February Board Meeting Minutes
P&Z Public Hearing for Post Plaza Feb 11th (via Zoom))
NEXT MEETING: Monday, March 1st (via Zoom)
ANNUAL MEETING: Thursday, April 8th (via Zoom)
Board members attending: Art Schoeller, Lois Sussman, Judy Swann, Norman Kramer, Anne Hamonet, Matt Spiegel and MaryAnn Meyer
Invited guests: RTM-5 Reps Dick Lowenstein, Peter Gold, Bitsy and Mitch Higgins.
- The Board began the meeting discussing the recently held P&Z Subcommittee meeting in regard to revising the amendment on accessory dwelling units (ADU).
The Subcommittee is still in the planning stage as there are many exceptions being discussed based on size of lot, height of building, cupola design and allowed coverage limits rather than square footage limits. The owner of the property would be required to live at the property but it was not clear if owners could rent out their home and live in the accessory dwelling unit themselves.
Peter Gold (RTM-5) brought up the question if the ADU’s were counted towards 8-30g affordable housing count or if they are eliminated from the count.
The Board will continue to monitor any further action on the revised ADU amendment.
- Update on West Parish (State DOT) where the P&Z and the Town continue to work on their request of 4 acres of land from the State DOT in order for the Westport Housing Authority to build affordable housing units. It is still under discussion. Will continue to follow this project.
- State Legislature is working on a bill which would allow the State to control local zoning to build affordable housing units across the State. Bitsy and Mitch Higgins (Iris Lane) provided helpful information regarding DesegregateCT (headed by Sara Bronin) which is a grass roots organization and a proponent of the State’s move to control local zoning. It would result in an increase of multiple housing units preferably near transportation hubs (commuter trains, accessible highways) across the State.
State Rep Kimberly Fiorello and State Senator Tony Hwang have held forums (via Zoom) as they are concerned that the bill would diminish the authority of local zoning boards and give the State more control of local zoning. The new proposed legislation would not replace the State’s affordable housing statute 8-30g but would function in parallel. Proposed bill is still under discussion and the legislature timeline for the bill is uncertain. Art to email our State reps for their input and to request updates on where this bill is headed.
- New tenant at Post Plaza
Barnes & Noble has moved out of Post Plaza and a new tenant (grocery/food market though not yet confirmed) is slated to move into the available space. As the Post Plaza borders a residential area (homes on Iris Lane, Church Street South and Morningside Drive South), the Board discussed the concerns addressed by Bitsy & Mitch Higgins whose property (3A Iris Lane) shares a border with the parking lot. A proper buffer zone is required and the Board will be vigilant to be sure that the owner satisfactorily provides a proper buffer zone.
Increased traffic on Church Street is also a concern as there is pedestrian traffic from The Little Barn restaurant as well as from pedestrians walking to the shops in the Post Plaza and children and parents walking to the Green’s Farms School.
The owner of the Post Plaza will be making these improvements including: Installing new lighting, landscaping, a new fence, new signage and grease traps. Also the culvert will be repaired and drainage and flooding will be addressed. The façade of the building will be renovated and the loading dock will be reconfigured.
A status report was submitted to P&Z regarding the ongoing environmental remediation at the former gas station on site and regulated by the DEEP. A Licensed Environmental Professional will be available at the upcoming Public Hearing to respond to any questions.
Improving lighting on Church Street South and installing a sidewalk along Church Street was discussed by the Board. The RTM is putting together a sidewalk plan and the Board discussed with the invited RTM reps to include Church Street in the plan.
- Annual Meeting
Confirmed Date: Tuesday, April 8th (via Zoom)
Topic: Affordable Housing/State Control of Local Zoning
Panel: (Yet to be confirmed) State Reps Jonathan Steinberg, Will Haskell, State Senators Tony Hwang and Stephanie Thompson.
Postcards will be mailed out to “Greens Farms Resident” with essential information along with GF Association website address and information on 2021 dues. An email will be sent out to current membership list with annual meeting and renewing membership information. Discussed obtaining emailing addresses from Parks & Rec for additional emails for Matt to create a “once a year” email list to increase membership.
Norman provided an update on 14 Hillandale Road which is an approved new subdivision with 4 new homes proposed. The existing home (A.E.Hotchner’s home) will be torn down and a new private road is proposed from Wakeman Road to the new subdivision.
The developer set aside land along the border of Wakeman Road as unused land and will make a cash contribution of 5% instead of 10% to the open space fund based on the property appraisal by a 3rd party.
- Westport Library Book Store
Dick Lowenstein(RTM-5) shared news about the Westport Library Book Store that will be run by volunteers and STAR. The store is located at Jessup Green.
Next Board Meeting: Monday, March 1