Again, and again, and yet again… as it has been for the past 19 years, Save Old Saugatuck feels the jaws of defeat. This time the “defeat” is the June 1st decision from Judge Marshall Berger that is in favor of Felix Charney, allowing him to proceed in building his folly of 157 apartment units on Hiawatha Lane Extension… wetlands and all.
Yes, as the news would report that day, this would appear to be a defeat for the community of Old Saugatuck .
Yet... we are here now once again ready to snatch our own “victory from the jaws of defeat”.
A close analysis by the SOS attorney of the findings in Judge Berger’s decision, would show the Judge's decision to be weak enough, flawed enough, and sufficient enough to warrant an immediate and vigorous appeal. During a conversation on Friday our attorney relayed that the merits of an appeal were convincing and justifiable. (Read the decision dated May 31, 2022 HERE.)
We have come too far to simply relinquish our sincere efforts and the many successes we have achieved, especially while there are viable pathways to further success that are still within our reach. Our chances of success today are like all the chances we’ve continuously embraced for nearly twenty years. We’ve gone ahead each time and achieved many wins. We still remain an affordable working class neighborhood. We still remain a community with history… and hope. We still remain committed to stopping something so very wrong.
The good news is that once an appeal is filed the appeal process give us from 12 to 18 months to present our case, hear a response, and then proceed with any and all steps in between. And in the meantime, this puts a hold on any further building efforts... giving us ALL some time; time to to consider further options and a little time to breathe.
Our biggest challenge now is continuing to fund the legal efforts of our attorney for this next round of the processes. I wish I could say that money was no object, but the reality is that it is indeed, a very important object that is necessary to continue our efforts - efforts that have for two decades helped to preserve our dear, charming, and beautiful community... and efforts that will continue to fight for the best possible solutions to preserve that. Our goal is to raise $50,000. This will cover the current balance owed plus the appeal process.
Will you join in and play a part in meeting this challenge? Would you please commit to making a contribution to help fund this SOS appeal of the Berger decision? A contribution of any amount helps and is greatly appreciated! You may contribute via PayPal HERE (Credit and debit cards are accepted) or by check (See mailing address below).
Most of all, please know that during all these many years it has been your advice, your encouragement, and your support that has provided the energy and strength to SOS to continue on, to continue to hold off this predatory developer, to continue to support our beloved community.
Let’s get it done.
While we wait another week for a decision from Judge Berger, here is a recent CT Insider article focusing on our efforts to save our neighborhood.
To read the article, click HERE.
Remember… we’re a community not a commodity.
At this point we are deeply aware that the future of our Old Saugatuck neighborhood has been entrusted to a wonderful and immensely capable Attorney. But along with all of us, he too must now wait for the judge’s legal decision as to the next step and the direction of this case.
Summit Saugatuck and Felix Charney want to deny us a court trial by asking for a summary judgement. It is the judge, who solely has to decide on this request, and for the past six weeks, our community has been waiting. I don’t measure the anxiety level anymore.
So the next SOS email should have news as to the decision from Judge Marshall Berger.
While SOS is presently in a “holding pattern” we face the reality that the battle is far from over…
In the meantime with all that we foresee, I believe fully that you understand my personal request of you to give your dollars to SAVE OLD SAUGATUCK is really asking for your investment to help end the land-use abuse by Summit’s Felix Charney. Charney invokes the State Housing 8-30g statute to justify his gross manipulation of its intent and purpose. This is a developer, who ignores all the reasons that call for not building his proposed project on Hiawatha Lane Extension. This is a developer, who chooses to ignore all communications and accommodations that could make the Hiawatha Lane Extension project a legitimate 8-30g concept at work for this community, and for the benefit to the Town as a whole.
So many good people have helped SOS with contributions that fueled our 18 years of battles won against Summit and Felix Charney. Now, here in year 19, I ask you to step up again at this critical moment. This is the test of our time, commitment, and money.
Friends, residents, property owners, and supporters,
A New Year is upon us!
I'm relieved to close-out this tumultuous year for SAVE OLD SAUGATUCK/SOS on a hopeful and positive note. Thank you for all your support throughout the past few years.
Here’s an update for you heading into 2022.
2021 marks a definite transition year for SOS. We began the year with a strong, 18-year record of official Town support for this neighborhood in our determination to stop a predatory developer. That support suddenly ended in the Spring of 2021.
We now know that in early 2021, the Town Attorney for Westport entered into an unexpected, surprising "settlement" that gave the green-light for developer Felix Charney to build 157 apartment units on the short, private street, Hiawatha Lane Extension.
This is the same street where some 70 years ago, neighborhood residents were given replacement housing because their former homes, located only a hundred feet away, were directly in the path of a new 1950 federal highway construction project known today as I-95.
And as each new resident began moving to houses on this street, they each agreed to a "deed restriction" for their property. An agreement that the home remain a single-family house. They knew that the fragile condition of the land required this for preservation. They knew the area had a history of wetlands. They knew this agreement was a protective shield.
As a result, every one of the 19 houses on Hiawatha Lane Extension has a deed restriction that every one of the owners acknowledged with their signature 70 years ago.
Of course, all subsequent changes in home ownership for any of those 19 homes saw the single family house deed restriction continue to go forward onto the new owner's deed. That on-going restriction continues to provide on a daily basis critical land use and environmental protection.
At some point in the middle of 2021, an extraordinary event changed everything for SOS in a wonderful way that gratified us and gave new meaning to the term, "community support".
Individuals including many from other Westport neighborhoods beyond Old Saugatuck, recognized the danger and unfairness of the "settlement" with Felix Charney.
As a way to help the Old Saugatuck neighborhood they secured the services of respected land-use attorney Joel Green, and then they secured the funding for the retainer fee of $25,000 to begin the legal challenge to immediately halt construction. The understanding and generosity of these actions have touched the heart of this neighborhood, and enabled us to continue the fight.
SAVE OLD SAUGATUCK/SOS now has the chance to fight on many more days, with the goal of achieving a Court issued injunction to permanently stop construction of 157 apartment units on Hiawatha Lane Extension.
The request for an injunction is based on the presence of the 19 deed restrictions that call for only single family houses on Hiawatha Lane Extension.
The court filings have been fast and furious. I've read every document so far so if you have any question don't hesitate to get in touch with me.
Here is a link to all the 'Miriam, Selma v Summit Saugatuck LLC' Court filings so far. Click HERE, then scroll down to "Motions / Pleadings / Documents / Case Status" where you can click on and then read each one to familiarize yourself with progress to date.
You'll see that dates for Court hearings are already set for early January, 2022. Hearings will be done remotely.
Now A Critically Important Part:
Within the past few months, an enormous amount of work and research by Attorney Green and staff has prepared us for our first Court hearings on January 5, 2022.
The initial retainer has been spent on this intensive preparation, and now we need to replenish the fund.
The challenge now is to raise another $25,000 - and hopefully you can help. A contribution in any amount will truly help and is greatly appreciated (Contribute via PayPal, credit or debit cards with the "Make a Contribution" button at the top or bottom of this webpage. Checks may be sent to address at the bottom of this webpage).
I am very conscious of the economic strains many of us may be experiencing at this time. I join you in that experience and it is with this awareness that I ask you to simply weigh this request for your help in light of what saving our homes and history will mean to our neighborhood and beyond. With Attorney Green presenting these new and compelling arguments, we have another chance to preserve our dear community... another chance to stay a beloved community - and not be a mere commodity.
Wishing all best to you in the New Year.
Today we report some very good news.
With this link ( https://www.dropbox.com/s/yju2bnmrr3n34bb/SUMMONS-COMPLAINT.pdf?dl=0 ) you will find an 11-page document that says to all Westport Town officials - both appointed and elected - that even though the Town Attorney for Westport gave up on the 18-year consistent, winning effort to SAVE OLD SAUGATUCK/SOS, and urged both elected and appointed officials to also betray this historic community, the residents and property owners in this special neighborhood will not be pronounced dead.
The overwhelming reality is that the residents themselves (et al) have not given up, even though Attorney Bloom urged Town officials to enter a “settlement agreement” with Developer Felix Charney. An "agreement" that would support this private developer’s plan of constructing apartment buildings with the resulting destruction of homes and history.
Part of the good news is that the residents and property owners in Old Saugatuck found sympathizers through-out the Town, who recognized the abuse and unfairness of these actions against the neighborhood. They reached out with legal and economic help.
As a result, SOS will continue going forward despite experiencing such a devastating blow.
Think “Phoenix from the Ashes” or “Lazarus from the Dead”. We have come back again, to fight once more for the life of this neighborhood.
Attorney Joel Green has our back and his officially-filed complaint gives SOS another path towards stopping Developer Felix Charney and Attorney Tim Hollister.
And now we ask if any reader of this message can find it in their heart and in their wallet to contribute some precious dollars to supplement and strengthen our funding. ("Contribute Now" button, at bottom of page, below)
Many of SOS readers know about the P and Z Commissioners’ vote to give up on the Old Saugatuck community. 18 years of previous support was suddenly dropped as a number of RTM members bowed to the pressure, and capitulated to Summit Saugatuck LLC/Felix Charney - all because the Westport Town Attorney told them to do so.
Presenting as his reasoning, he painted a bleak, no-win situation directing attention to six pending lawsuits by Charney against the town. Attorney Ira Bloom folded without a fight. He threw away a neighborhood effort that spanned 18 years of successful land-use defense. He threw away an 18-year record of unanimous votes by multiple P and Z commissioners who continuously, and rightfully, rejected the proposed development. And he threw away an opportunity for this historic community of 64 homes to continue to challenge the Summit Saugatuck bully team of Charney and Hollister and their law suits against the Town.
In all his talk of potential gloom and doom (Nothing being a done deal) did he mention what might happen if we were to win... what might the benefits be to the neighborhood; to the Town? No. His "arguments" were all a negative one-way street.
Many of the SOS readers may have listened as RTM members, one after another, lamented the sadness of a “settlement” with these developers, the sadness of what the destruction to a community of homes and history will mean to Westport‘s future. And then, with the exception of two votes, they voted to support the developer - supporting a "deal" made in secret, without any public input throughout the "negotiation".
Was this classism... racism... are we a disposable, out of sight, out of mind location? Why are we the sacrificial lamb?
Check it out everyone... we are here to stay! We’re still fighting. Save Old Saugatuck/SOS is about keeping us together... not tearing apart.
Thanks to Town Attorney Ira Bloom for telling everyone they had no choice (Like Hell...) because of lawsuits that Charney filed - even though Charney lost each and every previous lawsuit throughout the past 18 years.
And thanks to P and Z Chair Danielle Dobin for helping to serve the Kool-aid.
As always, please feel free to call or email Carolanne if you have any questions. info@SaveOldsaugatuck.com
Is this the end of Old Saugatuck in Westport; a special neighborhood of affordable homes and vibrant history?
This is our toughest battle yet to SAVE OLD SAUGATUCK from a developer who is using lawsuits to destroy our community.
This is all he can do because he cannot win on Westport’s land use rules and regulations for his proposed nightmare project. He tried for 18 years and lost every time. What does that say?
He doesn’t care one bit about the damage he is inflicting. What does that say?
So your voice is critical.
You can support SOS with your comments during the “public hearing” on Wednesday, May 12, at 7:00 PM.
The first part of the meeting starts at 6:30 PM, but more important is the public hearing section which is at 7:00 PM. So here, below, is the ZOOM or phone in information that you will need.
Keep alert that you may only have a few minutes to make your statement if there are a lot of comments to be heard.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
III PUBLIC MEETING PORTION
ZOOM remote participation instructions (Be aware, this is a different link than what is indicated for the 6:30 portion of the meeting.
Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81658416015...
Dial in via telephone:
+1 646 876 9923
Meeting ID: 816 5841 6015
1. Potentially Vote on Pending litigation: Summit Saugatuck LLC v. Westport Planning and Zoning Commission (Docket No. HHD-CV19-6120090-S), for a 157- Unit Affordable Housing Development and other terms.
2. Potentially Vote on Pending litigation: Cross Street LLC v. Westport Planning and Zoning Commission (Docket No. HHD-CV18-6103065-S)
The last few SOS email alerts addressed our concern about all the Westport P and Z “executive sessions” these past few months to discuss the Hiawatha Lane Extension project with Developer Felix Charney.
Well, now the P and Z Commission has finally decided to announce a “Public Meeting” for this Wednesday, May 12, starting at 6:30 PM on ZOOM, with the public hearing section at 7:00 PM.
JOIN THE 6:30 PM ZOOM MEETING WITH THIS LINK: https://www.westportct.gov/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/22997/1176
JOIN THE 7:00 PM PUBLIC HEARING SECTION of the ZOOM MEETING WITH THIS LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81658416015?pwd=SDFkRkFHTzJTOE9EMllTU2Y3bDUzdz09&fbclid=IwAR2ah_X4CTfBeqxhzNQS4nJaVMQbF2N4pcYKwHreIDpVIILgyY-eIzJdbDU
This meeting should provide the reasons why the P and Z decided to hold negotiation meetings with this developer.
This meeting is a specific public meeting that will determine our future as residents in this neighborhood.
This meeting is going to shape up to become one of the most critical P and Z meetings in the history of this Town.
This meeting will affect an entire historic neighborhood of Old Saugatuck, with its 64+ housing sites on all eight streets.
We are at immeasurable risk today as never before. We face losing all that we have successfully fought for in stopping developer Felix Charney of Summit Saugatuck LLC from introducing his overwhelming of-out-of-scale sized apartment buildings and generating the unprecedented chaos that will follow.
Apparently we are at risk of having all this occur in the wake of a recent State Superior Court Judicial decision in favor of the developer.
Look at this picture (Above) listing the current court cases that form the basis of the legal attacks that Summit Saugatuck LLC is waging against the Town of Westport.
Did the Town look at the cost involved in appealing the decision of one judge? What was the estimated cost of mounting a legal defense? Was the cost too high?
Could the Town not look beyond the dollar cost and summon the leadership and courage to act in the best interests of her constituents, taxpayers, and voters?
The dual force of both State agencies (Housing and Judicial) along with the addition of all Summit’s litigation acting against the Town of Westport, will wipe out all of the past 18 years of intelligent and land sensitive decisions affecting Old Saugatuck.
More details tomorrow on the ZOOM meeting.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Dear Neighbors, Residents, Home Owners, Friends and Supporters of SAVE OLD SAUGATUCK/SOS,
At this point, most readers know that for the past 18 years the Westport Planning and Zoning Commission has fully supported residents and property owners in the Old Saugatuck community (Eight small streets with 64 home sites).The Save Old Saugatuck/SOS launched a community-wide effort to save this specifically unique neighborhood of families, homes, and history from the destructive proposal repeatedly put forth by developer Felix Charney during the same 18-year framework. This repetitious submission has been in the form of proposals addressing the “development” of Hiawatha Lane Extension. Charney has been trying to secure approval from Westport’s many different P and Z Commissioners elected throughout the 18-year time frame. Consistently and unanimously, the P and Z Commissioners voted to reject this nightmare of a land use proposal. Continuously the feedback through P and Z has affirmed trust in the research, homework, and examination of the neighborhood’s needs, and resulted in P & Z’s unequivocal support of the goals that this modest working-class community of single-family housing has expressed… to stay in their homes.
We know that Charney is intent on demolishing, destroying and completely disappearing any reminder or semblance of the Old Saugatuck community. He will replace every aspect of Old Saugatuck’s single-family homes with rental apartments. His first project is designed with as many as five buildings, each up to four stories high. Get the picture? This is just a start; he has set his intentions on redeveloping the rest of the entire Old Saugatuck neighborhood. (See pics. of these plans below).
During these past 18 years, the elected members of the P and Z Commission have shown solid support for Old Saugatuck with each vote a unanimous rejection of Charney’s proposed “development”; a proposal that would bury this neighborhood forever… So… given that history… why this sudden, shocking, and surprising news: the current P and Z Commission Chair appears to have done an “about-face” disintegrating the level of support for Old Saugatuck to a level that is now deeply concerning.
The P and Z Chair is entertaining or attempting negotiations with Charney. Secret meetings around this idea have been ongoing for several months. There has been no outreach or alert to the residents of Old Saugatuck. It appears that P and Z is abandoning the community. Why this action now? Why is the P and Z Chair suddenly willing to put the future of Old Saugatuck at risk? Perhaps there is a conflict.
Please look carefully at the three Charney illustrations below to see the three-part intended development plan for Old Saugatuck that would affect ALL eight streets and ALL 64 home sites.
Again, we ask…. Why is there a change at this time? And why have we not been informed?
We need to express our anger and disappointment.
We need to find out why there is consideration to “negotiate” and put our collective efforts into stopping that action with a firm public response.
Please feel free to pass this along to anyone in the Westport community at large. This proposed development WILL have a far-reaching effect beyond the Old Saugatuck neighborhood, with impact on emergency and public services, and traffic throughout the area.
Please send an email message to the P and Z Commission Chair,
Danielle Dobin at Danielleforpz@gmail.com
Call her at 203-341-1030
Connect via the P and Z contact page here: https://is.gd/aVFoxi
Hiawatha Lane Extension Destruction
Please immediately end all negotiations with developer Felix Charney.
Please Save Old Saugatuck.
Help Save the Historic Saugatuck Community of Westport, CT.
Your contribution today helps to make a difference.
AUGUST 3, 2022
A ritzy looking "invitation" to hear a "Construction Plan" presentation was recently sent from Peter Romano to multiple homeowners in Old Saugatuck. Romano heads up LandTech and he is a certainly a well-known name and a well-liked individual in our Saugatuck area. (Read the accolades in Dan Woog's 06880 blog columns)
Perhaps that is why it is very disappointing that Romano would contract his professional services to Felix Charney, the developer who plans to destroy and disappear our community of homes here in Old Saugatuck. Ironically this neighborhood is where perhaps the Romano family history had its own start. Many may wonder why Romano is a willing partner to Charney's plans from Hell. Most realistically and most probably this is simply for the money.
Peter Romano certainly knows how wrong this proposed project of 157 rental apartments at the end of Hiawatha Lane Extension will turn out to be.
At 10:00 AM this Saturday morning, August 6th, Romano expects that he will present the Kool-aid in the form of a project "Construction Plan". A plan that everyone knows is a thorough and comprehensive "Destruction Plan"...
of the land
of the environment
of the soil
of the wetlands
and the end of an affordable, historic single home community that helped build all of the Westport we know today.
That's the reality.
So to all who are curious, cautious, and concerned about hearing this latest assault on our neighborhood, go and listen to Romano's presentation at the end of Hiawatha Lane Extension, on Saturday. Listen and ask questions. Take notes. And if you want me to ask the question(s) for you, let me know. SOS has a lot of practice after 19 years fighting off the danger this project represents.
And then get yourself back up to 27 Hiawatha Lane Extension (at the beginning of the street), where you will have the opportunity to say hello to other SOS Supporters as we take a few moments with each other to make our own "Celebrate SOS Saturday".
I'll be very glad to hear to hear your thoughts and suggestions, and also to give you an update on our SOS legal effort.
AUGUST 8 2022
The familiar awareness that “material wealth” for many means their automatic claim to intelligence, while at the same time they do not necessarily accept that the individuals who are “struggling from payday to payday” posses an equal claim to intelligence.
This assumption was quite apparent this past Saturday, August 6th, when a new set of faces from Summit Saugatuck LLC, met with residents to discuss “construction plans” for the 157 apartment units proposed to go up in their backyard.
Summit shouldn’t have been surprised at the reception from the residents; they shouldn’t have been so condescending, and they shouldn’t have insulted the genuine collective intelligence of the residents with dismissive remarks and telling everyone that the project is going forward.
How’s that for a new definition of "working together"?
Check out this Westport Journal article covering the event HERE.
In the meantime, we continue with our legal efforts to amend and/or hault this out-of proportion monstrosity, and as always, we appreciate your support.
Our neighborhood is a community - not a commodity!
Your continued support is appreciated. Contribute online via PayPal, debit or credit card HERE, or send a check to the address, shown at the bottom of this page.
This is literally an emergency SOS moment.
I received a note from our excellent Attorney Joel Green, who states he cannot move forward with the Appellant Court brief due on December 15 with the present outstanding balance.
Attorney Green’s note to us says: “Respectfully, if there is not enough interest in this cause to fund it (any further), we will agree to withdraw the appeal or move to withdraw our appearance. Otherwise, the balance needs to be paid immediately…and arrangement to pay anticipated fees going forward. We are willing to work with you, but we all have to share the burden and be in this together…”
The current balance is $23,129.89
I’ve been hoping contributions would filter in… I know times are tight, and it’s the holiday season… but sadly our deadline is here now and I’m left with no other choice but to reach out. It now has become a measure of funding that will determine whether or not we are able to go forward in our effort to succeed in SAVING OLD SAUGATUCK.
And so, we ask for you, dear reader, to please contribute whatever you can to help SAVE OLD SAUGATUCK. Many individuals have been there for this community, with encouragement, support, and financial funding. I am grateful. And I wish that would have gotten us to the finish line… but the reality is, this process takes time, and money… And what happens here will effect this entire community forever… I believe that alone is worth the effort and expense, but I need your help to ensure a just and right outcome for everyone in our neighborhood.
Some twenty years ago we first learned about Felix Charney, a developer who had a grandiose vision of taking over ALL of the eight-street, 64-home historic community of low to moderate priced single-family homes that comprised the neighborhood of Old Saugatuck, the most affordable residential neighborhood in Westport. His three-part project focuses first on destroying the 20 houses on Hiawatha Lane Extension, and then the plan continues on in two other stages to include the entire neighborhood.
In 2021, we saw the Town of Westport bullied into discarding its 18 years of support of our neighborhood - support that might have stoped or contained the out-of-proportion and destructive plans of Felix Charney.
The Town used the expression “We arrived at a settlement with the developer”, basically approving everything that was wrong with this project. They made our neighborhood a scapegoat and abandoned our community.
Having exhausted all of the P & Z avenues, and out of desperation to save my home, and our neighborhood - a Hell of a good case - we made the decision in July 2021 to engage the help of an attorney. We’ve been able to hang on for the last 17 months… and truly believe we have a solid last chance with this appeal. I only hope it is not too late.
I am asking you to please call or text me (203-227-3573)
Residents opposing an affordable housing project on Hiawatha Lane are seeking more than $23,000 ahead of the project's next court appearance this week to allow the legal challenge to continue.
CT Post article HERE.
2023! A new year is beginning and our hearts are overwhelmed with gratitude for each of you who offered your encouragement, support, and contributions to help keep alive our 20+ year long effort to preserve the integrity of this neighborhood we all so dearly love.
It is because of you we are able to continue with legal counsel and file the paperwork with the court to continue on with our precedent setting litigation.
Saugatuck is an intimate, friendly, diverse, wonderful community and we are devoted to doing what we can to help preserve that.
We wish you all a healthy, bright, happy new year... full of good news and good neighbors!
With appreciation and thanks.