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Westport Conservation Commission Taking On Great Wall Debate

The Reserve at Poplar Plains is the development next to the Partrick Wetlands in Westport.
The Reserve at Poplar Plains is the development next to the Partrick Wetlands in Westport. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTPORT, Conn. — Westport’s Conservation Commission will tackle the issue of a 150-foot-long, 9-foot-high retaining wall topped with a 6-foot fence that was built near a wetlands without town permission, a conservation official said.

Grassy Plains LLC will go before the Conservation Commission to seek approval for actions the home builder has already taken, “without permission or permit,” and to seek additional concessions as a part of its plan to enhance the value of a 13-home development on Grassy Plains Road, said Matthew Mandell, director of the Partrick Wetlands Preservation Fund.

The development, immediately adjacent to the Partrick Wetlands, is known as the Reserve at Poplar Plains.

Mandell said Grassy Plains has taken six actions that “ignored the town’s Conservation and Planning and Zoning approvals and regulations as well as a stipulated court judgment.” He called it “the largest transgression I have seen by any developer against the town.”

The actions consist of building the huge wall; hauling in backfill to level backyards; encroaching on a deed restricted property to level yet another back yard; and extending decks, many substantially beyond the sizes approved, Mandell said.

Lawyer Alan Spirer, of Grassy Plains LLC,  agreed that “there is a problem” and that Grassy Plains should have gained approval before erecting the retaining wall and fence. But he downplayed the matter, saying “none of this is in a sensitive area,” and “there are no environmental issues here,” notwithstanding the fact that discussion on this site has a 20 year history, the last seven of which have sought to preserve the wetlands and the surrounding neighborhood.

Mandell said his action in fighting the developers has been joined in an “unprecedented alliance” by Save Westport Now, the Coalition for Westport, the Greens Farms Association and the Save Cranbury Association to oppose “the legalization of these violations and any further requests.”

Denise Torve, chairman of the Coalition for Westport, said, “The coalition notes the efforts undertaken by the Patrick Wetlands Preservation Fund to bring the public’s attention the unapproved development and apparent violations of prior agreements.”

The Conservation Commission meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 15, in Room 201 at Town Hall.

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