The Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday is scheduled to begin its review of a text amendment that would allow a lower minimum age of residency at the Whitney Glen condominium complex.

The condo development -- off East Main Street, near the Compo Shopping Center -- has about 60 units, which are owned or rented by residents 62 and older. The age restriction was a condition of the P&Z Commission's approval of the complex in 1979.

Whitney Glen does not have elevators, and upper-floor units are accessible only by stairs.

That has made the complex less attractive to senior citizens and made it more difficult for owners to sell or rent their units, according to Whitney Glen's attorney, Larry Weisman. Installing elevators is not feasible, he said.

Since 1981, Whitney Glen's owners have sought to lower the minimum age for residency from 62 to 55. In 2010, they filed a site plan and special permit application, but that effort died after town Attorney Ira Bloom determined that lowering the age minimum required a text amendment to zoning regulations.

In an effort to expand Whitney Glen's market, Weisman has submitted Text Amendment 648 to the P&Z Commission. It would create a new residency designation called "age-restricted senior housing," which would require that least one owner or occupant of a private residential unit that is accessible only by stairs be 55 or older.

"When you have an age restriction here of 62, and people come along and they say, `I'm 62, I'm not going to be able to climb these stairs in a few years,' you're shrinking the market for sales," Weisman said. "All I'm proposing to do is to change the definition. I'm not changing anything else in the regulations."

The proposed age-restricted senior housing designation would not change the town's underlying regulations for senior housing, which define a senior resident as 62 years old or older, Weisman said. The proposed text amendment also would not apply to the planned senior residential campus at the town-owned Baron's South property, Weisman added.

In May 2011, the P&Z approved Text Amendment 625, which created a zoning framework that facilitates senior housing development at Baron's South.

The P&Z is scheduled to begin its review of Text Amendment 648 at a public hearing that starts on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium.

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