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Eastonites Renew Fight Against Development

Mark Bisson is concerned that the affordable housing project proposed by the Saddle Ridge Developers LLC would "open the floodgates" to more development in Easton.

"This is unprecedented in this town. If this were to be allowed, there would be a precedent," said Bisson, who lives on Bohus Lane off Silver Hill Road in Easton. "There's a great model in place now – it's trees, it's Earth. ... It's worked really well. We know it works."

Chris Miles of the Coalition to Save Easton also spoke against the "new" plan. Saddle Ridge Developers did not appeal the Planning and Zoning Commission's denial of its project in February. Instead, it submitted an amended proposal, which would cut the number of townhouses from 105 to 99 and reduce its impervious coverage by nearly 4 acres. The homes would be built in a public water supply watershed area.

Robert Maquat, chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, read multiple letters from organizations and individuals opposing the amended project. Most letter writers and speakers at the public hearing Monday had not changed their minds from the original proposal.

The 124-acre site is located at Sport Hill Road, Silver Hill Road, Cedar Hill Road and Westport Road. The amended proposal would reduce the size of some of the townhouses, widen driveways for emergency vehicle access and modify the proposed Housing Opportunity Development regulations to say it would not exceed 99 units.

"A fundamental principle of drinking water supply source protection is to limit the density of residential development within public water supply watershed areas to no more than one dwelling unit per 2 acres of buildable area," Brian Roach of Aquarion Water Co. wrote in a letter to Maquat.

Even the reduced project proposes more than one dwelling per buildable acre. A total of 70 acres of the property would be left undisturbed and storm water management would "meet or exceed the Department of Environmental Protection's regulations," said Ted Hart, professional engineer with Milone & MacBroom. "Storm water will be retained in the bottom of basins, which will be prepared with a high organic planting bed for wetland plants and act as a carbon filter to cleanse water that passes through it."

Gary Dufel, an outside engineer for Planning and Zoning, said he has "no confidence" that these basins would drain because of the slope in some of the areas.

The public hearing will reconvene Monday, May 16. The Planning and Zoning Commission will then wait for the Conservation Commission's report before rendering its decision, which will be made within 35 days of receiving the report.

The Conservation Commission has a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, May 10, at 7 p.m. in the Easton Public Library Community Room.

What are your thoughts about the smaller Saddle Ridge plan? Leave your comments below.

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