Zoning commission sets priorities
With the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) no longer pursuing a lawsuit against the town over a decision reversed by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) in January, it's now full speed ahead for the commission's 2010 priorities.
The five priorities, ranging from solutions for affordable housing to determining a way to boost business in town, were completed during a meeting on Feb. 11, after several months of discussion.
"The schedule will be driven by the rate which we can turn [the priorities] out," said Ron Corwin, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission. "We haven't sequenced the whole [list of priorities]."
How to exactly enact these changes has yet to be determined, Corwin said, but subcommittees will work on amendments, and public hearings will then be held to discuss the proposals. The priorities were based on the 2007 Town Plan of Conservation and Development, public comments and the goals of individual commission members, according to a statement released by the commission.
The priorities, which were listed in the statement, are as follows.
"¢ Quick hits for Westport businesses: These are a set of ideas intended to create more vibrant and active commercial areas, particularly in the downtown area, according to a statement released by P&Z. One of the plans is to ease regulations and allow more outdoor dining. This regulation has been temporarily changed, but the commission desires a permanent modification to zoning regulations.
"¢ Simplified parking rules, "practical signage regulations" for businesses and regulation changes to encourage more entertainment venues, such as a movie theater, are also sought.
"¢ Excavation and fill regulations: The commission intends to work on "simple and quick" changes to excavation and fill regulations in order to minimize the adverse impacts associated with development, such as environmental and drainage issues.
"¢ Residential structure regulations: While there are regulations that guide house size, such as setbacks and a maximum allowed coverage of the house on the lot, Corwin said there are not regulations that can limit house sizes on large lots. According to the statement, much of the work on this topic has already been completed by town consultants, so now the commission has to put the "finishing touches" on this before it's brought to the public for comment.
"¢ Affordable housing: The commission plans to finish ongoing subcommittee work and present proposed solutions to the public for discussion.
"¢ Definitions for new construction, demolition and reconstruction: The commission intends to create "clear and measurable standards" for these categories.
Discussion on the priorities is scheduled for next week's meeting at 7 p.m. on Feb. 25, at Westport Town Hall.