60-foot tall affordable housing complex on Post Road East debated
WESTPORT—A four-story, 94-unit housing complex with affordable housing proposed for 1177 Post Road East was vetted for hours Thursday by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Christopher Smith, the attorney on behalf of the developer 1177 PRE Associates, LLC explained because the application was submitted under the state general statute 8-30g the 60-foot tall building will have 29 affordable units, or 30.8 percent of the total units in the building.
The 1.96 acre property will include an exposed parking lot and an additional concealed parking lot underneath the four-story building—152 parking spaces in all.
"Four stories and sixty feet is fairly out of character with what’s been constructed in any location in Westport and I would strongly consider that you request that they take a look at maybe some alternatives to try to manage that a little bit better," Planning and Zoning Director Steve Palmer said.
The commission initially took favor with the development because it is planted on a major road and would serve a lot of town needs leading Chairman Catherine Walsh to say "You’re kind of on the right track."
Many commissioners took issue with the wide ranging scope and inevitable repercussions of the text amendment applied for. A major concern plauging both commissioners and the public in the amendment is that it would grant the ability to rezone a property to the applicant’s proposed Residential-Rental Housing Opportunity/ Workforce Zone District (R-RHOW) on the basis that it "Has a minimum lot size of 1.5 acres; Has frontage on a public street; Has access to public water and sewer."
An R-RHOW zone would allow for multi-family apartments, retail and professional offices up to 6,000 square feet and must include residential units.
"We write this (text amendment) into our regulations…this will promote more density and more problems in this town," Commissioner Chip Stephens said.
Matthew Mandell, RTM District 1, went as far as to call the text amendment "a Trojan horse."
"It allows it to be anywhere, anything, it is as unacceptable as anything I’ve ever seen presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission in the 11 years I’ve been watching this," Mandell said.
Residents who live near the site of the proposed structure cited fire truck mobility issues, noise, flooding and lack of space for children to play.
Commissioner Andra Vebell said the implementation of the apartments would impact not only the abutting neighbors but also Westporters driving along the Post Road.
"There’s sort of no real precedent for a building like this in Westport both in size and in the metal facade," Vebell said. "I feel that this is really out of place for our town…the metal façade, to me, feels like L.A. or downtown Stamford and I really would be upset if that were in my town."
The commission kept the issue open for further consideration.