Westfield is losing another beautiful wooded area, a wetlands actually, with soaring trees, deer, red-tail hawks nests and an abundance of natural beauty. These 100-year-old trees are in the process of being cut down to make way for another neighborhood with 52 homes approved on Carey Road across from Carey Ridge Elementary School.
Last November, residents in the surrounding area received a letter from Pulte saying they were proposing a subdivision to go right through the woods and the wetlands. I attended the Pulte meeting to find out what was planned and we were told that “the plan meets the zoning requirements,” and while there are some restrictions on the wetlands, there were no requirements for the developer regarding the trees. In checking with the Westfield Advisory Plan Commission, they confirmed that, yes, as long as it meets requirements of a neighborhood development, they must approve the plan. The APC can make “additional recommendations,” for instance to save as many trees as possible. However, those recommendations don’t have to be followed by the developer.
So, the problem lies within Westfield’s “master plan.” Although setbacks, architecture and road frontage are all thought out, no one seemed to have the forethought to protect the modest amount of woods and natural beauty left in Westfield. A 100-year-old tree will take your lifetime and your children’s lifetime to return. And yet acres of these beautiful landmarks are being plowed under in but a few hours. Why can’t new language be put into the Comprehensive Plan to save some of the existing natural areas that we have left before they are all gone and we are a city of rooftops and concrete?
Developers have an opportunity to create beautiful spaces and leave some of the natural areas. Unfortunately, once they have purchased the land, they can do with it as they please.
It’s time to re-write policy to prevent, or at least plan, urban sprawl so that it protects the natural assets of this community. There is a way to mix building and land spaces so that already existing woodlands are protected, in writing, not just as a recommendation that can be ignored.
Heather Liston, Westfield