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Letter: Zoning Still Key

To the Editor,

In January of 2017 the future of the Country Club of Woodbridge (CCW) still remains unsettled.  With the departure of Billy Casper Golf in December, the course stands empty, and plans for open space are uncertain.  Now is the time to give this exceptional 155 acres the vision and care it should have received over the past seven years.

In 2009 the residents of Woodbridge voted (435-34) to purchase the property to keep it from development.  A 2011 proposal by Toll Brothers to build 54 townhouses on 17 acres of the golf course was soundly rejected by the townspeople.  Since then Toll Brothers has been invited back by the administration with proposals ranging from 69 units on 36 acres to 170 units on 70 acres.  In public comment at countless Board of Selectmen’s meetings as well as at special meetings on CCW, residents have spoken out clearly and vehemently against development and the zoning change it would entail.  While the First Selectman continues to favor development, it is shameful that she has never acknowledged the @ 400 voters who signed a petition against zoning change on this property.

No matter the acreage or the number of units, condos/cluster housing built by Toll Brothers or any other developer will never be right for CCW.  It is the strength of our zoning that has preserved the rural character which is the hallmark of our town.  If you break the back of that protection by changing the residential zoning to allow condos on CCW, you will invite vigorous and costly litigation for development on other large parcels of land throughout the town.  In 2013 and 2016, Town Attorney Gerry Weiner solicited legal opinions from attorneys Shansky and Grogins on the potential results of zoning change at CCW.  Those opinions were essentially useless vague promises.  Even the First Selectman said that no attorney can guarantee a particular outcome.  Therefore, the best, certain protection for this property and the town’s future is to maintain the current residential zoning.

Perhaps, we should go one step further and put a conservation easement on the whole 155 acres.  Recently, Ms. Scalettar said she would not consider a proposal for the property that did not include a conservation easement.  Roland Betts’ 2016 Redan Reserve proposal to purchase and redo the whole property as a “top 100 golf course” included a conservation easement to protect the land in perpetuity.  Although Mr. Betts’ offer is no longer on the table, residents should be offered the opportunity to vote on a conservation easement to protect this unique property forever from development.

Martha German

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