Residents appeal new Westport lot coverage rules
Published 3:59 pm, Wednesday, December 22, 2010
About 60 residents have filed a petition appealing a text amendment passed earlier this month by the Planning and Zoning Commission that establishes new, tighter regulations on lot coverage by residential properties.
The appeal, submitted Tuesday by lead petitioner Valerie Seiling Jacobs of Compo Parkway, will now be reviewed by the Representative Town Meeting. This petition follows another appeal filed last month that opposed new P&Z regulations designed to promote more affordable housing in town. The appeal filed last month was turned down earlier this month by the RTM.
Under Text Amendment 621, properties in the town's one- and two-acre zoning districts will have to adhere to a building coverage limit of 15 percent of a property's total counted area. Other changes in the amendment include counting swimming pools and porches as part of a property's total structural coverage as opposed to their current classification as building coverage. The amendment is scheduled to go into effect Feb. 14, unless it is overturned by the RTM.
The amendment provoked arguments at two public hearings in October. While some residents said 621 would help manage development in town, others, including Seiling Jacobs, criticized it as an unwarranted regulation that would diminish property values. The amendment subsequently won approval with relatively little disagreement, as P&Z members voted 5-1 in favor of the proposal.
P&Z commissioners had said at the hearings the amendment would regulate future development in town to avoid drainage problems, improve water quality flowing into rivers and streams, and elevate the general aesthetic quality of homes.
Under 621, the P&Z Department estimates building coverage on about 300 additional lots in Westport will be classified as nonconforming. The P&Z currently counts about 1,450 lots as not conforming to existing building coverage regulations.
Existing Westport zoning regulations do not mandate an automatic penalty for a nonconforming use on a property. However, if a property owner wants to further develop the property, he or she must either receive a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals or eliminate existing coverage to compensate for the new development.