THE EAST SIDE OF WESTON
Country living at its best!  Check out our draft "existing land use 2008" for this part of town here!

Breaking news...


Background on space here.

MORE NEWS:
http://www.thewestonforum.com/12437/open-house-at-emmanuel-church-for-proposed-senior-center/

At Selectmen for possible relocation of Senior Center...
http://www.thewestonforum.com/12250/weston-seniors-may-get-new-home-at-emmanuel-church/




At P&Z for regulation modification:
http://www.thewestonforum.com/12275/farm-stands-may-open-in-weston-while-pz-reviews-regulations





CARTBRIDGE AND VALLEY FORGE
Weston FORUM photos: Bridge engineer inspecting Cartbridge after the flood, new design and
street sweeper clears debris as it crosses the now open Valley Forge bridge.

Valley Forge bridge is now open in Weston
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 10:15


After almost a year of having to detour around it, drivers may once again cross the Saugatuck River using Weston’s Valley Forge bridge. Just south of the Saugatuck Reservoir, the bridge reopened to traffic on Friday morning, March 11.

Construction work to replace the bridge closed it to all traffic in April 2010.

The bridge opening had been put off because of delays in the manufacturing of bridge rails and the installation of guardrails along the sides of Valley Forge Road near the bridge. Guardrails had been removed when the bridge and portions of the road were reconfigured.

The first person allowed to drive over the bridge after the last guardrail had been installed was Phyllis Gary, who documented the bridge replacement from practically day one.

“The crew said I had been such a part of the project by being here pretty much every day,” they said she could be the first to drive over it, Ms. Gary said. “They were such nice people and they treated me so well,” she said of the workers from Guerrera Construction and the DOT supervisor who oversaw the project.

Over the course of the past year, Ms. Gary took literally thousands of pictures of every step of the project. “It’s my fervent hope I can get them into the historical records of the town,” she said. “It was truly an amazing engineering feat.”

She plans to put together a historical retrospective including pictures and information on how the original bridge was dismantled and the new one put up. She said she wants people to remember how much work went into it, all the equipment that had to be brought in, and how much concrete and rebar was used to create the bridge.

“It was an extraordinary thing to be able to document it. I learned so much about bridge building,” Ms. Gary said. “But the whole point is to be able to share this with the community.”

Long time in the making

The Valley Forge bridge replacement is the second such project for the town in the last three years.

The town had been looking to replace the Valley Forge bridge since 1999.

Permits finally were in place and construction was set to begin in the summer of 2007, but plans were halted after a nor’easter struck New England in April of that year.

The storm destroyed the Cartbridge Road bridge, so the town put the Valley Forge bridge replacement project on hold until Cartbridge bridge could be replaced. That project was completed in October 2008.

Once the Cartbridge project was finished, things started moving ahead with the Valley Forge bridge.

But the project hit another snag in 2009 when the Planning and Zoning Commission initially denied an 8-24 planning approval for the bridge because the town did not submit an A-2 survey.

However, after a Town Meeting vote required the submission of an A-2 survey, P&Z quickly approved the project.

Work begins

Work began on the Valley Forge bridge in April 2010. Including architect and design fees, the total estimated cost of the bridge replacement project is about $2.4 million, with 80% of the costs being reimbursed through state grants.

The original bridge was built in 1938 and consisted of a single 48-foot clear span concrete arch supported by a concrete foundation.

In addition to rebuilding all the foundations and abutments and replacing the bridge with precast concrete spans, the project also included creating better street alignments and sight lines by straightening an S-curve in Valley Forge Road.

Construction was virtually complete in December, but the bridge could not open to traffic because of delays in the manufacturing of bridge rails and guardrails.


Guardrails will delay opening
Weston Forum
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 11:51

After putting arched concrete spans into place across the Saugatuck River to create the Valley Forge bridge, construction workers last week back-filled and “flattened” the bridge by covering it with a layer of sand (to protect the concrete) then compacting 1.25-inches of gravel. —Phyllis Gary photo

Most of the work on the Valley Forge bridge replacement has gone according to schedule, but an unexpected delay in getting guardrails will likely delay the bridge’s opening by more than a month.

“Things were looking good and going quite smooth and uneventful until late last Thursday [Nov. 4],” said Tom Landry, town administrator, earlier this week.

It was Nov. 4 that Mr. Landry learned that the bridge on Valley Forge Road across the Saugatuck River just south of the Samuel Senior Dam will not open to traffic on — or even close to — Dec. 6 as originally scheduled.

Mr. Landry said Guerrera Construction, the contractor in charge of the bridge replacement project, found out last week from its supplier of bridge rails that it will be much longer than anticipated before the needed materials arrive in Weston.

The guardrails on the bridge are significant because of the way the bridge was designed, Mr. Landry said. “The walls are really low so you can look through the opening and see the river below — that was done on purpose,” he said. Because of that, however, the guardrails “have to be pretty substantial to protect motorists from going over the edge,” Mr. Landry added.

The guardrails are manufactured to the precise specifications of the bridge, and so the company that makes them does not begin manufacturing them until the bridge span is finished and in place. “That just happened about 10 days ago [on Oct. 29],” Mr. Landry said.

Guerrera was aware of that before construction began. What came as a surprise was the length of time it will take to manufacture those guardrails. “It’s going to be a couple months longer than they first thought,” Mr. Landry said.

In fact, Guerrera told the town their supplier said it would be about 10 weeks before the guardrails are completed and ready to be installed on the bridge. That means instead of opening the first week of December as originally planned, traffic will most likely not be allowed to cross the bridge for another six weeks, putting the opening sometime in mid- to late January.

Good news

Most of the work on the Valley Forge bridge has gone according to schedule, but guardrails scheduled to be installed are going to take about 10 weeks longer than expected to manufacture. —Phyllis Gary photo

The good news is that almost all other work on the bridge can continue as planned— but that’s also what makes it frustrating, Mr. Landry said.

“They can still do just about everything else to get it done and make it ready to take traffic... You could walk across it now, it’s level ... but we wouldn’t dare let anyone across it without guardrails.”

The Valley Forge bridge replacement is the second such project for the town in recent years.

The town had been looking to replace the Valley Forge bridge for nearly seven years. Permits finally were in place and construction was set to begin in the summer of 2007, but plans were halted after a nor’easter struck New England in April of that year.

The storm destroyed the Cartbridge Road bridge, so the town put the Valley Forge bridge replacement project on hold until Cartbridge bridge could be replaced. That project was completed in October 2008.

Once the Cartbridge project was completed, things started moving ahead with the Valley Forge bridge.

But the project hit another snag last year when the Planning and Zoning Commission initially denied an 8-24 planning approval for the bridge because the town did not submit an A-2 survey.

However, after a Town Meeting vote required the submission of an A-2 survey, P&Z quickly approved the project.

Work began on the Valley Forge bridge in April of this year. Including architect and design fees, the total estimated cost of the bridge replacement project is estimated at about $2.4 million, with 80% of the costs being reimbursed through state grants.

Pleasant surprise

Despite some frustrations, Mr. Landry said there is one thing about which he is pleasantly surprised. “Between Cartbridge and Valley Forge, that’s about $3.5-million worth of bridges, and we’ve been able to cover that without going to a bond issue,” he said.

Instead, the town applied for and received state and federal grants to cover much of the cost — grants are paying for about 80% of the costs for Valley Forge, and about 70% of the Cartbridge project.

In addition, over the years leading up to construction, the town — after a Town Meeting vote approved it — had put money aside in a bridge account. “So when it came time to replace [Cartbridge and Valley Forge], we already had the money sitting there to do it.

Despite some set backs, overall, Mr. Landry said the Valley Forge project has gone smoothly. “We’ve had some issues for sure on that bridge, but we were able to work them all out,” he said.

He said he has been “pretty happy” with the construction company. “The state engineers have their own way of doing things, and they do it that way, but they will, on occasion, listen to my suggestions, and I appreciate their cooperation. There have been frustrations with the process, to say the least, but not so much with the people.”

That said, Mr. Landry said he looks forward to the Valley Forge bridge reopening to traffic. Its closure has affected neighbors, school buses, delivery trucks, and fire and emergency services.

“Bridges, when they’re down — it’s a pretty big inconvenience,” he said.


Valley Forge bridge: P&Z grants 8-24 approval
Weston FORUM
Written by Patricia Gay
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 11:59

In a case of the Board of Selectmen v. The Planning and Zoning Commission, both sides have won.

Following a long and sometimes adversarial process, on Monday, Aug. 3, P&Z granted a positive 8-24 review  of the Valley Forge bridge replacement project.  The approval allows the selectmen to send in a grant application to the state for 80% reimbursement of the project, before an Aug. 26 deadline. A positive 8-24 planning review was one of the state’s requirements.  P&Z’s positive review also satisifies a motion approved by voters at a Town Meeting on July 9, directing the selectmen get an A-2 survey and 8-24 review for the project.

To attain a positive review, P&Z hammered out a compromise with the selectmen on Monday night.

P&Z agreed to issue a positive review provided the town conducts title searches on affected properties, and the commission directed the town attorney to resolve any discrepancies revealed by the title searches.  The selectmen do not need any further reviews or approvals from P&Z.

“We do need to get those title searches, it’s not really an option,” said Selectman Glenn Major.

Poor condition

The town has been looking to replace the Valley Forge bridge over the Saugatuck River near the Samuel Senior dam for nearly six years. On Monday, Town Engineer John Conte said the bridge was in poor condition.  The bridge was built in 1938 and consists of a single 48-foot clear span concrete arch supported by a concrete foundation.  Plans call for replacing the bridge and creating better street alignments and sight lines.

Construction was set to begin in the summer of 2007, but plans were halted after a nor’easter struck New England in April. The storm destroyed the Cartbridge Road bridge so the town put the Valley Forge bridge replacement project on hold.  Construction on the new bridge is scheduled to begin in May 2010.

At the review Monday, several concerns and issues were addressed.

The A-2 survey submitted for review was an “A-2 right of way” survey, rather than an “A-2 property” survey. The right of way survey did not depict adjacent properties.

“An A-2 right of way survey only certifies as to the accuracy of the roadbed, whereas an A-2 property survey shows easements, restrictions, and property boundaries,” said Stephan Grozinger, P&Z chairman.

Peter Iffland, the surveyor hired by the town, said a right of way survey was more appropriate for a roadway because roadways are open-ended, whereas a property survey was more appropriate for a parcel of land with definitive boundaries.  To alleviate concerns about adjacent properties not delineated on the right of way survey, the selectmen agreed to do title searches on neighboring properties.

Because the bridge is being moved and the roadway reconfigured in various areas, it could possibly be encroaching on property not owned by the town of Weston. A discussion ensued about restrictions that could be imposed by Bridgeport Hydraulic Company, a predecessor in title of property adjacent to the bridge.  First Selectman Woody Bliss said he addressed this concern with the president of the Aquarion Water Company, Bridgeport Hydraulic’s successor in title, and the president assured him the company would release any restrictions it may have to the property, to allow for the bridge reconstruction.

Another issue involved a driveway leading from the bridge to property owned by the Miller family. The town plans to adjust and repave a portion of the driveway as part of the project.

Mr. Bliss said the town initially believed Aquarion owned the portion of Mr. Miller’s driveway that was being repaved, however, upon further research, he said Aquarion had no interest in the property and that Mr. Miller’s property directly abutted town property.

“That’s good,” Mr. Miller said. “I knew there were no easements involved.”

The final issue, raised by resident Ran McNeil, was whether a portion of the property south of the bridge was restricted for “passive recreation” uses only.  To remedy this question, the selectmen agreed to do a title search of the property, and if there is an issue about passive recreation, they will address it with the adjacent landowner.  After public comment and back and forth discussion, the commission ultimately voted to give the project a positive review.

Mr. Miller thanked P&Z for holding the public hearing and clarifying issues that concerned him. “This is why these reviews are important,” he said.

After the meeting, Mr. Miller said he took exception to statements made by Mr. Major at a previous selectmen’s meeting about notification to the Millers.  At the July 9 Town Meeting, Mr. Miller said he had not been notified that the town was planning to do something to his property. Town officials countered that a legal notice had been sent and the town engineer spoke to Ms. Miller before the town meeting.

“We were not notified that the town was doing anything to our property before the first P&Z meeting. We were only notified by the town engineer two days before the [July 9] Town Meeting that this project would effect our driveway.  There needs to be better communication by the town in these matters when they are doing something to someone’s
property. If any good has come out of this, I hope it is that there will be better communication in the future,” he said.


IT WAS STANDING ROOM ONLY AT THE TOWN HALL MEETING ROOM THURSDAY, JULY 9, 2009 FOR SPECIAL TOWN MEETING...

Previously...
Town Engineer, shown above, pointing at bridge location illustration, is to get confirmation that the structural elements are already accurately drawn to A-2 quality (by the bridge engineer).  P&Z gave a unanimous positive vote on the Flood Zone permission, however...at the Special Town Meeting, such testimony not given by the Town Engineer.  FORUM photo of existing Valley Forge Bridge site above, right.


ENTIRELY NEW VALLEY FORGE BRIDGE:  THE CALL of Special Town Meeting Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 7pm in the Town Hall Meeting Room. 
SIMPLE MAJORITY OF THOSE PRESENT AND VOTING needed for override of P&Z negative 8-24.   Very, very few present supported override - no vote was taken on the wording of the original call.  OPINION:  it was the sense of the meeting that an A-2 survey was needed before the project went any further, and the reworded motion reflected that.  New motion passed by voice vote.


Special Town Meeting suppported the Planning and Zoning Commission's position: 8-24 of Valley Forge Bridge. Those present and voting supported and amended motion re: the need for an "A-2" survey map/new 8-24 to P&Z.  DISCUSSION:  Selectmen Bliss and Weinstein noted funding for this year would be in peril, as the time it takes for an A-2 survey to be done, P&Z to advertise and hold another 8-24 public hearing and if a negative 8-24 results, the time for another Special Town Meeting will most likely run out the clock on this year's deadline for State of Connecticut special "stimulus" package funding or $$ from other sources as well.




Close to the edge of this section of town...

Firefighters battling blaze near Forest Road       
Written by Patricia Gay    
Tuesday, March 24, 2009 

FIRE UPDATE, 4:35 p.m.:  Weston police have arrested Liberato Freitas, 45, of Danbury, a construction worker, in connection with a fire that burned down a house that was being built on Smith Ridge Road.

Mr. Freitas was charged with arson in the third degree, a class c felony,  and reckless burning, a class d felony. He is being held at the Weston Police Department on $100,000 bond.  Police believe Mr. Freitas was burning boxes in the yard near the house when gusting winds spread the fire to the garage. Both the house and garage were destroyed.  The smoldering fire spread to Forest Road, causing three homes to be evacuated. Police said a house at 15 Forest Road suffered damage to the deck and a beam in the rear.  Firefighters remain on the scene at this time in an effort to prevent the fire from spreading. 
The state's Fire Marshal is also on the scene.

ARREST MADE IN FIRE, 3:15 p.m.: An arrest was made this afternoon in connection with this morning's fire.  A worker at a home under construction on Smith Ridge Road, where the fire originated, was arrested and charged with reckless burning, according to Weston Police Chief John Troxell.  Police believe the worker was burning boxes containing roofing materials and the fire spread to the home's garage, eventually burning down the home and spreading as a brush fire.  The worker's name was not yet released. The matter is still under investigation.

FIRE UPDATE, 2:55 p.m
.: A fire which started this morning on Smith Ridge Road appears to be under control, said Weston Police Chief John Troxell shortly before 2:30 p.m.  The chief said a massive effort by firefighters has contained the fire and prevented it from spreading beyond the Forest Road/Ordway Preserve area.

“At this time, we are re-routing school buses that are scheduled to stop on Tannery Road South to a stop on Tannery Road North,” Chief Troxell said.

Otherwise no other bus routes are being changed.  Parts of Tannery Road South, as well as Smith Ridge Road and Forest Road are still closed to through traffic. Steep Hill Road, a major thoroughfare, is open.

Firefighters from Weston and several surrounding towns are expected to stay on the scene for at least three more hours to make sure the fire does not spread.
Three houses on Forest Road, numbers 13, 15, and 17, were evacuated during the fire as a precaution.  The fire was smoky and smoldering, rather than a blaze, and due to gusty winds it spread quickly.

“The deck of the house at 15 Forest Road caught on fire, but firefighters put it right out,” Chief Troxell said.

Two Weston fire volunteers were transported from the scene.  One firefighter hurt his back in the woods, while Walter Dadik, an EMT, was overcome by smoke inhalation.  “The injuries were not serious,” Chief Troxell said.  Chief Troxell said it appeared the fire spread over at least 20 acres of land, including a part of the Ordway Nature Preserve.  “It’s hard to tell where the boundaries are between private and public property because it is heavily forested,” he said.

The fire is currently being deemed suspicious/accidental. The state Fire Marshal’s office and Weston Police Detective Carl Filsinger are conducting an investigation.

BREAKING NEWS: Firefighters have been called from several area towns to help the Weston Volunteer Fire Department battle a blaze that has destroyed a house under construction on Smith Ridge, and forced the evacuation of at least two houses on Forest Road.

Crews from Weston, Redding, Georgetown, Wilton, Westport, Ridgefield, and Easton are still trying to control smoke and flames that are spreading quickly throughout the wooded area due to heavy and gusty winds. It is considered to be a "red flag day," meaning fire conditions are extremely hazardous.

Two houses, 15 Forest Road, owned by David Kane, and 17 Forest, owned by Robert Winslow, have been evacuated. Police escorted occupants from those houses just after noon. The Kane house was completely surrounded with smoke. There were no apparent injuries.

Flames and smoke are appearing in the woods, along the ground and in trees and bushes, throughout the surrounding area, which borders on the Katherine Ordway Nature Preserve. Police are blocking off roads and detouring traffic until the brushfires can be brought under control.
The original fire has been deemed "suspicious" and the state fire marshal has been called in to investigate.

This story will be updated as details emerge.




DEMO OF OLD FIRE HOUSE ON LYONS PLAINS ROAD
An artist’s rendering of the proposed Lyons Plain Firehouse shows new garage bays facing away from the street, which, we understand informally, received the go-ahead and variances from ZBA.


NOTICE:  Board of Selectmen set Monday, October 6, 2008 at 7:30pm in the Town Hall Meeting Room for a Public Hearing prior to the Thursday, October 16, 2008 at 8pm Special Town Meeting to be held, tentatively, at the Weston Middle School Cafeteria...OK BY VOTERS!

Weston OKs up to $900,000 to build a new firehouse       
Weston FORUM
Written by Brian Gioiele    
Thursday, September 11, 2008 

The Weston Fire Department’s dream of replacing the aging, structurally unsound firehouse at its Lyons Plain Road location has moved one step closer to reality.

With a room full of firefighters and emergency medical technicians looking on, the Board of Selectmen voted Thursday to provide a $900,000 “donation” to the fire department, covering half of the $1.8-million estimated cost for constructing a new facility.

The approval — which calls for the town to cover 50% of the project’s price tag, with a maximum expenditure of $900,000 — now goes before the Board of Finance, then, if approved, to a special Town Meeting.
The selectmen’s donation calls for spending $300,000 in each of the next three fiscal year budgets to total the $900,000.

“I look at this as a gift or a donation to the fire department for them to build a new facility,” said Selectman Gayle Weinstein.

Selectman Glenn Major stated he was “100%” behind the new firehouse, but questioned whether the approval could be given Thursday since there were no final cost estimates for the proposed development.

“I’m concerned with the $1.8-million number,” said Mr. Major. “There are no actual bids. We’re looking at the third project in a row without any hard numbers. And for the last two, the final numbers were off significantly.”

First Selectman Woody Bliss said this project differs from work such as the high school auditorium renovation because this is not a town project. Since the auditorium was a town project, the town was required to cover all the cost, but the firehouse is a fire department project that is receiving only a “donation” from the town.

After acknowledging his concerns about the accuracy of the cost estimates presented, Mr. Major joined his fellow selectmen in approving the expenditure. And the vote was met with vocal approval from the crowd.

Timetable

The Lyons Plain firehouse, which serves homes in Weston east of the Saugatuck River, sits on property owned by the fire department. Curtis Gunn, department president, said the hope is for groundbreaking in March, which means any further delays in approvals could hinder the timetable.

With cracks in the floors and walls, leaks, poor heating and ventilation systems, a separating chimney, and decaying cinder block walls to contend with, Mr. Gunn said he is unsure how long the structure will remain safe for occupancy.

“To continue to serve the residents of Weston, the fire department must plan for the future,” Mr. Gunn said. “Ever increasing training requirements and call volume will continue to tax this all-volunteer department. Facilities to accommodate our needs are based on the demands of providing quality public safety service to our community.”

The department has already received approvals from the Planning and Zoning Commission and necessary variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals. But without assured financial assistance from the town, Mr. Gunn said, the department’s plans would be stalled.

“The problem is we’re starting to spend real dollars,” said Fire Capt. Larry Roberts. “We just want an assurance that the town will back us up.”

Mr. Roberts then assured the selectmen that if the project came in at more than the $1.8-million figure, the department would cover the additional cost. And if the project came in at less than the $1.8 million, the town would still be asked to cover only 50% of the total cost.

“The basic fact is the building needs to be replaced due to the fact that the foundation is failing,” said Mr. Gunn.

Built in 1947

The fire department first appeared before the selectmen in October 2007, asking for $900,000 to replace the current fire house, which was originally built in 1947.

The original building uses cinder blocks, a building material now banned from use. And those cinder blocks, in various locations within the building, are crumbling, Mr. Gunn said.

Inside, the main floor of the building’s meeting room has a long, deep crack that runs down the center. Outside, the chimney is separating from the building by more than four inches.

If the building is not replaced and is forced to shut down because of structural problems, Mr. Gunn said, a portion of the town would be left without emergency services close at hand.

“Fire trucks would be dispatched from the Norfield firehouse, meaning a longer response time to get to Lyons Plain, especially with Cartbridge Road out of service,” he said.

While the new plan calls for considerable changes to be made to build a structure that is compliant with building and safety codes, the building footprint would remain the same.

The proposal

The proposed building would be approximately 6,000 square feet, with two stories and garage bays for three vehicles, an increase of one bay. The bays would take up some 2,800 square feet of garage space.

The building would be taller than a residential structure because the fire trucks are nearly 10 feet tall.

In another change, the bays, which currently face Lyons Plain Road and are only several feet from the street, would face the side of the building that opens onto a parking lot. This would allow more room for the trucks to maneuver without going onto the street.

On the second floor of the new building, space would be created above the garage for a training room that would be used for the department’s meetings and social events. On the ground level, there would be room for an office and bathroom as well as the garage bays. And in the basement, there would be space for a gym and workroom. The building would also have an elevator to make it handicapped-accessible.

The new building would also get an exterior facelift and would be remodeled so it resembled a country barn, fitting in with the rural character of the neighborhood. The existing building is gray and nondescript.

Lyons Plain firehouse gets 18 variances from Weston ZBA 
NOTE:  Weston Fire Trucks are WHITE and YELLOW

Although fire trucks might be red, right now members of the Weston Volunteer Fire Department are seeing green.

The department was given the green light by the Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, July 8, when the board granted it 18 variances.  The variances allow for the demolition of a pre-existing, non-conforming firehouse on Lyons Plain Road and construction of a new one.  Curtis Gunn, president of the fire department, said he was happy with ZBA’s decision. “This allows us to move forward with our plan to build a new firehouse. Now we need to focus on the funding,” Mr. Gunn said.

The department would like to break ground for the new firehouse in March 2009.

The town has two firehouses. One is in the center of town on Norfield Road, and the second is located on Lyons Plain Road and serves homes east of the Saugatuck River.  The estimated cost for a new firehouse on Lyons Plain Road is approximately $1.8 million. The fire department has $900,000, half the total cost, available for the project, and has asked the town through the Board of Selectmen to allocate the remaining $900,000 in installments of $300,000 over the next three years.

First Selectman Woody Bliss has said in the past that he supports the Lyons Plain project. “I agree, the firehouse needs to be redone. It needs to be done right,” he has said.

Mr. Gunn said the department will present its plans to the selectmen, as well as to the Board of Finance, in September, hoping the funding will be authorized.

“There is an urgent need to replace the Lyons Plain firehouse before it falls apart or sinks into the ground,” Fire Chief John Pokorny said before the variances were issued.

The building on Lyons Plain Road dates to the 1940s and has had several renovations over the years.  While the existing firehouse has 3,200 square feet, including the garage bays, the new building will measure approximately 6,000 square feet. It will keep within the existing footprint of the current building, but will be taller.  The firehouse is on an undersized lot, and thus needed numerous variances in order to accommodate the new building and parking area.

Variances granted

The 18 variances granted by the ZBA are summarized below and will allow:

1. Construction of a new firehouse on 0.660 acre, being less than three acres.

2. A minimum rectanglular area of coverage on the lot of less than 170’ x 200’.

3. Building coverage in excess of 10% of the site area and combined building and parking coverage in excess of 30% of the site area.

4. Setback of less than 100 feet from the front line, sidelines and back lot line for principal facilities and structure.

5. Setback of less than 50 feet from the front line, sidelines and back lot line for land use.

6. Setback from structure, land uses and facilities of less than 100 feet from the front line and less than 50 feet from the sidelines back parking lot for parking setback.

7. Parking spaces shown on applicant’s site plan to be the total required number of parking spaces.

8. Buffer area to be less than 50 feet in depth or to be not required and to allow the existing natural growth of plants to continue to be the only screening required.

9. Applicant to dispense with the necessity of having to erect a wall or fence providing screening equivalent to an evergreen buffer.

10. Membership in the fire department to be unlimited.

11. Use of the property to be as is, consistent with its obligation to provide fire, emergency, medical, and paramedic services to the people in the town of Weston, as well as the training of firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics.

12. Maximum structure height of 41 feet, six inches, together with a cupola.

13-18. Variances to each and every one of sections 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, and 375 so that they operate to allow the demolition of the existing firehouse and the construction of a new firehouse, new parking plan and new accessways as shown on the applicant’s site plan, without the effect that the resulting new firehouse, its new parking and access plan, size of its lot, and all uses of the same be made conforming to the zoning regulations.


Hot new plan in the works for Lyons Plain firehouse       
Weston FORUM
Written by Patricia Gay    
Wednesday, 11 June 2008 12:10 

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Lyons Plain Firehouse shows new garage bays facing away from the street.

Members of the Weston Volunteer Fire Department are often called on to save buildings from being destroyed.

But there is one building in town they would like to see come down — their own firehouse on Lyons Plain Road. “The building is in really poor shape,” said Weston Fire Chief John Pokorny.

With cracks in the floors and walls, leaks, poor heating and ventilation systems, a separating chimney, and decaying cinder block walls to contend with, the department is proposing to tear the existing firehouse down and put a new one up in its place.

Curtis Gunn, president of the department, said he would like to break ground for a new firehouse in March 2009.

But first there are two obstacles the department has to overcome — funding, and land use approvals.

The Lyons Plain firehouse serves homes in Weston east of the Saugatuck River. The town has a second firehouse in the center of town on Norfield Road

The Norfield firehouse is owned by the town of Weston. But the Lyons Plain firehouse is the fire department’s responsibility because the department is the property owner.

According to attorney George Guidera, who represents the fire department, the Lyons Plain Road property was deeded to the fire department for the express purpose of constructing and operating a firehouse. In the event the property ceases to be operated as a firehouse, title would revert to the heirs of the previous owner. “As long as there is a firehouse on the property, it belongs to the fire department. There’s been a firehouse there for 61 years and there will be a firehouse there for 61 more years,” Mr. Guidera said.

While the town of Weston provides equipment and trucks to Lyons Plain, and some benefits to its firefighters, it does not pay for the maintenance and repair of the Lyons Plain firehouse building. Those costs are borne by the department.

The town also does not pay salaries to the firefighters, as they are an all volunteer service.

Cost

The estimated cost for a new firehouse on Lyons Plain Road is approximately $1.8 million, according to Mr. Gunn.

The fire department has $900,000, half the total cost, available for the project.

“The department knew this expense was coming and has been putting money aside for it for several years,” said Mr. Pokorny. The department’s funding sources have come from donations as well as the proceeds from the sale of property the department used to own on Dillon Pass, he said.

But the department still needs $900,000 more for the project so it is asking the town to help. Mr. Gunn and other members of the department have asked the selectmen to consider allocating $300,000 for the next three years so they can make their goal.

First Selectman Woody Bliss said he supports the project. “I agree, the firehouse needs to be redone. It needs to be done right,” he said.

The fire department’s plan needs to be presented to the selectmen as well as the Board of Finance before funding can be authorized, Mr. Bliss said.

Urgent need

Chief Pokorny said there is an urgent need to replace the Lyons Plain firehouse before it falls apart or sinks into the ground. The building dates back to the 1940s and has had several renovations done to it over the years.

“What’s now the existing garage is made of cinder blocks and they are in bad shape and starting to crumble in places. I’m not sure if the building will last two or five years. It’s becoming unusable,” he said.

Inside, the main floor of the building’s meeting room has a long, deep crack that runs down the center. Outside, the chimney is separating from the building.

The department first considered making repairs to the building, but when the costs were added up, it was just about the same to build a new structure, Chief Pokorny said.

If the building is not replaced and is forced to shut down because of structural problems, a portion of the town would be left without emergency services close at hand. “The response from Norfield to that side of town is pretty long,” said Chief Pokorny.

Mr. Gunn agreed. “Fire trucks would be dispatched from the Norfield firehouse, meaning a longer response time to get to Lyons Plain, especially with Cartbridge Road out of service,” he said.

Mr. Gunn recalled several emergencies in which the Lyons Plain firehouse was the first to respond, including the rescue of a family by boat when a storm flooded the Saugatuck River, and a fire at a home on High Noon Road that was contained to the garage and did not spread to the house. “We saved that home,” Mr. Gunn said.

Same footprint

While the new plan calls for considerable changes to be made to build a structure that is compliant with building and safety codes, one thing would remain the same.

“The new firehouse would have the exact same footprint as the existing one,” said Mr. Gunn.

That means the firehouse, which is only several feet from Lyons Plain road, would not move any closer, nor would it expand in the back or sides. The new firehouse would however, go upwards a bit.

“The existing firehouse is 3,200 square feet. That includes the garage bays and everything,” said Fire Captain Larry Roberts. He said the existing garage bay for the fire trucks takes up about 2,000 square feet.

The proposed building would measure approximately 6,000 square feet. “The new firehouse will have two stories and will include garage bays for three vehicles. The bays will take up about 2,800 square feet of garage space,” Mr. Roberts said.

The height of the building will be taller than a residential structure because the fire trucks are nearly 10 feet tall. “In order to get a truck parked, the first floor needs to be about 13 feet tall just for the vehicles. It’s a necessity to have a taller structure because we can’t make the trucks any shorter,” Mr. Roberts said.

Another change with the garage bays should result in a major improvement with safety. The bays currently face Lyons Plain Road and are only several feet from the street. This means the fire trucks have to back into the bays by pulling onto Lyons Plain Road.

With the new design, the bays will face the side of the building which opens onto a parking lot. This will allow more room for the trucks to maneuver, without going onto the street. “It is a much safer design,” Mr. Gunn said.

Adding a bay

The design also calls for adding one more garage bay, raising the number from two to three. “This will allow room for an ambulance if needed at the firehouse. The present bays are tight, and one of our trucks barely fits into it,” Mr. Gunn said.

On the second floor of the new building, there would be space created above the garage for a training room that would be used for the department’s meetings and social events.

On the ground level there would be room for an office and bathroom as well as the garage bays.

In the basement there would be space for a gym and workroom. The building would also have an elevator to make it handicapped accessible.

The new building would also get an exterior facelift and would be re-modeled so it resembles a country barn, fitting in with the rural character of the neighborhood. The existing building is gray and non-descript.

Mr. Gunn said he understands the department’s plan needs to be approved by various town boards and he hopes the public will come to those meetings so they can learn more about the project.

“The volunteer fire department saves the town a lot of money. It is one of the best bargains the town has. I hope the town will support this project because time is of the essence for this building,” Mr. Gunn said.


Weston Volunteer Fire Department; New firehouse will take a lot of land use approvals
Weston FORUM
by Patricia Gay
May 30, 2008

The Weston Volunteer Fire Department is going to have to jump over several hurdles before it can replace its existing firehouse on Lyons Plain Road with a new building.  Those hurdles were outlined at a meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday, May 19.

George Guidera, the attorney representing the fire department, said there are several steps the department has to go through before the project passes muster with the town’s land use requirements.  The first step involves resolving a problem with the town’s zoning regulations, he said.

Mr. Guidera said that in 1947, his grandfather donated land on Lyons Plain Road to the fire department for the construction of a firehouse. The property is owned by the fire department, a private entity, and not the town of Weston. The town does, however, provide the department with vehicles and equipment.  The town’s current zoning regulations say firehouses are permitted in residential districts, but special permit approval is necessary, which must comply with the section of the regulations that apply to firehouses.

The problem, Mr. Guidera said, is that in January, P&Z changed its zoning regulations and the section applying to firehouses was removed and incorporated into a new regulation governing municipal-owned buildings.  However, since the Lyons Plain firehouse is not owned by a municipality, the new regulation does not apply to it, and there is no other regulation that pertains to privately owned firehouses.

“When the commission made the change to its regulations, it completely overlooked the fact that the firehouse was not owned by the town,” Mr. Guidera said.  To that end, Mr. Guidera requested that P&Z amend its zoning regulations so privately owned firehouses are included in them.

The commission voted unanimously to set a public hearing date of Monday, June 2, to consider the amendment to the zoning regulations. Stephan Grozinger, a volunteer firefighter, recused himself from all discussion and voting.

Next step

Assuming the commission approves the amendment, Mr. Guidera said the next step is to apply to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a number of variances, because the existing firehouse does not conform to setbacks, height and other requirements.

Then, assuming approval from ZBA on the variances, the next step will be to go back to P&Z for special permit approval, while simultaneously seeking approval from the Conservation Commission, because the firehouse sits within 100 feet of the east branch of the Saugatuck River and falls under that commission’s jurisdiction.

If the hearings on all the applications are held quickly, Mr. Guidera said approvals for the new firehouse could be in place by July. Otherwise, the approval process will be bumped to September because the commissions do not meet in August.  Mr. Guidera said the existing firehouse, built in 1947, is in poor condition and is sinking into the ground.

“The building is built of cinderblock and is long in the tooth,” Mr. Guidera said. He said the department needs a new building badly, and the firehouse is very important to the community because it is the only emergency service facility in that area of town.

The town’s one other firehouse is on Norfield Road in the town center.
 



Emmanuel ultimately received the go ahead!
EMMANUEL SPECIAL PERMIT PUBLIC HEARING BEGINS...
Planning and Zoning holds special meeting (Tuesday at 8pm in the Town Hall Meeting Room) to consider Special Permit application for Emmanuel Church new parish hall. Size of parking lot and coverage as well as safe exit and entry and respect for neighbor the issues.  Also, Emmanuel intends to have a generator and be an emergency shelter opportunity for the East Side of Town.

"About Town" attended in order to see what the application is all about.  New parish hall is to be second in importance to Greek Revival church itself.  But similar in proportion and design.  Public Hearing on this Special Permit application continues on December 3.  Maps must be stamped as "official" and not just for planning purposes, a recommendation of the Town Engineer.


Emmanuel plans for new parish hall
Weston FORUM
by PATRICIA GAY
Nov 20, 2007
 
A model of Emmanuel Church’s proposed new parish hall, left, shows what it will look like after its expansion. —Patricia Gay photo 
After successfully lobbying for an easing of the zoning setback requirements for churches and houses of worship, Emmanuel Episcopal Church is now before the commission with a proposal to build a new parish hall.

In July, P&Z approved a new regulation giving churches and houses of worship wider front and side lot setbacks than they previously had. The regulation also gives the commission discretion in implementing the location and sizes of buffers within those setbacks.

A public hearing on the plan was scheduled to be held by the Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday, Nov. 20. Because the hearing is being held after The Forum’s deadline this week, it will be reported in next week’s Forum.

Intention

The church intends to demolish its existing 7,200-square-foot parish hall, located at 285 Lyons Plain Road, and replace it with a new structure measuring approximately 10,500 square feet.

The new parish hall will have three levels, including a main level where the main greeting room and kitchen are located, a lower level for the nursery school, and a second level for church and nursery school offices.

The hall will be located in the same area where the existing hall is, except it will cover more space. “The existing hall is very much out of date. The new hall will be more handicap accessible and will have an elevator. The nursery school will be brought up to code,” said the Rev. David Feyrer, the church’s pastor.

He said the church has raised close to $1.5 million for the project to date. However, since it has not gone out to bid yet there are no hard fast numbers. “The church is considering both stick built and modular structures and will compare the costs and the benefits of both types,” Mr. Feyrer said.

The hall is used on Sundays for the church’s coffee hour after the service, and is a major facility for the church’s annual fair. In addition, the church operates a nursery school in the hall during the school year.

Impact

One of the concerns raised during the regulation change hearing was the impact the plan will have on its neighbors.

In addition to increasing the hall’s size, the plan also calls for adding five spaces to an existing parking lot, and moving an existing playground closer to the church’s lot lines on Emmanuel Lane, a private road.

At one of the previous regulation hearings, Bill Lomas, who lives on Emmanuel Lane and is also a parishioner of the church, objected to the plan. He said he was concerned that since the new hall would be bigger in size, it would be able to accommodate more people and the buffer zone between the church and his house might not be adequate.

He also expressed concern that reducing the setback requirements could decrease property values.

Mr. Feyrer said the church plans to provide sufficient plantings to effectively buffer the church from Emmanuel Lane. “Our intention is to put in a nice, natural barrier with trees and shrubs, but no fencing,” he said.

He said the parishioners are committed to the project and would like to resolve any issues the neighbors have. 



NOT SO NEW NEWS:  Read stories about FEMA declaring Fairfield County a disaster for things like Cartbridge ("government" only considered eligible)!


Weston's Cartbridge Road bridge is once again open to traffic       
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly    
Thursday, October 30, 2008 

Of the 20 or so people gathered at the official opening of the Cartbridge Road bridge, probably none was happier than Betty Kaye.
“It’s finally done! I’m just thrilled,” she said.

Ms. Kaye and her husband, Seth, live at 1 Cartbridge Road, the property that overlooks the Saugatuck River and the bridge that crossed it — until that bridge was wiped out by a nor’easter nearly two years ago.

Ever since, the Kayes, and their neighbors across the river, have had to drive about five miles out of their way to get from the Lyons Plain Road side of the bridge to the Goodhill Road side.

Not anymore.

Last Friday, Oct. 24, contractors handed over the Cartbridge bridge to the town.

“I came out to look at it, and the only thing not done was the striping,” said Weston First Selectman Woody Bliss. He was assured striping would be done “in the middle of the night,” and sure enough, by Saturday morning, yellow double lines ran across the black asphalt.

On Monday, the town held an official ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the bridge to through traffic. On hand were Mr. Bliss and Selectman Gayle Weinstein; Congressman Christopher Shays, who helped push the bridge project through federal channels; fire and EMS personnel, who led the parade of traffic across the bridge after the ribbon was cut; contractors, engineers, and town employees; and, of course, several residents like Ms. Kaye, who were happy to finally have their road back.

“I’m excited — the bus can actually come to our house now; I don’t have to drive my daughter anymore,” said Lydia Cohen.

Her daughter, Celeste, was invited to cut the ribbon when the time came, an act that was accompanied by the clicking of cameras, the roll of a video camera from Channel 12, and lots of applause.

Afterward, a police car, fire engine, and ambulance led the way across the bridge.

Mr. Bliss said he was pleased with the bridge replacement project. It was just about 18 months from the time the bridge was damaged in April 2007 to its re-opening this week.

Because President George W. Bush declared Connecticut a disaster after the nor’easter that damaged the bridge, the town was able to procure partial funding for the bridge work from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and get the project fast-tracked.

FEMA is paying for 75% of the estimated $1.269-million cost of replacing the bridge. The town will pay the remaining $325,000.

There were some delays along the way, caused by utility poles that had be moved, and ledge rock found shallower than expected when drilling. But overall, Mr. Bliss said, the project was completed more quickly than most, and the timeline was about what he and other town officials expected.

“Next up, Valley Forge bridge,” the first selectman said right after the Cartbridge ribbon cutting.

The town had been about to start construction work on the deteriorating Valley Forge bridge when the Cartbridge bridge was damaged. Not wanting to have two bridges out at the same time, the town delayed work on the Valley Forge one until the Cartbridge one was repaired.


Cartbridge bridge in Weston is a bridge again   
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly    
Friday, October 10, 2008
 
Once again, the Cartbridge Road bridge crosses the Saugatuck River. Traffic, however, will have to wait a few more weeks.
After months under construction, and nearly 18 months after the bridge was damaged in a storm, the east and west banks of the river are again connected. Precast concrete bridge span sections were lowered into place by crane about two weeks ago. Last week, the arches were waterproofed, backfilling began, and a bridge rail was installed.

Tom Landry, Weston town administrator, said backfilling was scheduled to be completed by the end of this week. In addition, removal of the cofferdam was set to begin Wednesday, Oct. 8.

Once drainage work is completed, paving is due to start late next week, followed by striping an installation of a permanent guardrail.

A dry hydrant will also be installed in the river at the bridge site.

Only construction equipment is allowed to cross the bridge at this time. It should be open to traffic by the end of the month, if not sooner, Mr. Landry said.

The bridge has been closed to traffic since it was damaged during a storm in April 2007. Cartbridge Road, when the bridge is operational, connects Goodhill Road with Lyons Plain Road.

Because President George W. Bush declared Connecticut a disaster after the nor’easter that damaged the bridge, the town was able to procure partial funding for the bridge work from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and get the project fast-tracked. FEMA is paying for 75% of the estimated $1.269-million cost of replacing the bridge. The town will pay the remaining $325,000.

Once the bridge work is completed, FEMA will come to inspect it, Mr. Landry said.



THE BRIDGE TO NOWHERE, SO FAR...THAT'S WHY WE CALL THESE THINGS "DISASTERS"

Weston's Cartbridge update: Bridge span to be laid next week       
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly    
Friday, September 19, 2008 

After almost two and one-half months of delays early on, and a few weeks later than predicted at the end of July, work on the Cartbridge Road bridge replacement is expected to be done in just about a month from now.

Tom Landry, town administrator, said everything seems to be “progressing quite nicely” on the project, which is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 24. There is a possibility the bridge will be open to limited traffic about a week earlier than that, Mr. Landry said.

According to the latest revised schedule, four precast concrete bridge span sections are supposed to be delivered and installed sometime before Sept. 25, Mr. Landry said. Finishing touches then include installing several layers of asphalt and striping the pavement.

Damaged

The bridge has been closed to traffic since it was damaged during a storm in April 2007. Cartbridge Road, when the bridge is operational, connects Goodhill Road with Lyons Plain Road.

Because President George W. Bush declared Connecticut a disaster after the noreaster that damaged the bridge, the town was able to procure partial funding for the bridge work from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and get the project fast-tracked. FEMA is paying for 75% of the estimated $1.269-million cost of replacing the bridge. The town will pay the remaining $325,000.



Revised schedule: Contractor says Cartbridge Road bridge will likely open in October       
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly    
Thursday, August 07, 2008
 
A utility pole that stood in the way of progress on the Cartbridge Road bridge replacement project has finally been removed.
The project, originally due to be completed July 2, now has an end date of Oct. 27. But, it will likely be open to at least limited traffic about a month before that.

Complete Construction Company, the contractor replacing the bridge over the Saugatuck River, said in a letter to the town dated July 24 that the replacement schedule has been “negatively impacted 80 working days.”

Reasons for the delay stated in the letter include “unrelocated utility poles,” “higher than anticipated water levels,” and a “stop work order for additional borings.”

Now that some of those obstacles have been overcome (including a utility pole that had to be moved by Connecticut Light and Power after electrical, telephone, and cable TV wires were moved), the contractor has revised its construction schedule “to expedite completion of the project,” the letter states.

The revised schedule calls for the four pre-cast concrete bridge span sections to be delivered and installed between Sept. 3 and Sept. 5; it will open Cartbridge Road to one-way traffic on Sept. 23; and the project will be completed, except for the punchlist, on Oct. 2.

Tom Landry, town administrator, said he is glad to see some progress, but he continues to monitor the project closely. “We’re pushing them pretty hard” to get the bridge opened even earlier — “ASAP” — he said.

Damaged

The bridge has been closed to traffic since it was damaged during a storm in April 2007. Cartbridge Road, when the bridge is operational, connects Goodhill Road with Lyons Plain Road.

Because President George W. Bush declared Connecticut a disaster after the nor’easter that damaged the bridge, the town was able to procure partial funding for the bridge work from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and get the project fast-tracked. FEMA is paying for 75% of the estimated $1.269-million cost of replacing the bridge. The town will pay the remaining $325,000.

First Selectman Woody Bliss said even with the delays, he is pleased with the speed at which the bridge is being put back into service.

“We’ll be done in 18 months,” he said. “...That’s about half the time [the Department of Transportation] told us it would take originally.”

Mr. Bliss credits Congressman Christopher Shays (R-4th) with expediting the project. “He brought in FEMA and has been very supportive,” Mr. Bliss said.

Because the town opted to go with the FEMA reimbursement, rather than the slightly higher (80%) state reimbursement, it was able to avoid many permitting and procedural holdups.

“We gave up 5%, but we got the bridge a year and half sooner. I think that’s good economics,” Mr. Bliss said.

He compared the progress to that of the Wells Hill bridge, which is in Easton, but connects to Wells Hill Road in Weston. “My guess is [Wells Hill] will take twice as long as it took us to do Cartbridge ... roughly as long as the state DOT tells you it will take,” Mr. Bliss said.

Next up

As soon as the Cartbridge project is completed, the town still faces yet another bridge replacement project.

The Valley Forge Road bridge has been listed in “poor” condition. It was due to be replaced beginning the summer of 2007.

The town had to put that project on hold when the Cartbridge bridge was damaged. “We couldn’t have two bridges out of service at the same time. That would have been crazy,” Mr. Bliss said.

Unfortunately, he added, the Valley Forge bridge can’t go out to bid until the Cartbridge bridge is finished, Under state law, bids are only good for 30 days, “so we have to wait until we can be in a position to award a contract,” Mr. Bliss said.

The town likely will accept state aid for the Valley Forge bridge, Mr. Bliss said. It means that the total time to replace the bridge, from engineering work (that has already been done) through construction, is expected to be about three years, not including the delay while Cartbridge has been under construction.

“That’s how long it takes to build a bridge. It just takes time,” Mr. Bliss said.


Building a bridge: CL&P relocates pole at Cartbridge       
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly    
Wednesday, July 16, 2008 

Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) has moved electrical wires from a utility pole that is standing in the way of construction work on the out-of-commission Cartbridge Road bridge. But, as of earlier this week, the pole remains.  The reason is that cable television and telephone wires are still attached to the old pole.

Tom Landry, Weston town administrator, said CL&P began moving its wires on Monday, July 7.  Mitch Gross, spokesman for CL&P, confirmed on Thursday, July 10, that the power company had completed its portion of the work — sort of.

“Our poles and wires have been relocated,” Mr. Gross said. “As soon as we finished our portion of the work, AT&T and Cablevision were notified right away.”

Electrical wires are always located at the top of utility poles. Mr. Landry said once the cable lines (always closest to the ground) and the telephone lines (in between power and cable) are transferred to the new utility pole, CL&P will need to return to remove the old pole.

First Selectman Woody Bliss said this week he was relieved the power lines had finally been moved, but he is still anxious for the project to move along.  He met with the project engineer, Arthur DiCesare, and representatives from the contractor, Complete Construction, at the site last Friday, July 11. “Their estimate was a Sept. 15 completion date,” Mr. Bliss said.

With all the delays the project has experienced in the past year, however, Mr. Bliss is not quite ready to write that date on his calendar in permanent marker. “We’ll see what happens. I’m pressing the hell out of them to just fix it and get it going again,” Mr. Bliss said.

The bridge, which crosses the Saugatuck River, has been closed to traffic since it was damaged during a storm in April 2007. Cartbridge Road, when the bridge is operational, connects Goodhill Road with Lyons Plain Road.

Because President Bush declared Connecticut a disaster in the wake of the nor’easter that damaged the bridge, the town was able to procure partial funding for the bridge work from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and get the project fast-tracked. FEMA is paying for 75% of the estimated $1.269-million cost of replacing the bridge. The town will pay the remaining $325,000.

Plagued by delays

Construction on the replacement bridge began at the beginning of March of this year, and was scheduled to be completed by the end of June, but delays ensued almost immediately.

Work on the east side of the river could proceed only so far because of the utility pole that was in the middle of what is to be the new bridge. The wires on that pole could not be moved until a new one was installed; the new pole could not be installed until easements with neighboring properties were worked out. That included the town signing an indemnification agreement on behalf of one of the neighbors.

Once it looked like the easements were in place, Mr. Landry said, CL&P then claimed it needed to receive “aerial rights” across the Saugatuck because its power lines would be in a new location.

A date was set at the end of June to finally relocate the wires, but it was further delayed when CL&P said it needed more time because it had to get approval from Call Before You Dig, a clearinghouse that provides a communications link between anyone excavating and public utilities that may have underground lines.

Other reasons

The delays have not all been because of the errant utility pole, however.

When the contractor was drilling for footings, it stopped about five feet short of what had been specified in the bridge plans, claiming it had reached bedrock. The engineer disagreed.

As is, the footings that were in place were able to hold nearly three times the weight that is specified for the bridge. The problem lay in a question of adequate “scour protection.”

All drilling stopped around Memorial Day. About a month later, a compromise was reached when the engineer and Complete Construction agreed to put in four additional pilings instead of going to the original depth.  Construction workers were at the site last week and this week, installing the pilings.



Cartbridge: Bridge work hits more roadblocks       
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly    
Wednesday, 11 June 2008 12:14

As they often say in New England, you can’t get there from here.

The old maxim is certainly true for those who were used to traveling on Cartbridge Road, normally a common cut-through between Goodhill and Lyons Plain roads. And it looks as if it’s going to continue to be true until at least the end of the summer.

“At this point, we’ll be lucky if we make it in time for the school buses to start using it again in September,” said Tom Landry, town administrator.

The Cartbridge bridge over the Saugatuck was permanently damaged in a storm more than a year ago — in April 2007 — and has been closed to traffic ever since.

Construction on the replacement bridge began at the beginning of March, and was scheduled to be completed by the end of this month.

“Not going to happen,” Mr. Landry said last week.

There are two main issues holding up the work, Mr. Landry said.

The first is a disagreement between the contractor, Complete Construction, and the project engineer, Arthur DiCesare, about where bedrock begins.

Mr. Landry said when the contractors were drilling for footings, they stopped when they believed they reached bedrock — about five feet short of where they had to be to comply with weight and scour protection requirements.

The engineer said it was just rock, not bedrock, and that drilling should continue. Complete Construction disagreed.

The town hired another firm, Dewberry, to do some test borings. Dewberry recovered core samples at the site and determined the bedrock indeed begins about five feet below where Complete Construction stopped drilling.

However, the contractor still does not believe it is necessary to continue drilling, Mr. Landry said. The footings are required to hold a maximum of 85 tons; at the depth they are now, they would be able to hold about 220 tons, nearly three times what is specified for the bridge.

The problem, Mr. Landry explained, is that for proper “scour protection” — to ensure that the movement of the river bottom doesn’t chip away at the bridge footings — they must drill the additional five feet.

“They’re going to have to figure out how to drill a different way, or they might have to leave the coffer dams at the bottom of the river,” Mr. Landry said. That, however, is a much more expensive proposition for the contractor.

Drilling stopped around Memorial Day, and as of this week, had yet to resume. “We will get this resolved. Eventually,” Mr. Landry said.

Power company

The second major impediment to the bridge work is that Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) has refused to move a utility pole that is in the middle of what is supposed to be the new bridge. Until it is moved, work on that side of the bridge (the Lyons Plain side) is at a standstill.

“CL&P feels there are potential easement issues,” Mr. Landry said.

The good news is that CL&P does have easements for the property onto which it needs to move the pole on the Lyons Plain side of the river, as well as for the property on which a connected pole sits on the opposite bank.

The problem is that in moving the one pole, the angle of the power lines that cross the river and connect to the pole on the opposite bank will change. CL&P claims it needs “aerial rights” once those lines move, and those rights are not specifically stated in the current easement agreements.

CL&P has asked the town to indemnify it against any potential future problems. Mr. Landry said he does not feel it is necessary for the town to do so.

“They’re already there,” he said of the power lines across the river. CL&P says it does not want to be responsible for problems with the lines, but if they are already there, Mr. Landry asked, what’s the difference?

The issue is getting closer to a resolution, Mr. Landry said. Town officials and CL&P representatives had a conference call on June 5, and CL&P agreed to temporarily move the pole. But the company still has to decide whether to run the lines up Riverbank Road and along Cartbridge Road (on the Goodhill side of the river) or to keep them going across the river. So the pole won’t be moved until June 27.

“We don’t really understand what the problem is, and we don’t really care,” Mr. Landry said. “For goodness sake, move the darn pole. I’ve got a bridge to build.”

The contract with Complete Construction said the bridge work had to be done within 150 days of signing, which would be the end of this month.

“We’re definitely not going to hit that date,” Mr. Landry said, but some of that is the power company’s doing, he added. “I think there’s clearly some need for accommodation here,” he said.

Mr. Landry said it is likely the bridge will not be open until the end of the summer. The contractor cannot submit plans for the bridge span, which is built off site, until the current issues are resolved. From the time the plans are submitted, it takes at least five weeks to build the span, he said.


JOINT PUBLIC HEARING
At Selectmen's special meeting on October 4, 2007 at 6pm, Cartbridge two versions shown - new bridge design (see virtual bridge design above) to receive joint meeting review by Conservation and Planning and Zoning later in the month.  See notice below.




Cartbridge Road bridge goes to public hearing
Weston FORUM
by PATRICIA GAY
 Oct 19, 2007

The plan to replace the Cartbridge Road bridge will be reviewed at a public hearing on Monday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. in the Meeting Room at town hall.

The hearing will be conducted jointly by the Planning and Zoning Commission and Conservation Commission.

P&Z will decide whether the bridge meets the standards of Connecticut General Statute 8-24, and the Conservation Commission will discuss floodplain management and the bridge’s impact on wetlands.

Under an 8-24 review, P&Z must decide if the replacement of the bridge is a suitable and appropriate use of town property.

The bridge was heavily damage by flood rains in April and has been closed to vehicular traffic since then.

The proposed replacement bridge will be 9 feet longer than the existing bridge but would remain the same height, said Tom Landry, town administrator. He said it would be made from pre-cast concrete.


CARTBRIDGE BRIDGE - TOWN TO SEEK F.E.M.A. MONEY
by BRIAN GIOIELE
June 13, 2007

With a disaster declaration in hand, town officials are pushing for federal funds to aid in the replacement of the Cartbridge Road bridge, damaged during the April nor’easter that doused the state.

The Board of Selectmen last Thursday, June 7, voted to authorize First Selectman Woody Bliss to make a grant application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) seeking 75% of the cost to replace the Cartbridge Road bridge, repairs of Godfrey Road West at Pent Road, and other related expenses resulting from the mid-April rainstorm.

Town officials have had four separate meetings with FEMA officials in recent weeks regarding the damage, after President Bush declared Connecticut a disaster area because of the destruction caused by the April 15 storm.

Mr. Bliss said he was pleased with the declaration, since it meant Weston would get a share of emergency funds to replace the bridge, which could cost between $600,000 and $800,000, according to estimates.

Officials say that FEMA will reimburse the town for police and public works overtime expenses, the cost of the Jersey barriers they had to place on the bridge, vehicle mileage for trucks and police cruisers during the storm, debris removal costs, and even expenses for meals workers ate while on the job.

Some seek quicker fix

But even this reimbursement opportunity has not stopped some residents from seeking a quicker resolution to the bridge closure.

However, town officials say bypassing the FEMA route still poses potential scheduling roadblocks.

“We could do it ourselves with FEMA aid,” said Mr. Bliss. “It would reduce the time schedule, it would reduce the number of permits required, but it doesn’t get a bridge built this summer.”

Mr. Bliss said that even without the additional permits required with FEMA aid, the town would still need to have hydraulic tests performed before there could be any bridge designs completed. The plans must then go to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for review and approval, a process that could take up to two years.

“I’ve talked to people at DEP, told them about our situation, and was told the process could be done in two to three months, possibly,” said the first selectman. “In the end, there would be a few less permits, but it won’t save us much time.”

The main concern is the traffic troubles on secondary roads in the area of the Cartbridge Road bridge closure. Nearby River Road is being used as a cut-through, and there is also more traffic on Goodhill and Lyons Plain roads, which authorities say are not used to this type of traffic volume.

Police Chief John Troxell said that the Police Commission last week approved a plan to place stop signs at Goodhill Road at River Road, making that intersection a four-way stop. Chief Troxell added that the department will increase its presence on River Road as well in an attempt to slow the increasing traffic on the roadway.

BOARD OF SELECTMEN HOLD REQUIRED INFORMATION SESSION FOR PUBLIC, MAY 17, 2007:
This was planned way in advance for the the Valley Forge Bridge only - 20-30% done with design now, plan is to reroute traffic during construction, (beginning optimistically, April 2008).  A Selectman, we think, asked if under the State Bridge program there was anything like an "emergency" to speed up Valley Forge project, considering that Cartbridge was no longer usable.  The answer from Department of Transportation engineer in charge - "No."

Questions about Cartbridge Bridge kept popping up -  it is to be repaired under the umbrella of FEMA (Federal Government), according to First Selectman and folks from Maguire (engineers) and confirmed by CT DOT...however, the DOT individual pointed out that there is an "emergency" factor in FEMA regs - this is a good thing. (Now that CT received disaster declaration, at least for infrastructure like Cartbridge.)

IMPACT: 
What is the traffic impact on the Davis Hill Bridge, as well as the Valley Forge/Lyons Plan/Kellogg Hill intersection going to be like?  Has anyone run the numbers (i.e. traffic consultanr or SWRPA, which studied this intersection and made recommendations in the past)?  Can't be good...we'll check the accident history on roads and at interestions near these two operating bridges from time to time...RIVER ROAD is fourth bridge in Weston - First Selectman reminds us that there is one at this spot!


First Selectmen Peppered With Questions
Westport News (part of story relating to Weston)
Don Casciato
May 16, 2007

"...A query about a bridge in Weston, which will be out of commission for between six and 12 months, produced some angst.  The person asking the question claimed that Bliss' earlier answer to the man's wife seemed 'specious' and he wanted to know why a temporary bridge couldn't be installed...

"Another topic included flooding problems and how to cope when 'we don't have the manpower.  That's what keeps me awake at night' said Bliss."

"On the...issue of affordable workforce housing, Bliss said Weston lacks the sewers needed for such a project. 'The fact of the matter is the bridge is in a federal flood plain'" said Bliss.  'We are moving rapidly on our end...'"

Earlier report:

Cartbridge bridge replacement: A long road lies ahead

FORUM
by PATRICIA GAY
May 9, 2007

The bridge on Cartbridge Road, which was severely damaged in the recent nor’easter, is not going to be reopened anytime soon. “It may be out of service for a year or more,” said First Selectman Woody Bliss.  According to Mr. Bliss, a report from a team of engineers — including a diver who explored the bridge’s underpinnings — states the bridge cannot be repaired and must be replaced...full story here...





LEGEND (land use colors) here...

Sub-neighborhoods of the Saugatuck River Valley: our study

This part of Weston is closer to "country living" than any other.  In the 1960's the Aspectuck Valley Golf Club started the land development boom on the east side of Weston. 

A river valley and flood plain, this section has grown as large subdivisions took the place of open fields beginning in the 1980's with Pheasant Hill.   After a storm that felled almost the entire pine forest, "Tall Pines" subdivision took care of those trees that remained.  In addition, Westport water was brought to this site (it was on the Town line).   Stonybrook is a long-established (pre-zoning) colony of what were weekend homes for New Yorkers, clustered together on small lots surrounding a large common space.  It is an example of a different type of development than is usually found in Weston, and predates zoning regulations.  Lyons Plain Road contains two of Weston's historic districts.  Lower Lyons Plain orients to Westport.



SAUGATUCK RESERVOIR A REGIONALLY SIGNIFICANT FEATURE
The area show below is cut off from the rest of Weston by natural features, specifically, the main branch of the Saugatuck River.  (Although flow and quality of water is not natural at all, but controlled by Aquarion at its facilities atop the Valley at the lower end of the Saugatuck Reservoir.)

NOTE:  the topography defines the river valley, but areas within "The East Side" drain into the Saugatuck, and thus affect environmental conditions there.



LAND USE LEGEND 2008
Lots going on in this neighborhood!   Two bridges tie this part of town to the "hub" of school and government activity - one is being rebuilt after flooding took it in 2007, and the other, previously planned for rebuilding first, is due to be out of service as soon as Cartbridge is back in business, we suppose!




SUB-NEIGHBORHOODS WITHIN SAUGATUCK RIVER VALLEY: 




"TALL PINES"

A storm in the early 1990's felled a forest of pine trees (so spectacular a forest that they blotted out even the idea that there were power lines running in their midst) in this sub-neighborhood.  How the area has managed to avert its eyes from the power lines since is a credit to large lot zoning and the benefits of preserving the rural appearance (i.e. saving the double-width stone walls) and character of this former farming area - by introduction of Westport public water supply (thus not having to have specific distances from
well and septic fields).  This fact probably made possible a design that P&Z was then able to use to assure keeping the historic walls intact!





"PHEASANT HILL" includes 2009 replacement for 1940's Girl Scout Camp lodge - shown above, new, pre-fab camp has indoor plumbing and, we assume, the approvals from WWHD!

Named for the large subdivision by that name (taking up perhaps 25% of the sub-area) , this sub-neighborhood has other distinguishing features--the Girl Scout Camp off Old Easton Turnpike being one. Traffic flow to Westport, we suspect, is an issue here.  And speaking of the Girl Scouts...
artist’s rendering of the new Girl Scout lodge to be constructed at Camp Aspetuck, above right.

P&Z approves plans for new Girl Scout lodge in Weston       
Weston FORUM
Written by Patricia Gay    
Friday, June 05, 2009 

Troops attending Camp Aspetuck Girl Scout Camp are in store for a big treat — indoor plumbing.

On Monday, June 1, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved an application by the Girl Scouts of Connecticut Inc. to construct a 2,000-square-foot lodge at Camp Aspetuck, located at 88 Old Easton Turnpike.

“The new facility will give the scouts indoor sanitary facilities, which they don’t currently have, as well as an area for a nurse,” said Peter Scalzo, attorney for the Girl Scouts, in his presentation to P&Z.

Camp Aspetuck is on a 15-acre lot. The lodge will be built in the same spot as an old structure dating from the 1940s, which was recently torn down.

Rob Beebe, director of construction for Westchester Modular Homes of Fairfield County, is in charge of the lodge project.

“The lodge itself will be composed of three modular boxes that total approximately 2,000 square feet. The lodge will have an activities area, indoor plumbing, a nurse’s station and will be ADA compliant. It will be similar to a lodge built at Camp Candlewood in New Fairfield,” he said.

The application for the special permit to build the lodge went rather quickly, partly because buildings on the property predate zoning rules that came into play in 1950, so there was little for the commission to review.

“The buildings and the parking area are grandfathered in,” said Stephan Grozinger, P&Z chairman.

Camp Aspetuck is a Girl Scout day camp, and has a capacity of 80 campers.





"COUNTRY CLUB"

Although it lies in a corner of this sub-neighborhood, AVCC is a major activity hub in Town and here.




 
"STONYBROOK"

This sub-neighborhood is named after the pre-zoning cluster development, the community of "Stonybrook" (lower right of the map above).




"LYONS PLAIN"  TO THE RIGHT OF RED LINE, MOST AFFECTED... CARTBRIDGE BRIDGE CLOSING
The firehouse, Katherine Ordway Preserve and still open (in private hands) fields dominate this sub-neighborhood.  Plus the Central Lyons Plains Historic District and the Bradly Axe Tool Factory Historic District.

At the right, a close-up of Cartbridge properties from Assessor's Maps (artwork piecing them together by "About Town"):  small lots in the center "Cartbridge Swimming Hole" - on both sides of the river.  Riverbank Road, Cartbridge Road most affected by the construction to come (as well as Lyons P,lains itself!) - Town claims the repair will take 150 days - but Conservation thinks that the Town must return to get approval of new S&E plans for construction, since the work will be done in the Spring now (WET, WET, WET).




"LOWER LYONS PLAIN"
THIS SUB-NEIGHBORHOOD PROBABLY NOT AFFECTED AT ALL BY CARTBRIDGE CLOSING...
Historic but closer to Westport.  Framed by the Saugauck River and the Town line, this is a distinctive sub-neighborhood.