Tesei, Neighbors Urge Rejection of Glenville 96-Unit Residential Complex

By Bill Slocum
Contributing Editor

Central Greenwich residents, joined by First Selectman Peter Tesei, urged the town Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency Monday night to reject an application for a large residential complex just off the Post Road near Glenville.

The application would allow construction of two apartment buildings for 96 single-family units, as well as an underground garage with capacity for 111 vehicles, on a two-acre wooded lot at 47 Valley Drive.

Tesei and others speaking in opposition said the development, while not directly disturbing wetlands on the property, would have a negative impact on area watercourses stretching to Long Island Sound.

“The application before you is a transformational one,” Tesei said, describing it as contrary to the town’s 2009 Plan of Conservation and Development. “This is not the right location to put this because it is bad for the environment, not only for abutting property owners, but those who live downstream.”

Thomas Heagney, an attorney representing the applicant, 47 Valley Drive LLC, confirmed the size and scope of the application. He requested, and was granted by the agency, more time to prepare an analysis of what the project would entail in terms of wetlands impact.

“We expect to be in a position to answer your concerns in time for your next meeting,” he said.

Opponents indicated they were ready to make their objections heard now, saying it represents too much development for the area.

Michael Klemens, a conservation biologist hired by the Georgetowne North Association of neighboring condominium owners, described the proposed project as a “mega-development” that would cover 42 percent of the lot with impervious surfacing.

Pressed by agency members, Klemens admitted wetlands on the site would not be directly impacted by construction, but claimed the indirect effect of such large-scale development would be just as ruinous. He called the wetlands at 47 Valley Drive “headwaters wetlands, not an isolated fragment.”

“You will be damaging the wetlands in several different ways if this is approved,” he said.

Echoing Klemens’ objections was Bruce Cohen, an attorney representing owners of the neighboring 31-unit Georgetowne North complex. In addition to saying the project was too big for the lot, Cohen argued the application should be “dead on arrival” because the ownership of 47 Valley Drive remains tied up in probate court, and is hence potentially invalid. Agency members disputed this latter assertion as speculative.

Other opponents questioned various features of the apartment complex, in particular the underground garage and a roof designed to collect rainwater that would otherwise filter into the ground.

Lin Lavery, a former town selectman and neighbor, called attention to various features advertised in promotional material for the development, including rooftop pool and exercise facility, a driving range, and a bocce court.

“It’s ridiculous, it’s unrealistic, and it doesn’t seem to fit,” she said.

Valerie Stauffer, a member of the Representative Town Meeting, urged the agency to “just say no.”

“One doesn’t have to be a hydrologist to realize the runoff implications of digging deep into the ground to build a garage for 111 cars,” she said.

The Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency voted to allow the applicant an extension and present a formal application at their next regularly-scheduled meeting on March 28.

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