NORWALK - Residents of Norwalk and Westport say they are against a proposed plan to transform a popular preserve into real estate.

Officials say a private developer is looking to build 15 homes on the 5-acre property of the White Barn Preserve.

Joanne Jackson was born and raised in the Cranbury neighborhood of Norwalk, and says she is devastated by the thought of a New Canaan developer building homes on the untouched property.

"It would truly change the character of the neighborhood forever," Jackson said. "Once it's gone, it's gone."

According to Jackson, the city and state dished out $700,000 in space grants in 2008 to complete the preserve as a natural habitat.

Should the development go forward, residents say they hope it is tremendously scaled down and done within the property's environmental limits.

Officials say there will be two upcoming town meetings to discuss the proposed plan.