Developer resurrects proposal for 500 Main St.
Published 3:05 pm, Thursday, May 24, 2018
WESTPORT — A developer, denied permission to build a small housing development at 500 Main St., has resurrected plans for the site.
On April 2, Melvin Barr of Barr Associates, LLC, submitted an application for two two-family homes and five one-family homes for the 2.18 acre lot at 500 Main St., the location of the former Daybreak Nursery.
In March, the Planning and Zoning Commission rejected a proposal for four two-family homes and three one-family houses on the property, citing car safety concerns the development may pose at the already busy intersection of Weston Road and Main Street and environmental impact of 11 new septic systems that would be put on the property to provide water to its residents.
Barr’s client, Peter Greenberg, founder of Norwalk-based Able Construction, bought the property after Daybreak closed in 2013 and in the years since, has worked with the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) to formulate a proposal for a development suitable for the property.
A group of nearby neighbors formed the Coleytown Conservation Coalition to oppose Greenberg’s proposal for 500 Main St. and describes itself as an organization, “dedicated to conserving Coleytown’s bucolic small-town charm, and ensuring new developments won’t compromise the character of our neighborhood.”
Throughout the five months of public hearings on 500 Main St., members of the Coalition continuously spoke about the potential traffic and car safety impact of a new development at what many called a dangerous intersection.
The development’s new design proposes a cul-de-sac on Weston Road to eliminate through traffic on Weston Road, Greenberg said, adding the new proposal has one entryway/exit to the property while the former proposal had two.
Another major change to the new proposal is a 25 percent decrease in the number of units in the development, from 12 units in the former to nine in the new proposal, a number which several members of the P&Z members who voted down the last proposal, namely commissioner Greg Rutstein, said would be more compatible in density to the surrounding homes.
Like his former proposal, Greenberg said the units in the new application each have two-bedrooms with an average of 2,000 square feet per unit and are all deed restricted for persons 55 years of age or older. While the former proposal was restricted 100 percent affordable housing units, the new proposal says it will have 60% or greater affordable units.
“We’re not looking for a fight. We understand the concerns of the neighbors. We have worked closely with the P&Z commission over the last four years, so it’s somewhat frustrating, but I understand people's positions and try to be as accommodating as possible,” Greenberg said. At previous hearings, Greenberg said his proposal for a group of smaller houses came out of discussion with P&Z commissioners about the need for smaller houses in town in which residents who live in larger homes can downsize when their kids leave for college and they want to age in place. “We believe it’s a market that’s underserved,” Greenberg said.
Bonnie Dubson, a resident of Daybreak Lane and leader of the Coleytown Conservation Coalition said the new proposal still includes too many bedrooms and poses a threat to water supply protection. Pert town zoning regulations any “small homes development” must have a “compatible density” to the surrounding homes if the development is in a zone “A”, Dubson said. “Even though it’s reduced from 12 to nine (units) it’s not compatible because if it were compatible I’d be able to have three other houses on my lot. Compatible means the same,” Dubson said.
P&Z Chairman Paul Lebowitz, who voted along with Commissioner Cathy Walsh to approve the former proposal, said he could not comment on Greenber’s application because it is currently under consideration by the P&Z, but added the P&Z will likely finalize a decision on the new application at its June 7 meeting.
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