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Saddle Ridge Appeals After Easton Rejects Housing

EASTON, Conn. – The Saddle Ridge applicants are taking Easton's Planning and Zoning Commission to court.

Saddle Ridge Developers, Silver Sport Associates and Marilyn Stone filed an appeal after the commission denied its amended application for a housing development Aug. 8. The resolution says the applicant made eight modifications from the original proposal, which was denied in February.

Those changes included a cut in the number of townhouses in the proposed development by six, an increase in all driveway widths to 24 feet and a reduction in impervious cover to 6.37 acres.

The appeal states the decision is not supported by evidence on record; it's not necessary to protect a substantial public interest in health or safety; the commission's decision did not clearly outweigh the need for affordable housing in Easton; and the issues could have been addressed by "reasonable" changes to the site plan.

But John Hayes, land use director, said the applicants did not adequately address the concerns of the commission with the amended application.

"They reduced the number of proposed houses from 105 to 99. That's a very, very small adjustment," said Hayes. "The changes didn't have any measureable effect on the potential damage to the watershed. ... If the project were to proceed there would be an adverse affect and it would be precedent setting for affordable, dense applications."

State policies say there should be a maximum density of one dwelling unit for 2 upland acres in a water supply watershed, Hayes said. "This number is approximately twice that density," he said.

The plaintiffs say the commission's decision is illegal, arbitrary, capricious and in abuse of its discretion.

"Easton has an acute and unmet need for affordable housing. As of 2010, only 10 homes in Easton qualify as affordable housing," which is less than one-half of 1 percent of home in Easton, the appeal says.

Expert testimony said the "post development conditions would protect the water supply watershed and not create an unsafe condition," the appeal states. Also, the "commission's preference for lower density does not constitute denial."

Saddle Ridge Developers also appealed the Easton Conservation Commission's denial Aug. 3.

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