Before it made front page news, it was dumb luck that I learned the Conservation Commission's Inland Wetland Agency had scheduled a hearing Feb. 6 on a proposed affordable housing development on Bronson Road.

Four stories (a parking level and three residential floors) on 2.74 acres, with 116 paved parking spaces on the banks of the Mill River.

Hasn't this river experienced enough trauma? Didn't we just fight for many years to have the river cleaned up? And now the town is being presented with a plan to add to the plight of the river, the ecosystem, the wildlife and the residents?

You might think that because the development is proposed between I-95 on the north and railroad tracks on the south that it's a less-than-desirable piece of property.

Have you ever been out on the river? Have you seen where the swans have their babies every year? Have you been the blue crabs and the blue herons, the songbirds, geese and ducks?

This river is home to so many species, and despite the horrific pollution that it suffered for so many years, it's alive. It will be even more alive once the cleanup is completed. We must protect it from further development and the risks (that go beyond the outward aesthetics) that such a development might bring.

I spoke at that Feb. 6 hearing and was told that if you speak once, you can't speak at future hearings (is that a rule in town?). Well, my passion broke through and got me in trouble with the chairman (I guess I didn't follow the appropriate protocol).

I lived in one of the four houses in town spared by the British when they stormed the beach; I thought that was pretty "special."

But after downsizing, I moved to the lower Bronson Road neighborhood and onto Mill River. It is here that I discovered the incredible beauty and ecosystem treasures that many in this town already long knew about.

The River Lab project, founded and administered by the Mill River Wetland Committee, is an educational gift that every elementary school child in town receives. How many of you reading this are parents who assisted in those field trips?

Please, protect the only tidal river and its surrounding beautiful environment that we have in this town. Attend the Inland Wetland Agency hearing on Thursday, March 6 (7:30 p.m., Osborn Hill School all-purpose room).

You don't have to speak (though remember, if you do, you won't be allowed to speak again) but just turn out and show the Conservation Commission and the town that you care.

Patty Sullivan