Text amendment objection

The P&Z Commission has proposed a text amendment to the zoning regulations that could seriously decrease the value of the older homes located in the Compo Beach and Saugatuck Shores neighborhoods. If approved, this text amendment, described in a legal notice in the Westport News on March 24 (page A12, Item 3) would effectively ensure the demolition of many of the older homes in the beach area.

Under the current regulations, a beach area homeowner can spend up to 50 percent of a home's value within a 5-year period without being forced to bring the entire structure into compliance with FEMA regulations -- essentially by filling in a basement or raising the house above the 100-year flood level.

The proposed change, which is not required by FEMA regulations, would only allow you to spend up to 50 percent of the building's appraised value over the lifetime of the property -- effectively capping the amount that can be spent on the property forever. Even worse, the proposed regulation would apply retroactively to any beach area construction covered by a permit issued within the past 5 years.

If approved, this amendment would mean that once you spend up to your limit (including what was spent up to 5 years ago), neither you nor any future owner would be able spend anything more to improve or maintain the house without filling in a basement or raising the entire structure. The lifetime cap applies to things like replacing built-in appliances (another change not mandated by FEMA) or your roof.

Because this was proposed as a text amendment, the P&Z was not required to notify the ones who will be most affected by the change -- not only beach, but all flood area residents. The public hearing is on April 8 at 7 p.m.

If you can't attend the public hearing, you might want to put your objections to the "optional" changes (not mandated by FEMA) in writing to Ron Corwin, chairman, P&Z Commission, Room 203, Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Ave., Westport CT 06880.

My 1922 house (and those of my neighbors on Roosevelt Road) survived the 1938 flood. I'd hate to see it destroyed by this text amendment.

William Singer


Rabbits are not

Easter gifts

Do you know someone who is planning on buying a rabbit for Easter? A toy stuffed bunny or chocolate bunny will make a much better gift. We want to share that rabbits are a 10- to 12-year life commitment, need daily care and interaction from the family, and need a rabbit savvy vet for their health care.

Rabbits are fragile creatures. They have a lighter bone structure than do dogs or cats and easily break their spines if dropped. Baby bunnies are adorable and may allow you to hold them. A baby bunny will mature in two months or so, and often, will no longer tolerate being held. Powerful hind legs can scratch and sharp teeth can bite. Unsterilized rabbits may spray and mark their territory, just like cats. Unspayed females are territorial and may attack little hands that enter the cage. A rabbit must be spayed or neutered to eliminate these undesirable behaviors and possible health issues such as cancer.

In the days, weeks and months following Easter, our local animal shelters will be, inundated with discarded homeless bunnies. Sadly, this "dumping" continues each year and hundreds of new bunnies will be discarded and risk being euthanized for lack of adoptive homes. Some never get the chance of food care at a shelter but find themselves released into the wild. Unlike wild rabbits, pet rabbits cannot fend for themselves. The rabbit won't survive for more than a day or two on his own.

Rabbits do make wonderful pets for the right family. After your Easter celebration, please contact us for more information if you are interested in providing a loving, indoor home for 10--12 years. Please adopt, don't buy.

The House Rabbit Connection (HRC) is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that rescues homeless rabbits and arranges to have them spayed or neutered. Our foster sites care for the rabbits by litter box training, socializing, and providing a warm and loving home while seeking appropriate, permanent indoor homes for them.

Deb Young, Education Chairman,

Paula J. Raposa, President,

House Rabbit Connection Inc.

Springfield, Mass.