Judge Says Madison Must Reconsider The Ledges Special Permit

The Ledges project site plan.


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MADISON — Special permit approval for a seven-unit condo complex in Madison must be revisited, after a state Superior Court judge ruled the Planning and Zoning Commission didn’t properly consider the project’s septic system or environmental impact in its decision.

In his July 21 ruling, Judge J. Wilson said the commission did not consider the issue within its “purview,” instead deciding it was regulated by the local health department. 

According to the ruling, the Connecticut Public Health Code requires that sewage and septic systems comply with public health code and meet the approval of the local health director. 

Wilson said the legislature has tasked municipal zoning commissions located within coastal areas with the role of considering impacts on coastal resources, under the Coastal Management Act. 

“The consideration of coastal resources is an entirely different ‘purview’ than that of the local health department’s consideration of public health because the CAM act prioritizes the conservation of coastal resources,” he wrote. 

The Ledges project at 856 Post Road would rehab an existing 5,600-square-foot house into two condos and build two duplexes and a “gatehouse” residence on the 1.81-acre site. Two years ago, the project’s public hearings drew opposition partly because blasting would be needed to make space for a septic system and water main.

In court documents, plaintiffs William Downes and Laura Downes, who are neighbors of the property, argued that “the CAM act required the commission to consider all potential impacts on coastal resources, however, the record did not reflect that the commission considered any impacts at all.”

On the day of its 6-3 vote on the project, the commission received direction from then-town planner David Anderson that “septic system management was in the purview of the health department and not the commission.” 

Wilson remanded the matter and directed the commission to “look to the record regarding the impact of the proposed septic system on coastal resources to inform its decision … on whether to approve or deny the special exception permit and the coastal site plan.” 

The court also directed the commission not to reopen the hearing to take additional evidence. 

“The commission is directed only to consider the existing evidence in the record,” the ruling stated.