Letter: Greenwich Should Stand Fast Against 8-30g

To the Editor,

Following a massive flood in the spring of 2007 – nearly 15 years ago – the Town of Greenwich hired a consultant to investigate and make recommendations to alleviate flooding in the Horseneck brook watershed, a huge area of approximately 3,900 acres extending (on the east) from about Upper Cross Road/North Street to Grahampton Lane, to North Maple then down to Horseneck Lane, and on the west from Upper Cross to Old Mill/Lake Avenue, following to Clapboard Ridge/Round Hill to Zaccheus Mead, then to Calhoun and back to Horseneck Brook. The area includes Greenwich Hospital, the commercial and industrial area along Route 1 and the surrounding residential areas. At the time, 49 houses were identified as being at risk, although the study noted “Flows are anticipated to increase…as development on forested land and open space occurs in…the watershed,” as indeed they have.

The study documented flooding complaints from residents of Brookside Drive, Fieldpoint Road, Glen Road, Glenville Road, Hamilton Avenue, Lake Avenue, Maher & Railroad Avenues, Round Hill, Winding Lane, Woodland Drive and Zaccheus Mead Lane— and those were just for the major storm events. Many more complaints came from locations in Greenwich but outside of the studied area. A look at the consultant’s map shows problems from Stamford to Westchester.

The consultant reviewed earlier studies dating back to 1958. Yet even after last summer’s flood, no action has been taken on this report, while development within Greenwich continues at a breakneck pace and land use density increasing throughout the town.

To be sure, this is not the only infrastructure issue facing Greenwich. Just last week, another of our schools faced an emergency shut down, our sewer system is overloaded and the water system is close to failure. The fact is that Greenwich is at high risk of a major catastrophe.

Proposals are piling up for a record number of high-density, mutli-story buildings that would be shielded from most town zoning ordinances by a misguided state law commonly referred to 8-30g. Approval of these monstrous structures can only push our systems beyond their capacities into a potentially life threatening, full-blown crisis. Town government, after ignoring the issues for too long, is finally waking up to the threat, at least of development if not infrastructure.

It is time to admit that our infrastructure has not kept pace with our growth. How serious are our problems? I would argue that we should suspend *all* development until we figure out how to stop the flooding, repair the water and sewer systems, ensure the electrical distribution system and, most importantly, protect our students, teachers and administrators. It is essential that we fight to regain local control of our zoning, even if it means pursuing the dispute in the courts.

This is what we need to do NOW.

Regain control of local zoning. Challenge 8-30g in court if necessary.

Repair our infrastructure, especially flooding control/drainage/storm water/sewer and public buildings (schools)

Suspend permitting of development that might impinge on attaining these goals

It is time to act.

Yours truly,

Lawrence J. Sterne

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