WESTPORT — The 81-unit affordable housing complex proposed for Lincoln Street near downtown Westport poses a safety hazard, town fire officials said.

“A single point of access to the southernmost point of the development on Lincoln Street is inadequate,” said Andrew Kingsbury, Westport’s former fire chief and the operational and fire safety peer reviewer for the application brought by Cross Street LLC.

Fire safety vehicles will have a difficult time getting to the six-story, 137,000-square-foot building should it be built, Kingsbury told the Planning and Zoning Commission at its Sept. 6 meeting.

Fire Chief Robert Yost agreed with Kingsbury, saying improvements to the town’s water infrastructure have not kept pace with the construction of large buildings, and if a fire occurred at the proposed complex during the summer, the department could not guarantee it has enough water to fight it.

Meanwhile, the applicant’s fire safety consultant Joseph Versteeg said his analysis determined the town has more than enough water available to fight a potential fire at the complex, and that the building’s entrances and exits would adequately allow for the entrance of firefighting vehicles.

Fire safety concerns were front-and-center on Cross Street’s application because the proposal was submitted to the town in accordance with the state’s 8-30g statute.

“In essence, the statute says that if an applicant, a developer, is prepared to allocate 30 percent of the units for affordable housing as defined in the law and the regulations promulgated under it, then they basically are exempt from local zoning regulations,” town attorney Ira Bloom told the commission.

The commission can only deny an 8-30g application on the grounds of a “substantial public interest,” such as fire or traffic safety concerns, Bloom said. “The substantial public interest, even if it does exist, must clearly outweigh the need for affordable housing in the community,” he said.

If a town has sufficient affordable housing, the town can receive a moratorium on 8-30g applications, which prevents developers from bypassing town zoning regulations.

Westport does not have moratorium status, however, deeming the town open to 8-30g applications.

“If you look back over 25 years or so where there are denials of an 8-30g application by a Planning and Zoning Commission, a majority of those denials are reversed by the courts. In other words, the history of these cases is not good for commissions throughout the state of Connecticut that deny 8-30g applications. Statistically, commissions lose maybe about 70 percent,” Bloom said.

Despite the difficulty in preventing the development’s construction, residents have formed Westport Neighbors United LLC, to oppose the application.

The group, which formed in March, has over 300 members on its active email and donor list, said Tina Torraco, who lives on the corner of Riverside Avenue and Lincoln Street and is one of the group’s leaders.

“The mere size and scale are a danger to the immediate residents that reside only 15 to 18 feet from the fire collapse zones,” Torraco said, adding the increase in cars the complex would bring to the neighborhood would create a hazard to pedestrians in the area.

Members of the public will have an opportunity to speak before the commission about the Lincoln Street application again at a Sept. 27 public hearing. Chairman Paul Lebowitz said the commission will likely decide whether to approve the application by Oct. 11.

svaughan@hearstmediact.com; 203-842-2638; @SophieCVaughan1