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Friday, January 19 News

New way to notify residents of proposed developments: orange envelopes

WESTPORT—Representatives from the Planning and Zoning Commission and members of the public came up with a solution to notify residents of new housing and commercial developments: orange envelopes.

The simple solution is meant to address the string of controversies pitting developers against residents opposed to developments in town and who feel they did not receive proper notification of the projects.

“We heard all the time from so many different members of the public that they did not know when something was happening until after it happened,” said P&Z Commissioner Danielle Dobin, who recently formed a communications subcommittee with Michael Canmeyer.

As of now, the P&Z Department notifies residents of proposed developments through a notice in the newspaper and an email to those 19 people subscribed to receive department e-notifications.

In addition, the town requires developers to send a mailed notice of the proposed project to residents within a radius of 200 feet or 500 feet, depending on the type of application.

The current mailed notices look like “junk mail” because of the envelope’s white color and lack of clear language, said Valerie Jacobs, co-chairwoman of the Save Westport Now political party.

P&Z Commissioner Cathy Walsh suggested developers use orange envelopes, which the town used when it was in charge of mailing notices to residents. Years ago, the orange envelopes stopped when the burden of notice was transferred to developers in order to relieve the town of the financial and labor demands of alerting residents.

Resident Matthew Mandell suggested the town buy orange or other clearly marked “P&Z notice” envelopes and then sell the envelopes to developers to send out so as to ensure consistency in notification style.

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