This past Monday night (April 20) the RTM Planning and Zoning Committee, after hearing from the public and the chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, voted to recommend to the full RTM that they consider overturning the commission's recent amendment that made the Baron's South property open space for recreational use.

At the heart of the matter was a pre-application submitted by the Jonathan Rose Co. to build a combination affordable senior housing and assisted living facility. The RTM Planning and Zoning Committee contended that the Planning and Zoning Commission had been too quick to declare the property as open space and had not given the Jonathan Rose Co. enough time to come back to the commission with an application.

Thus, the RTM Planning and Zoning Committee decision to bring forward a request to overturn the commission's amendment. It all sounded so neat until you listened to the facts and the logical explanation from the Planning and Zoning Commission chairman, Chip Stephens.

Mr. Stephens explained that the decision to make Baron's open space was under discussion well before the Jonathan Rose pre-application was presented and a timeline that was read at the meeting supported that position. Further, Mr. Stephens said that there were no closed doors and that regardless of the open space designation, there is nothing that precludes the Jonathan Rose Co. from submitting an application at any time in the future. If an application were approved, as a normal course of events, the Planning and Zoning Commission would then have to amend the open space designation.

Knowing this, one has to ask why the RTM Planning and Zoning Committee would bring this forward to the full RTM. The RTM rarely overturns commission amendments, and in this instance, given that there is a well-defined path for the developer to follow and irrespective of the senior housing element, it would appear that overturning the open space amendment is not reasonable.

Jeff Block

Westport