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NFA Appeals IWC Decision At Castle Hill



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Newtown Forest Association (NFA) is appealing the decision made by Newtown Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) to approve the proposed 117-unit housing development at 20 and 60 Castle Hill Road.

The appeal is based on the anticipated impact the current proposal will have on our nearby Nettleton Preserve and is founded on the findings presented during the public hearing portion of the IWC process.

Trent McCann, executive director of Newtown Forest Association, said the current building proposal does not fully address the stormwater runoff that will originate on the property and ultimately find its way downhill into the Nettleton Preserve. Calculations estimate as much as 90,000 gallons of water can be diverted into Nettleton during a single rain event.

The Nettleton Preserve is protected open space featuring a mixture of forest, meadow, and wetland habitats that are home to a variety of native biodiversity, including the New England cottontails. Additionally, Nettleton is home to a memorial orchard overlooking historic Main Street. Runoff will not only alter the balance of these diverse ecosystems but will deposit substantial amounts of sediment and heavy metals into the fragile wetlands.

“We do not find this to be acceptable,” said McCann. “It is not our goal to stop this housing development from being built, but to make sure that any and all development is done responsibly. The NFA’s mission is to protect our preserves, and as such we are appealing to improve the stormwater management, which we do not feel the applicant has sufficiently addressed. The Nettleton Preserve is an iconic centerpiece of life in Newtown and the NFA will do everything in our power to protect it.”

Inland Wetlands Commission narrowly approved the 117 single-family home development at 20-60 Castle Hill Road in a 4-3 vote during its March 27 meeting.

The site is located on 136 acres, with the preserved portion including all of the land surrounding Taunton Lake. The development will also consist of a community center and other associated site improvements.

Developer George Trudell told the public last year that the proposed homes will be built on roughly 40 acres of the 132 acre property, with none of the homes located on roughly 75 acres nearest the lake. All 112 homes will be clustered together, with roughly 25 to 50 feet between them.

The specific regulation they will be using is 4.05.1, which allows residential open space developments. The homes will be clustered in one area of the development to maximize the open space surrounding it and would be a “multi-generational” development with homes between 1,800 and over 3,000 square feet. There will be large setbacks around the homes from the surrounding roads.

Trudell said the homes would fit the architectural style of the surrounding borough.

The development will have pickleball courts, a pool, a clubhouse, and a one-acre green, among other amenities available to residents.

Trudell noted that the plan to develop the western end of the property in a cluster and leave the area near the lake untouched has been responded to favorably by the neighbors and Borough officials.

The Newtown Bee reached out to Trudell on April 17 for comment on the NFA’s appeal, and Trudell said the NFA was a “good organization” and he was hoping to work with the organization to “work out” their concerns.

“I reached out to the NFA and we are working closely with them to work out any concerns,” said Trudell. “We’re both looking guys, we’ll work out whatever we need to do.”

Chris Gardner, senior burgess on the Borough of Newtown’s Board of Burgesses, said the borough is in “wait and see mode.” The borough’s zoning commission was going to take up the Castle Hill application tonight, but Gardner believes they won’t be able to while the appeal is in progress.

“We’ll take things as they come,” said Gardner.

Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at jim@thebee.com.

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