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Saturday, December 16 News

Neighbors protest water tanks on ‘Tanks-giving day’

WESTPORT — While gigantic balloons marched down the Streets of New York City Thanksgiving Day, a group of Westport residents flew a balloon of their own on North Avenue.

Residents protesting the approved construction of two Aquarion Water Company tanks across from Staples High School flew a 38-foot balloon to show the location and height of one of the water tanks.

“The flying balloon at the Aquarion site was part of a poster campaign on North Avenue to welcome the hundreds of Thanksgiving spectators at the annual Wreckers vs. Greenwich football match,” said Robert Harrington, one of the residents whose property abuts the site of the approved tanks.

The Westport Planning and Zoning Commission approved the Aquarion water tank project unanimously in September, but in the months since many residents have mobilized against the project.

A petition opposing the construction of the tanks in their current approved form has received over 800 signatures, both written and online.

Residents filed an appeal of the two tanks with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) in late October. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, part of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, regulates utility and telecommunications companies.

Then in early November, Aquarion filed a Motion to Dismiss the residents appeal with PURA.

On Nov. 21., PURA granted the neighbor’s the ability to be able to respond to Aquarion’s Motion to Dismiss and gave them until Dec. 15.

“It fully complies with all P&Z requirements. That’s why the project was approved,” Peter Fazekas, Aquarion’s Director of Public Relations said.

Meanwhile, Harrington and his fellow neighbors protesting the tanks said they’ve been communicating with elected officials, such as First Selectman Jim Marpe, and both State Representatives and State Senators — Jonathan Steinberg, Gail Lavielle, Tony Hwang, and Toni Boucher.

“Our goal is to create a united movement with town and state officials to get a better deal for Westport and neighbors while balancing the accepted need for new tanks and more water,” Harrington said.

Residents will have two opportunities to engage in public meetings regarding the water tanks. The first will be held by town officials in Town Hall on Tuesday. The second, an informational meeting organized by Aquarion, will occur on Dec. 13 at Town Hall.

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