To the Editor:
To the Board of Selectmen, Town of Easton:
After 25 years of fighting multiple developers, Sacred Heart (many times) and the New England Prayer Center and its outrageous front parking lot, I had thought the battle was over when the citizens of Easton overwhelmingly voted at a special town meeting on May 31 to support the conservation easement on the South Park Avenue property.
Until the June 16 BOS meeting.
I can not believe that the BOS would even consider yet another age-restricted housing development on the property in the face of the Town vote. This is wrong for so many reasons, many of which were voiced at the BOS meeting.
First, once any project breaks Easton’s zoning regulations, further development is inevitable. If sewer hook-up is allowed to this proposed project, this will inspire other projects with sewer lines throughout the town. And don’t say that will never happen.
The same tired and recycled fallacies were voiced Thursday night as they were when prior age-restricted developments were considered for South Park Avenue. The attorney that spoke stated that this proposal was for the benefit of Easton seniors. No one is that magnanimous – this project is purely for profit. Easton seniors have no interest in downsizing to a more expensive town house with no amenities. Seniors either want to stay in their own homes or seek warmer weather, less housing expenses and are moving to states with little or no income tax, not the high taxes of the Northeast. And the way the economy is going with inflation eating into retirement accounts and higher mortgage rates, 36 units of age-restricted housing will be a tough sell. There appears to be a glut of senior housing already on the market (MISH, November 12, 2019). Once these units languish on the market, the developer will approach the town for a variance to open it up to all comers, negating any so called tax benefit to the town. Another concern would be for the developer to change his mind if he does not get the approvals and then threaten the Town with the old bait-and-switch routine to affordable housing. This happened before.
However, the main reason this proposal is wrong is because it defies what took place at the town meeting a few weeks ago. After years of threats of development, Easton citizens have repeatedly voted to preserve the property and again they voted for the conservation easement. You must honor that vote. How absurd that this developer and attorney were fearful to present this proposal during the town meeting. When has any developer and attorney been intimidated? I attended the meeting and there were people that came forth freely with opposing concerns and ideas with considerable debate to the wording of the ordinance. Ultimately, after the debate, the majority spoke to preserve the property.
I resent a developer and his fast-talking attorney telling the Town of Easton what to do with the property. The citizens of Easton told him what to do with his proposal Thursday night. The town voted to spend the $6 mil to preserve the property. The town should not be in the real estate business to make a profit. Open space is the purpose for this property and in the best interest of the town. The attorney made glib remarks that this project will not be obvious to the Town and not in a neighborhood. As I advised all of you in the public comment, the South Park property is in MY neighborhood and is also the entrance to the town.
Your fellow citizens voted and told the BOS to place a conservation easement on the property. They also told you last night to outright reject this proposal. The BOS made a recommendation to sell 19 acres to ALT but the remainder acres now are expendable for cluster housing?
Our own Town web site describes Easton as an oasis of rural charm in busy Fairfield county. If you, Dr. Bindleglass as First Selectman, Mr. Bob Lessler and Ms. Kristi Sogofsky, wish to be the architects for the destruction of Easton, what a tragic shame that you have violated the trust of the people.
Christopher and Amalia Michos