Dobin is Democrats choice for Westport P&Z

WESTPORT—The Planning & Zoning Commission is close to finding a Democratic replacement for David Lessing, who resigned in October.

Danielle Dobin was nominated by the Democratic Town Committee on Dec. 15 at Earthplace to fill the seat vacated by Lessing, but still must be confirmed by the Planning and Zoning Commission. The nominating committee of the DTC selected Dobin from seven applicants, all of whom were granted an interview.

“She has deep subject matter knowledge as a real estate lawyer at Skadden Arps ... She’s also a fair and open-minded and articulate person who we thought would be a good advocate for good planning and zoning,” Becky Martin, chairwoman of the DTC nominating committee, said.

Dobin, a former associate representing real estate investors and lending institutions at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, is a managing member of Monarch Real Estate, a real estate investment company. She founded Apifeni, an activewear apparel company with clients including FlyWheel and YogaWorks, and worked as a staff assistant in the office of U.S. Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.).

A graduate of George Washington University with a degree in political communication, she earned a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and holds a master’s degree in real estate finance from New York University.

“She’s thoughtful, thorough and a great listener,” DTC Chairwoman Melissa Kane said.

While she was volunteering for the Hillary Clinton campaign in November, Dobin offered to drop off absentee ballot applications at the homes of various elderly Westporters, one of whom was Edward Vebell, the father and neighbor of Planning and Zoning Commissioner Andra Vebell. Edward, a 95-year-old who sketched the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, and Dobin became immersed in conversation at his house when Andra Vebell walked in. After getting to know Dobin’s background in real estate, Andra asked her to consider joining the P&Z.

Preserving the town’s character is important to Dobin.

“I care a lot about Westport. I moved to Westport because it has the feel of a small New England town and it’s really important to me personally to preserve that feeling. I feel as though the way in which I can participate the most in making sure that Westport retains its small-town character is to serve in a position like this,” Dobin said.

She said the P&Z should be proactive in shaping the town so that future developments are in sync with what the town wants.

“... By way of example, when the Westport Inn was going to be transformed into a giant apartment complex that was going to pour way too many students into Long Lots, you know, that was something that was really upsetting to me, and I’m really happy to be somebody who’s present to try to keep something like that from happening,” Dobin said.

Dobin is married with two children in the Westport school system.

The Planning and Zoning Commission next meets on Jan. 19.