acceptable. ... The commission would consider a plan with lower density." Right now, the "application presents a clear and obvious danger to the drinking water supply."

Saddle Ridge is using Connecticut statute 8-30g, which allows developers to get around zoning laws if less than 10 percent of a town's houses are classified as affordable. In Easton, less than 1 percent of houses have that classification.

Maquat asked Easton's lawyer in this case, Ira Bloom, what the chances were of the judge siding with Saddle Ridge. "This is not a good time or setting to talk about that," Bloom responded.

If Easton's resolution is accepted by the state, Saddle Ridge is likely to appeal under the 8-30g statute.

What do you think? Does the risk of building in a public watershed outweigh the need for affordable housing? Tell us your thoughts in the comment box below.

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