A parcel of town-owned property has been designated as open space by the Planning and Zoning Commission in a unanimous vote last week.

The 11.84-acre site is on Woodside Lane next to Earthplace, the Nature Discovery Center.

"This is another piece of town property that practically defines the concept of dedicated open space," said First Selectman Jim Marpe, who made the open space request.

"This parcel will become an attractive asset for the Woodside neighbors and the entire town and it will be enjoyed by Westporters for generations to come," he added.

"This is a map change amendment to change zoning from residential to DOSRD number three," said Mary Young, the Planning and Zoning Department's deputy director. DOSRD stands for dedicated open space recreational district and number three is the most restrictive dedication, meaning the land can be used only for passive recreation, she explained.

She added that through the efforts of the town's Tree Warden Bruce Lindsay, there may be an arborarium on the property in the future.

She noted that designating the land as open space fits in with the town's Plan of Conservation and Development, "a must read for those who haven't seen it," she added.

She added the designation would be "very prudent and very timely."

"This is a unique property that was made by discovery after some neighbors called about its condition," said Lindsey. "The trees and trails there have become a bit ragged."

He said he found the site didn't fall under "any specific domain" and "it seemed like the opportunity to keep it as open space."

P&Z member Jack Whittle asked about access to the property.

He was told there is a pathway to the property from Earthplace, which will also provide parking for those using the open space.

Selectman Helen Garten, who is also an Earthplace trustee, said the organization is "happy to partner with the town and to provide parking."

"This is a terrific outcome and I support it," said resident Don Bergmann, who praised the open-space designation.