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‘Prostituting’ Fairfield Hills

To the Editor:

The verb prostitute, according to Collins Thesaurus, means to  “cheapen, sell out, pervert, devalue, squander, demean, debase, profane, or misapply.”

This is exactly what seems to be evolving at Fairfield Hills. Our first selectman told the Board of Selectman at their most recent meeting that “those interested in projects at Fairfield Hills have said retail or commercial enterprises cannot survive without a residential component.”

So we are now rapidly going down the path of allowing housing on Fairfield Hills. In the last month, with almost no publicity, the Economic Development Commission endorsed apartments on Fairfield Hills, the Fairfield Hills Authority was asked to endorse this proposal, and the P&Z is holding a hearing to liberalize the apartment zoning town wide. All of this after the Master Plan Review Commission recommended no housing on Fairfield Hills. Makes one wonder what is behind this fast track effort by our first selectman and appointed and elected officials.

Apartments over commercial buildings would allow school age children, negating any economic development for the taxpayer. In fact when tax abatements are also provided the apartments most likely cost the taxpayer money.  At the same time we are increasing tax relief (spending $1.65 million) for seniors so more school age families do not move to Newtown.

Could it be that the desire of one or more commercial builders to make a quick or guaranteed profit off our stalled efforts to “develop” Fairfield Hills is the motivation?  First we have “cheapened” our lease terms to $1 a year if someone would build anything. That was not enough so we again are willing to “devalue” Fairfield Hills by encouraging apartment rentals so a commercial builder can make a buck. And then we’ll offer tax abatements when that doesn’t work.  At the same time we will be increasing the taxpayer’s costs by supporting additional residents with municipal and school expenditures.

The question remains:  How does Newtown benefit from “squandering” the asset, Fairfield Hills. We purchased the property so we, not commercial builders,  could control the development of the campus, not to “sell out” because we underestimated the cost to preserve it.  Are we that desperate that we are prostituting Fairfield Hills to show some activity? Just who is benefiting?

Bruce Walczak

12 Glover Avenue, Newtown                        June 5, 2014

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