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Friday, September 08, 2017

P&Z Puts Off Decision on North Ave. Water Tanks

After lengthy discussion, including word that Aquarion Water Company had modified its application to build two new water tanks on North Avenue, the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission Thursday night took no action on the application.

WestportNow.com Image
Aquarion said it recently added additional landscaping to its North Avenue site to further hide a new pump station there. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The P&Z, which first took up the application July 20 for a special permit and site plan approval for construction of the tanks at 63-67 North Ave., diagonally across from Staples High School, continued the matter until its next meeting.

At Thursday night’s session, representatives of Aquarion said after further calculations, they had reduced the size of each tank from 2.5 million gallons to 2.15 million and had revised its landscaping plan to add additional trees to screen them from neighbors.

However, the height of each tank would have to be increased slightly to get the necessary pressure and flow, they said.

Sara A. Harris, the town’s new operations manager, told the commission she had arranged a meeting between Aquarion officials and neighbors on Aug. 16 to discuss the utility’s plans.

Still, several of them spoke out against the plan along with their newly hired attorney, Alan R. Spirer of Westport. He argued that the application was in violation of the town’s zoning regulations.

While no straw vote was taken, several commissioners indicated they were leaning to approval of the application.

“I’m convinced it’s the best option,” said Chair Catherine Walsh. Added Commissoner Chip Stephens: “I’ve got to salute Aquarion … it’s a step way ahead of what the worst case scenario could be.” Both at the same time expressed sympathy with the neighbors’ concerns.

Stephens repeatedly mentioned that Aquarion was being acquired by Eversource Energy. He said there was no guarantee under new ownership the plan might revert to be less favorable in the eyes of neighbors and the town.

Aquarion has said it needs the new tanks to replace a 1.5 million gallon tank at the site due to increased demand for water in Westport.

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Posted 09/08/17 at 08:56 AM  Permalink



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