Letter: It’s a matter of trust

To the Editor:
We have a new debate starting in town. Who should be entrusted to protect our aquifers in the role of the Aquifer Protection Agency (APA)? The Selectman decided that the activity in the land above the aquifer needs to be controlled properly in order to protect it and, therefore, the Planning & Zoning Commission needs to act as the APA. This is a logical thought. Unfortunately, the residents have lost faith and trust in P&Z. The question is not whether P&Z should care about protecting the aquifers, it’s whether they do care. The residents already decided they don’t trust them to protect the wetlands anymore. The Charter Commission recommended that we split IWB from P&Z and now have said they would have suggested the APA goes under IWB if they knew it might be handed to P&Z. At this point in time, we are scratching our heads trying to figure out if P&Z has the best interests of our residents in mind. Where is the line between development and over-development? When is there too much traffic and insufficient infrastructure to support more growth? Do they choose development over protecting wetlands? Do they care about protecting what attracted residents to Ridgefield? Will they allow single-family home neighborhoods to be infiltrated by multi-family units or one house replaced by 3 every time someone pulls out an 8-30g application?
Many of us feel that some members will protect this town and some have lost their way – that they are deciding on their own what this town should be. I believe a P&Z Commission comprised of the right people would protect our aquifers and this town. I can tell you that until I mentioned the potential contamination of Rainbow Lake (at a Special Permit Hearing) by pond-dredging equipment stored and cleaned nearby, no one considered it. I can tell you that during the application period for the Ridgefield Winter Club, P&Z (all but 3 members), the Ridgefield Dept. of Health, and CT DEEP (which is considered the weakest in the Northeast by many) all ignored the potential health hazard of re-using or flushing contaminated ice-shavings into the stormwater system (which would drain into the Mill River and surrounding wetlands). My plea that flushing into the septic system would be best for members, the wetlands and the underlying aquifer fell on deaf ears.
So the question isn’t who should protect our aquifers — it’s who do you trust?
Jeff Hansen
Old South Salem Road, May 27