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Tuesday, August 20 News

32-unit housing development, new hotel proposed

WESTPORT — The Planning and Zoning Commission is set to review a text amendment change at its Thursday meeting, that would allow 32-unit rental housing development at the former Roger’s Septic Tank property.

An application filed by 1480 PRE Associates, LLC and represented by attorney Christopher Smith looks to allow greater density at the lot to accomodate two-family and multifamily dwellings, six of which would be affordable housing units.

Planning and Zoning Director Mary Young said the amendment will be heard simultaneously with a site-plan application to develop the 1.62-acre property at 1480 Post Road E.

“The site plan currently violates a private deed restriction requiring a 45-foot limit of development line between 1480 Post Road East and the single-family neighborhood located to the rear on Cottage Lane,” Young said in her staff report.

This restriction was created in 2011 when 1480 Post Road E. owner Alan Thoele obtained approval to rezone property from residential to nonresidential.

“The Cottage Lane neighbors agreed not to oppose the request, provided they would be better protected from future commercial intrusion in their backyards by creating an expanded buffer area,” Young said.

According to Young, the redevelopment of Roger’s Septic Tanks for new housing could be a win-win-win for the developer, the town and the Cottage Lane neighbors.

“Allowing adaptive re-use of 1480 Post Road East for multifamily development will enhance property values for both the owner of 1480 Post Road East and surrounding property owners as the existing site is underutilized, nonconforming in its use as a contractor’s yard and unattractive as it is barren of any defined landscaping,” Young said.

The development will also keep in character with the town as it includes landscaping that provides screening and buffering between it and the single-family neighborhood located on Cottage Lane, she added.

Earlier this year, 1480 PRE Associates submitted two additional applications as part of an affordable housing development under 8-30 g state of the Connecticut General Statues. The applications remain pending, but Young said they could be withdrawn if the other applications are approved Thursday.

“It will be a dramatic transformation from existing to proposed conditions if the project is approved,” she said.

New hotel on the way?

The commission will also give a pre-application review of a plan that could bring a new hotel option to Westport. Currently the Westport Inn is the only hotel in town.

The application was filed by 1 Burr Road LLC, which currently leases the property to the operator of a 60-room, 120-bed skilled nursing facility known as Westport Rehabilitation Complex. The facility, which is located at 1 Burr Road, provides short-term rehabilitation services as well as longer-term services.

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In May, the complex was fined $8,120 following the discovery of money being taken from residents’ trust funds and another incident in which a resident was injured.

Braman said in a April 19 letter to the commission that the current site is aging and in need of refurbishment. According to the letter, the property’s current use does not produce sufficient revenue to allow for major renovations.

“Over the past several years, the applicant has been seeking ways to make profitable use of its property while improving and beautifying it and the surrounding community,” Braman wrote, adding that switching the property’s function to a high-end-hotel could fulfull an unmet need in Westport.

However, the property is located in a RORD-1 Zone, which prohibits a hotel.

The applicant is proposing to amend the regulations to add hotels as permissible.

Meanwhile, at Morningside

Morningside Drive Homes, LLC has withdrawn its application for a 16-unit townhouse proposal on a historic Greens Farms property after reaching a settlement with the Planning and Zoning, and Historic District commissions.

Morningside has been approved a three-lot subdivision for 26 Morningside Drive South. As part of the settlement, the farmhouse and studio there will both be retained on a newly-created 24 Morningside Drive South lot. The applicant is also required to restore the historic house.

The properties at 20 and 26 Morningside, which sit across the street from Greens Farms Elementary School, garnered significant attention in January 2018 when the Historic District Commission unanimously denied Morningside’s application to build a mansion at 20 Morningside. The developer returned in October with a proposal to build 19 condos on the land.

Greens Farms residents and historic preservation activists at the time appeared at several meetings to advocate against development on the property, which was previously owned by the now deceased artist couple Walter and Naiad Einsel.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Town Hall.

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com

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