The Next Battle? Landlord Blasts Proposal Limiting Downtown Space

Next Thursday (February 27, 7 p.m., Town Hall) the Planning & Zoning Commission will review Text Amendment 672. It would limit the size of commercial tenant spaces in the Business Center District and Business Center District/Historic to no more than 10,000 square feet. The amendment would also preclude the merger of commercial properties or tenant spaces across property lines within these 2 zones.

At least 1 downtown landlord opposes the change. Writing to fellow property owners, the landlord says that passage “could have long-term negative effects on our downtown,” and on future property values.

The landlord continues:

In its simplest form, this amendment would prohibit a single building/landlord, who has a property with more than 10,000 square feet of leasable retail space (either on one level or multiple levels), from combining spaces to allow for a new 10,000 s/f or greater tenant. This applies to reconfiguring existing spaces as well as new projects within the 2 zones — essentially all of downtown Westport.  This  would apply if a single landlord or multiple landlords with adjoining properties wanted to do the same.

The 3-story Gap replaced a failed vertical mall -- which was built on the site of a furniture store that burned down in the mid-1970s.

The 3-story Gap replaced a failed vertical mall — which was built on the site of a furniture store that burned down in the mid-1970s.

The landlord says the following examples would have happened if this amendment was already on the books:

  •  Banana Republic could not occupy its current location.
  • Acadia would have been prohibited from combining 3 floors of retail at 125 Main Street to allow the Gap to move in.
  • Restoration Hardware would not have been allowed to occupy its current space.

In the future:

  •  If Tiffany wants to expand to the 2nd floor retail space above it, it could not.
  •  If Nike wants to expand into the adjacent Allen Edmonds/Theory/Lulu space, it could not.
  •  If Brooks Brothers wants to expand into the adjacent William-Sonoma space, it could not.
  •  If a single tenant wants all of the first floor of 180 Post Road East (the Michele’s Pies building), it could not happen.
One tenant could not take over the 1st floor of 180 Post Road East, according to proposed regulations. (Photo/Cushman & Wakefield)

One tenant could not take over the 1st floor of 180 Post Road East, according to proposed regulations. (Photo/Cushman & Wakefield)

In addition to those individual landlord examples, the downtown property owner says that “multiple landlords crossing lot lines and combining spaces” could also be affected. For example:

  • When Barney’s was in Westport, it expanded its men’s department by breaking through a 2nd floor party wall/lot line, creating a 15,000 s/f store (2 landlords, 2 properties).
  • Talbots expanded its brand by breaking through a party wall/lot line, taking over the old Remarkable Book Store and creating a single 12,500 s/f store.

The landlord writes, “Our P&Z thinks this will create an environment that is more friendly to ‘mom and pop’ businesses. This is not the case. It will only discourage all commercial activity in downtown Westport. Would you lease a space that is 8,000 square feet with an interest in expanding, when you know you cannot go over 10,000?”

The landlord concludes, “There are many ways to encourage economic diversity within our downtown area. However, a regulation change at this point is premature, especially without consideration of any alternatives. This proposal is a knee-jerk reaction to a perceived problem that does not exist.”

“06880” readers — property owners, shoppers, whomever — do you agree or disagree? Hit “comments” to weigh in. NOTE: Because the landlord has asked not to be identified by name, anonymous comments will be allowed for this post only. However, please keep all remarks civil and on target!

118 responses to “The Next Battle? Landlord Blasts Proposal Limiting Downtown Space

  1. I whole-heartedly agree with the points this landlord has made. These type of restrictions will discourage new business and further depress the real estate market. It will also have the effect of lowering the value of commercial real estate.

  2. Bruce Fernie - SHS 1970

    Every point the landlord makes as to what WOULDN’T or COULDN’T happen seems to be a good reason for the amendment.

  3. I don’t agree with this top-down authoritarian mentality of the P&Z. They give little thought to the unintended consequences that result from their good intentioned policies. The heavy hand of government planning is not what we need here. We want to encourage business not depress it. Take a look around at all the empty commercial spaces/for rent/for sale signs in Westport.

  4. Bruce Fernie - SHS 1970

    Lia, If the values are lowered, the rents will be lowered and maybe, just maybe we might have something that doesn’t resemble every other middle market mall in America by enabling some exciting and creative small businesses to open and flourish.

    • Bruce; you seem just a little callous to the owners of properties who will feel the loss of decreased value. What if they have children whose education was dependent upon the property being sold at it’s prior value, what if the landlord is supporting an elderly parent and is counting on current rent levels to do so.

      Secondly it is a bit of a reach to assume that exciting and creative small businesses will not open in expensive markets. The reality that I have experienced anecdotally is the opposite. Unless you are talking about creating a venue for artist to artificially flourish due to subsidies and not the free market, then I would have to disagree with you assumptions. And generally these artists disappear after the subsidies do in that their work was never strong enough for the free markets to sustain them.

      • Who gives a shit, “James Madison.” Will you give handouts to a residential property owner who has their property value decrease? So why give a handout to a property developer?

      • One issue that should be added. About 20% of the tax revenue for the town comes from commercial space. That’s about $40 MILLION to the town. If the property value of the space would decline due to this horrible Text Amendment, then the taxes the town collects would decrease. Will they drop by 10%? 20%?

        The residents would then have to make up the millions of dollars in tax shortfall.

        This is very serious stuff with this Text Amendment. No joking matter.

        And what if developers got spooked and stopped doing anything in Westport because they could not trust this town to keep the zoning laws stable?

        And what is the town gets used for changing the zoning laws? Who pays for that bill?

        At the end, this could be a real disaster for the residents. It is no joking matter when you play with this.

        Whoever is behind this better think this thru. They could be hurting everyone on Westport.

  5. an anonymous WESTPORT RESIDENT

    So “The Landlord wants to remain un-named”
    Are we surprised ? Probably not as the landlords for the most part are out of town (out of state) investors that have made the downtown a very unattractive area for local residents to visit, just picture in your mind the neon light line running over main st for the recent holidays, where once was trees lit with thousands of lights and the same along the river. Just look at the parking lots that fall into total disrepair and trash while they continue to create more retail space that makes no sense to 90 percent of the residents of Westport and then these owners call for Westport to improve the parking and access to their properties. Some so brazen some as to not even clear their sidewalks of recent snow and ice (or empty garbage cans brimming with nasty overflow)
    My suggestion mr unnamed landlord it to get you and your fellow downtown OWNERS to the Downtown Committee Meetings and The Village District Meetings where WESTPORT residents will be voicing their views of what WESTPORTERS want to see their downtown be in 2020 and beyond Maybe they will agree that downtown should be one big Gap Complex or merge into one big Walmart. Add to that vision, a 4 story parking garage ,that one developer even proposed be built as anything smaller would not be seen. WOW Can’t wait for the traffic that vision will bring on !

    • Anonymous Westport Resident:
      1. Why are you anonymous while attacking someone else for being so?
      2. What is wrong with being anonymous? I can think of a dozen reasons why I would not want my name known if I were a landlord having nothing to do with this issue. You can start with not wanting to spar with anti free market do gooders who hate capitalism and take it from there.
      3.What is your evidence that commercial property owners are all from out of town. I know owners of property in town that are local. And why does it matter. It is in a commercial property owners best interest to maintain and improve his or her property. It also up to the character, aesthetics and value system of the owner. They could rank low on these metrics or high, and their residential location can be irrelevant. I know Westporters who rank at the bottom and people from out of town who rank at the top.
      4. Are you seriously blaming landlords for the total disrepair of parking lots with trash in them. Blame government; the very government that taxes Westporters to death as well as the state and Federal governments. Taxes destroy the economy; a destroyed economy leaves less revenue for street repair and trash removal.

      • I’m not anonymous, and I am calling you out for posting BS because if you had any guts you’d attach your name to your post, like me.

        Express whatever opinion you want, but have some balls.

        The gutlessness of people is astounding. And they want to be taken seriously? Yeah, right..

        Dan – even with an original post relating to an “anonymous” letter, please keep the real names policy!

  6. Anonymous resident

    Am I the only one who thinks this is suspicious with the development of the YMCA space. We just approved a huge redevelopment of the YMCA property and now we are proposing that no other locations in town may renovate to compete with the YMCA’s large retail space. Sounds like we are creating a monopoly for the YMCA space.
    New Canaan seems to blend national retailers with local shops and a bunch of great restaurants.. Is it only because they have a larger downtown area?

    • I think I know why

      Several years ago I asked a new Canaan shop owner how it was their town remained intact with more privately owned than nationally owned stores. She explained how the town’s better business bureau, landlords, and realtors met to band together as a team to create their merchant community. Shame Westport didn’t have that vision. New Canaan certainly got it right.

      • David A. Waldman

        Have you been back lately? Ralph Lauren, Ralph Lauren Kids, J Crew, Madewell, Ann Taylor, Starbucks, Blue Mercury, Sleepy’s, Papyrus, Wallin and Wolf, Vineyard Vines, Crew Cuts, Benefit Cosmetics. Rent’s on Elm are now approaching $90 per foot. If any of those Landlord’s had a vacancy today and had the option of $90 per foot with a credit worthy company or $60 per foot with a small business, what do you think they would do? You are all so quick to blame the Landlord’s. Again, we do not dictate rents, we only react to the marketplace.

        • David. You don’t need to say anything to defend what you do. We should all appreciate your care to work with Westport with your new project. You have the right to do what you can with the properties you own. The rules should not change. It doesn’t for their own homes.

          Should I remind everyone how we defeated Text Amendment I believe 624. That would have limited coverage with homes on .25 acre. Would have destroyed their property value. Amazing how when it effected their homes they cried foul.

          You need only ask these naysayers would they, if selling their home, take less money to insure the home would not be expanded? Or knocked down? Or would they take the highest bidder?

          Too bad so many live in the past and make up these stories of mom and pops or should I say small businesses.

          On the next sunny day someone take a picture of our Main Street. With all the people out shopping and eating in all the new establishments. Our town is vibrant again.

          This amendment is clearly not fair and not good for our town. When taxes go up who screams the loudest?

          There is no way this text amendment gets passed. To bad we have a P&Z that likes to start these fights and cause such issues. But if need be, we will
          Work to defeat this. Unfortunately it will build more ill will in our town. Again, just when things were getting better.

  7. This text amendment is horrible. When will we learn we cannot legislate success. Just look to Lucy’s, a so called mom and pop and see they did not make it. Did everyone shop there.

    P&Z will not decide who will be successful on our Main Street. The consumer will. Urban Outfitters is liked do to their pricing value and selection. The consumer decided they like it. And many shop there

    Let’s also understand the consumer has choice. If somehow we dictate mom and pops and the consumer disagrees they have choice. Stamford. Danbury and Greenwich as an example. Downtown will become a failure if we try and legislate who should move to Main Street. If a store wants more space because the consumer is shopping there, why stop it? Makes no sense. And if we legislate space that stores find too small and don’t come, is that good?

    Can someone define mom and pop? What do they sell? What do they offer? Who are they? Can they fill up Main Street?

    And with the economy and taxes base getting better do we want to ruin that? Really?

    When will we learn the lesson? P&Z will not decide what will drive commerce to Main Streeet. The consumer will. And these so called mysterious mom and pops don’t seem to be what the consumer wants. If they exist at all?

  8. Space in Westport just doesn’t exist like it does in a New Canaan or Fairfield.

  9. Gloria Gouveia, Land Use Consultants

    First, could we all agree to replace the anachronistic reference to “Mom and Pop” with the more accurate term: “small business”? The last Main Street, Westport shop run by Mom at the cash register and Dad in his apron sweeping the sidewalk went out with sarsaparilla.
    Second, although the high cost of commercial rents may be a contributing factor to the current nationwide dearth of small business start ups, in my opinion it is only one of at least a dozen equally compelling reasons for the trend.
    Third, isn’t the fact that it impacts the very part of town that is the focus of at least two committees’ mandates to produce at least two master plans so newly funded with our tax dollars that the ink may still be wet on the purchase orders, enough reason to incite the villagers to descend upon Town Hall with their figurative torches ablaze, regardless of the specific language of the Planning & Zoning Commission’s proposed amendment?
    In short, given the timing, isn’t this a bad idea under any circumstances?
    Moreover, this ill-timed action might easily be misconstrued as ingratitude for the First Selectman’s laudable recent accomplishment in unifying the multi-committee efforts by including the Planning & Zoning Commission in the task.
    And finally, the coup d’gras – Amendment #672. Without deriding the propriety of its intended purpose, the technical issues in the proposed body of regulations alone are sufficient to warrant a return to subcommittee for refinement before bringing the matter to the public hearing forum.
    As former Zoning Enforcement Officer and Zoning Administrator for the Town of Westport, and the principal of a thirty year old, Westport based small business specializing in property matters, I perceive the Commission’s inadvertant disconnect as nothing more ill-intentioned than a case of growing pains — a sometimes necessary rite of passage for any newly formed group of humans learning how to play well together and with others in the public forum.

    • Great points. And may I continue.

      If we all agree to drop ‘mom and pop’ for small business, can we define the size? Revenue? Profit? $1 million? $5 or $10? Who are we trying to attract and so they actually exist.

      I do pint to a company called LuLu Lemon. A quite successful store on Main Street. The history is wonderful. Guy takes a yoga class and sees everyone wearing cotton. Decides to changes to a more appropriate fabric. Opens first store and is wildly succesful. Has to expand

      So how does this work on our high street. We desire small business and whoever they are become successful. They then need and want bigger space. But our own P&Z decide that cannot happen. So they move because they can get bigger space somewhere else?

      Or does P&Z write a new amendment when it occurs that allows expansion of only small businesses that become successful to have more square feet?

      Can you see it now?

  10. Westport has just about lost the family/neighborhood charm that it had when Klein’s ceded to Banana Republic, Remarkable Books faded away, and now Westport Pizza is going, just to name a few. Building monstrous boxes on Main Street and along the Post Road does nothing for the town, but make it look like any other main street anywhere in the country. The Saugatuck River is obscured by parking where it should be a park and pedestrian gathering place, as should be Main Street … without parking so people can enjoy their life without traffic. The Gap is for the benefit of the Gap, Terrain is an eyesore on the Post Road, and coming into Westport from Norwalk or Fairfield is identifiable because the town goes dark and lifeless. Yes, it’s only appropriate that real estate developers will not quench their insatiable thirst until the town is dead.

  11. For those who can’t figure out what “mom and pop” means and would rather use the word, “small business,” they should understand that Mom and Pop stores are about culture and neighbors who know each other. Nothing negative about small businesses, but they are about businesses. Big difference. They can both be about relationships, but if it’s left up to developers and the real estate cartel, it’s about dollars.

  12. JOHN G. LAMBROS

    The remarks by the unidentified RE owner not in favor of the change limited to 10,000 sf of space to anyone tenant is the reason Westport’s character has changed from a small Ct town known for its artistic, and literary life style to a town now known as an outdoor shopping mall. We as a town have lost our identity and trying to become a small version of STAMFORD or MANHATTAN. I am a 44 year resident in our town.

    • John. As you complain about the RE developer who does not mention his name, I ask, what would you like to see on our high street? Somehow I feel you are hiding behind making such comments but cannot define what you think we need. Record store? Book store? Is this 1950 or 2014? Do you write your comment on stationary or a computer?

  13. Shame on us if this motion passes. It is the most self-serving prophecy that will ruin the economics of Westport.

  14. Great idea !
    What Main Street once had was variety, because of small business and, yes, Mom & Pop. You knew the folks behind the counter, like Silvers of Westport, although not on Main Street. Not a clerk from out of town with merchandise sent by a van from NYC.

    BIG is not always boring, but it trends that way. Also, an oligopoly tends to create higher rents and only the big boys can pay those prices.

    It’s not about economics, it’s about character, and keeping BIG OUT enhances character. And isn’t that what Westport should be?

    The landlords comments are self serving. And many of the comments show a complete lack of knowledge about retailing.

    INCOMING ! ;-)

  15. I wholeheartedly support appropriate zoning regs but, at first glance, this seems like a very questionable infringement on the property rights and reasonable expectations of the commercial property owners downtown.

    I much prefer the small-biz flavor of Main Street in the 1960s when I grew up in Westport. But the real estate marketplace within existing zoning regs has dictated the commercial development of Main Street, just as it has dictated the dramatic rise in home prices in Westport since the 1960s.

    I also prefer the economic diversity around town that existed back in the sixties, but I don’t think residential owners would be thrilled with a proposed text amendment that sought to limit future 1/2 acre home/lot sales to buyers with under $100,000 income or 1+acre home/lot sales to buyers with under $150,000 income.

    Wouldn’t such a proposal to achieve more affordable private residential homes be somewhat comparable to the limitations sought in Text Amendment 672 to achieve economic diversity for businesses on Main Street?

    Also, why is it that some individuals are so willing to criticize commercial property owners for maximizing their income potential within existing zoning rules when I’m sure most of these individuals would undoubtedly look to sell or rent their homes for whatever the market says the home is worth?

    I would be willing to hear more about how Text Amendment 672 achieves a suitable planning goal that doesn’t stomp on the rights of commercial property owners but, at first blush, I just don’t see it accomplishing that.

  16. I like what this text amendment is trying to do – preserve the smaller retail spaces that we now have downtown – and I like it even more when I see that a downtown landlord doesn’t like it; these landlords have never had Westport’s best interests in mind, only their own $ interests by charging the highest rent possible (I don’t begrudge them for that, mind you) and that just leads to more large chain stores taking over Main Street and squeezing out the places that define and serve the needs of this Town. I really don’t think we need more of these big chain stores on Main Street, especially if we lose places like Sally’s Place or Westport Pizzeria in the process.

    It seems “They” want a Main Street that has nothing to do with Westport and just has a bunch of big chain stores. The examples given by the unnamed landlord seem to prove this.

    I also see where the unnamed landlord (and some posters) claim that this text amendment is oppressive, citing examples like “Tiffany’s won’t be able to expand their space into the 2nd floor above” (I’m pretty sure no second floor retail is allowed downtown now under the current regulations. They also seem to claim that the 10,000 square foot limitation (which I guess this text amendment wants to apply to a single business) is some kind of brand new idea that must be stopped, but it’s not new, at all; that 10,000 square feet is already in the zoning regulations as maximum limit for commercial floor area for a building downtown – if I can find this the more sophisticated folks here must know about this too but just failed to mention it? Since I think that’s the largest size commercial building allowable in this part of town already, it sure doesn’t seem that holding a single business to this same limit is out of line with the existing rules for downtown.

    • David A. Waldman

      The regulation on the books limiting the size of a building to no more then 10,000 s/f relates only to new construction. So, if a developer wanted to build a new building in the downtown, it could be no more then 10,000 s/f in total FAR. The proposed amendment related to this article deals with existing buildings or the combination of adjacent adjoining buildings. Additionally, the space above Tiffany’s is currently zoned retail and therefore they would be allowed to use it and combine it to there first floor space if they so desired (remember Eddie Bauer).

      As a downtown Landlord, resident, member of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association and now retailer (Java) I for one feel I do understand our town, its character, history and charm and hope our residents and visitors agree that the projects my firm has been involved in have enhanced all of those qualities. Please don’t confuse this statement by thinking I am not in my business to make money. I am and as someone said above, anyone who owns property would like to yield the highest value of his or her property based on the marketplace it is part of. That said, I do believe that those two concepts (value and character) are not mutually exclusive and can and have worked together

      As much as we all may like the Main Street of the past, it is not what it is today because of greedy landlords, zoning regulation, text amendments or anything else as obvious as that. It is solely based on market conditions. Westport is one of the wealthiest towns in the county. Although small in population, it draws visitors from miles away because of all it has to offer. These “high street” chains come to Westport because they know they can generate the sales required to pay the rent being asked. Limiting the size of a store to no more then 10,000 s/f will not bring back Westport Pizza, Party Barn or Sally’s Place. Additionally, in almost all instances the smaller the store the MORE a Landlord can get per foot in rent.

      Back to the amendment, by way of example think about our new Bedford Square Project. After years of planning, meetings, community discussion we finally obtained our approvals. In the end, my partners and I believe that the final project is far better then the originally perceived one, all of which resulted from a tremendous amount of interaction, discussion and negotiation with the town, its municipal departments and residents. Now we are in our construction document phase and have begun to talk to potential tenants. Our plan allows for 2nd floor retail (all totaled about 26,000 s/f) which was grandfathered in based on the prior uses of the Y. Among the many retailers who have looked or are looking at the project (which has spaces as small as 1,100 s/f) is Ralph Lauren. His firm expressed interest in the entire Bedford Mansion. Assuming a deal could be made, his firm would want to occupy 22,000 s/f two levels. I have always thought the Bedford Mansion would make an excellent RL store and there are many other stores like RL who may feel the same and would love to anchor Main Street. If the amendment was enacted, we would not be able to make that happen.

      Although the amendment relates to the BCD/BCD-H, if it, like the 10,000 total building size regulation was in place say 40 years ago, we would not have a stores like; Mitchel’s of Westport, Anthropology, Toy R Us (now Home Goods), CVS (in its newly expanded size), Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Stop and Shop, Crate and Barrel, Barnes and Nobel, just to name a few. I know some may say that is fine with them but think about it. The residents of Westport (yes, I am one and have been for 40+ yrs.) all enjoy the benefit of our retail community. Whether it is our grocery stores or large format stores on the Post Road or our national chains on Main Street, they all add value to the town and amenities to our residents (not to mention keeping our grand list strong and residential taxes lower). If the goal is to incentive Small Business’s to populate the main Street area, there are certainly better to achieve this. I am sure the $200,000 we just approved to allow RBA to come up with a downtown plan is looking at this, and I think that is how it should be approached.

      It is clear that Main Street, or as it has been referred to in this chain “high street” is what it is because sales and demand are strong. No landlord could ask rents, and achieve them, if the marketplace could not support it. That is like saying you want $5,000,000 dollars for your home when the identical home on your street just sold for $1,000,000. It is clear that Main Street is not, nor will it ever be again, the Main Street of the 1960’s; frequented by the residents of Westport for there hardware, gifts, groceries, gas and more. It, like most “high street” Main Streets in affluent areas, has transformed, again based on demand, into luxury shopping districts which draw from the surrounding towns which do not have the demographics to support the high end retail.

      I would also like to point out that our Main Street/Post Road is still littered with small businesses. Examples such as; Bobby Q’s, Chic Jolie (above Blue Mercury), Mikol Jewelers, Henry Lehr, Max’s, dovecote, Fig, House of Clement, Acqua, Spotted Horse, Java, Coffee and Café, Fringe 125, Addison Wells, Great Stuff, Pink Sumo, Top This, Lynn Scalo Designs, Spruce Home and Garden, Odd’s, Soleil Toile, Tavern on Main, Oscar’s, Shoe’s N More, Post 154, Michele’s Pie’s, Matsu Sushi. Spec’s, and that is just off the top of my head. None of these stores would be happy to see the chain stores go. It is the chain stores who drive the traffic to the downtown and enable ALL business to thrive.

      Sorry the above was so long but clearly I have opinions on the subject. I have invested, and continue to invest, in our town. I am proud of what me and my partners have accomplished and look forward to the continued success of our town..

      • Well said, David !
        :-)

      • David. Let me just add one more theme to your wonderful post. None of these stores would exist if the consumer did not want to shop there. At the end, they are the final decision maker. And they have decided they like these stores.

      • Mr. Waldman – interesting that you refer to Trader Joes, Ed Mitchell’s, Whole Foods and Stop and Shop as beloved establishments that would not be permitted downtown by this text amendment – they are located outside of downtown, on the Post Road, because their size did not permit them to be located downtown under the CURRENT zoning regulations – you know, that darn existing 10,000 square foot limitation that you would like to believe doesn’t already exist. These places you list, given their size, don’t belong downtown given their large size (out of character for downtown) and their intense parking demands, and that’s why the PLANNING foresight that was embedded in the downtown zoning regulations long ago (before you were active in your development business) urged these large scale businesses onto the Post Road. Where they have flourished.

        And, while it’s quite true that we now have an over-sized (for the zone) Gap building on Main St. that is a 3-story glassy wonder, that was only possible because you had a pre-existing multi-story commercial building that you used to your advantage – but I wouldn’t refer to that as what we want more of in the downtown area (although I’m sure you would like to have Main St. lined with such buildings!)

        As for a single tenant in the Bedford Square development (which I think looks attractive in the renderings, by the way) I recall you selling this as a mix of a couple of restaurants and various retail and housing uses. A single commercial tenant is what you had in mind all along?

        • David A. Waldman

          Sorry to disagree but your facts are incorrect. The stores I referenced, and acknowledged in my response were outside of the BCD/BCD-H zone, are located where they are because the buildings that they occupy pre-dated the prohibition on buildings over 10,000 s/f. Other than Micthells, which would be a fantastic anchor to Main Street, much like it is on Greenwich Ave., the others were only reference points for consideration if such a restriction was in place many decades ago.

          As for the concept of a grand plan for a single tenant in Bedford Square, I again would like to correct a few mistakes in your comment. Bedford square is a 109,000 mixed use development with 26 residential units and over 70,000 sf of commercial space. Even if we were fortunate enough to make a deal with Ralph Lauren or a similar high quality company, the project would still have many other tenants. Some as small as 600 s/f. It will still have restaurants, office residential, and much more.

          Lastly, like many of the prior posts in this blog, our intentions were to have the flexibility our approvals afforded us. The flexibility dictated by the market. The exact flexibility my fellow landlords have and the exact flexibility the proposed amendment is trying to take away.

  17. what is missing from both Dan’s story and much of the comments is what is truly the core issue – the weekly amendments of zoning regulation which has made the framework of land use policy in Westport extraordinarily complex. Over the past 10 years the community of developers, attorneys and consultants have moved from asking for permission for projects to focusing tactics on first changing the rules to then move forward with projects. perhaps if land use were a process of evaluation, reasonableness and compromise we wouldn’t have the continued pining for the Remarkable, or the demagoguery about market economic forces nor least of all the real estate community abusing the notion of community based standards as then there would be due process, consideration, debate and known rules. perhaps there should just be a moratorium on text amendments?

  18. I can’t say I follow the Westport zoning scene that closely but, from some situations I have observed, Bob might be right on the mark about the potentially problematic approach in the handling of zoning changes in town in general. By that, I mean there have been situations dealt with via a text amendment, which would affect a broader area than necessary, rather than by what is more commonly done in NYC –the special permit process–for a project that is really more about a specific site.

  19. Once upon a time, when the P&Z was newly embarrassed by a jury decision that favored my father in a discrimination case concerning the his nursery business, there were setback regulations passed that impacted a small piece of land that he owned on the Post Road. Since it was the only vacant piece anywhere near there, it was painfully obvious that the powers that “were” were giving my father a spanking. If he were allowed to do what the rest of the small commercial land owners did, I’d be reading this thread from my yacht in the Caribbean. And speaking of timing, how about the folks in town who owned contiguous, undeveloped lots, whose property was merged RETROACTIVELY in the name of Zone change. What? Yep!

  20. Seems to me the P&Z is trying to be sure Westport doesn’t get caught with its pants down as the U.S. retail cycle circles back to “small, local.” We’ve just seen two decades in which large companies have displaced smaller ones, become essential to communities, then begun to limit their offerings or close when earnings sag/internet competition is too much (reference Barnes & Nobles and Whole Foods and Best Buys all over the country).

    And while I don’t believe a bigger Gap or Tiffany’s will materially change Westport’s downtown — to me the appeal is minimal, already, as most options are expensive mall stores I’d avoid no matter where they’re located — I do think we’re vanilla-ing ourselves out of existence as a distinctive, thriving community. Westport holds fast to its self-image as a New England jewel, but the disconnect between how we see ourselves and how ARE is growing. As researcher Brené Brown says, “We don’t intentionally create cultures in our…communities and organizations that fuel disengagement and disconnection,” but “the space between our practiced values…and our aspirational values…is where we lose our employees, our clients…even our own children.”

    • The population of Westport is essentially stable and the same since the 60’s: about 25,000. The difference in having chain stores on Main Street and along the Post Road is about neighborhood and relationships, two qualities that seem lost to many of the posts on this issue. Realtors, landlords and developers need the Gap, Banana Republic and all the other brand names because it’s about money and they are forcing out all the local merchants. Consumers don’t have to rely on chain stores with the Internet and the fact these stores are everywhere. What we are now sorely missing is not our memories of Klein’s and the Remarkable, but local stores like them, where we know people who work there and shop there. Elivira’s is a rather good example. I went there one warm evening just as the door was being locked and knocked on it. One of the family came over immediately, opened the door, and asked how she could help me. I said that I just wanted to pick up a sandwich, and I was told that the grill was already closed, but she would be happy to make a sandwich for me. When I thanked her, she said that she would never refuse a customer. Another time when I was there, a young boy came in for a soda and said he didn’t have any money. One of the family gave him the soda and said he could pay another time. This the culture we should be nurturing, but the landlords and real estate interests quite different. They are, therefore, intentionally creating disengagement and disconnection because they are not thinking of the people of Westport as residents, but only as sources of income.

  21. What’s always rich about property developers is that they will protest any more restrictive zoning regulations but, if they make a mistake by over-paying for a property, they will be the first to have their hands out, looking for a zoning variance, because of their own stupidity with a purchase.

    National Hall was a perfect example. “We have to have a variance because nobody will rent the first floor for retail.” No, numbnuts, nobody will rent at the price you want to charge.

    A homeowner who overpayed for his house doesn’t have the opportunity to turn it into a commercial building just because he’s going to lose money when he sells.

    We should also be so lucky as to look to town government to help us solve our own bad decisions.

    • Chris, I’m not sure that National Hall is a great example. When Arthur Tauck took on that project, the building — Westport’s original town meeting place, dating back to the mid-1800s — was decaying. Fairfield Furniture was long gone; the place was about to be demolished. The Tauck family rehabilitated it beautifully — removing tons of bird droppings in the process — and even donated street lights to the nearby bridge. Can you imagine what would be there now if the Taucks had not stepped in?

      • Yes, and they sold it a few years later at a huge profit. I was on the Zoning Board of Appeals when the Taucks came in for a variance to take down the pre-fab buildings adjacent to National Hall and build a 40,000 SF building in their place. We denied the application, and I received hate mail, vulgar phone calls and death threats, among other things. They came back with an application for four 10,000 building, which we approved, and they certainly improved that area of the west bank. As I noted earlier, National Hall and the four buildings were sold at a huge profit. The Taucks improved that area, but for their own benefit, not because they were good citizens doing it for the good of Westport.

  22. I mean just two or three years ago, Dan. I even had an RTM member say to me (though this was well after I was off of RTM) “better to have offices in it than have it sit empty.” As I said to him, all the owner had to do to get a retail occupant was lower the rent.

  23. Yes, these stores would exist in spite of the outrageous rents and whether or not the Westport stores are profitable because they are showcases and advertisements … loss leaders to announce that they are in luxurious Westport.

  24. Bard,
    Big difference between “consumer” and “Westporter.” That is the point of these comments that you might be missing. Just because the “consumer” shops doesn’t mean its good for Westport, however profitable for the landlords. Using your logic, a porn shop would be economically sound.

    • If you want to drive down rents and values so mom & pop stores could afford to locate on Main Street, you should be all for porn shops. Nothing brings down rents more than a porn store.

  25. Are you saying Westporters are not consumers? Are they not buying at these shops? Both the so called large ones and small ones that exist today? Do we not like others coming into our town to shop? Does that not help our tax base? Do we limit the Levitt to only Westporters or want outsiders to come to hopefully enjoy our restaurants and shops? Could any store or restaurant for that matter both small and large exist is if the only consumer was from Westport? And by the way, we have neighbors child and some parents who work at these stores. Do they not make relations with those they know? I for one believe they do. They have for me and my family. And they give job opportunities for our younger adults and teenagers. Is that not good?

    Are you that insular? Or am I missing something?

  26. Bart
    You are BOGARTING the blog !
    Let everyone weigh in and express their opinion, its called a democracy.

  27. If this amendment passes, does the Takings clause then come into play? Does not the Fifth Amendment compel the government to pay “just compensation” when its action infringes on private property rights? The Fifth amendment extends not only to outright seizures of private property but contract rights. Limiting the size of commercial tenant spaces/precluding the merger of commercial properties, etc. is, make no mistake about it, a seizure of private property rights.

    • Make no mistake about it?

      No – it could be called a number of things, but not that. Your logic could be applied to any zoning regulation. You must have been madder than a wet hen about the Blight Ordinance.

      • Where do you draw the line on blight? Peeling paint? How much peeling paint is allowed? a rusted fence? a lawn that has brown patches or weeds? How would you like the town to approach you and tell you that they’d like you to maintain your lawn or shrubs better. I do take exception with the government determining the level of care an owner must provide for his private property. Our circle of liberty is getting smaller and smaller and we need to do battle weather it be at the Federal, State or City level the encroachment on our personal freedoms. People in this country better wake the hell up or one day when they do wake up its all going to be lost.

        • “Our circle of liberty is getting smaller and smaller and we need to do battle weather it be at the Federal, State or City level the encroachment on our personal freedoms.” — Could you please cite some of this encroachment on personal liberty? You mean like conservatives who want to restrict reproductive rights and marriage rights for all citizens? Because otherwise this is tin-foil-hat stuff.

          So you are okay with me turning my house into a McDonalds? Even if I live next door to you?

          • I already gave any example of encroachment of our personal freedoms: dictating the level of how one should maintain their house. My house is impeccably maintained but I don’t want any government body dictating the condition for which I can keep my house. Also, these restrictions have a way of starting small and expanding. Also, converting the house next door to a McDonalds would require a zoning change from Residential to Commercial. Lets compare apples to oranges. Last, we “conservatives” don’t want to restrict reproductive rights. Have as many babies as you want as long as you can provide for your own kids and not go on the government dole.

            • But ALL zoning restrictions are, existentially, a restriction of your liberty, aren’t they?

              I was kind of looking for examples of INCREASING State and Federal encroachment on my liberties. I’ve heard that feom a lot of LibCons the last five years. What CAN’T you do (or purchase) now that you COULD do (or purchase) a few years ago ?

              (So if you can’t provide for a child, the child should be punished for your irresponsibility? How’s that make sense?)

              • How does it make sense to punish your neighbor if you can’t take care of your child?

                • How does it make sense to punish a child for the faults of a parent, as s/he did nothing wrong? Sentencing her/him to poverty contributes to any number of greater social woes. The unspoken mantra of the LibCon seems to be “An ounce of prevention is an attack on my liberty. A pound of cure… oh, I didn’t think of that.”

                  • What cure? Name one? Has all of the $trillion spent by the neo-Stalinists on a “cure” improved the lot of the poor? BTW the neighbor has done nothing wrong, and if you want the neighbor to support any and all of your children for which you cannot provide support, then the neighbor should most certainly have something to say about your reproductive rights.

                    • I’m just saying that in a civilized society it behooves us to collectively offer assistance to those who can not care for themselves. Because those problems come back at us. Though maybe you would prefer that we send children back to the factories and fields.

                      If you want to call that “Stalinism” maybe you should go back to posting anonymously. Still, good for you for posting under your own name! I keep thinking Lia is my old RTM co-hort Dewey – but maybe I’m wrong. Dewey – if I am wrong I am sorry for mentioning you!

                    • You are wrong, Chris. “Lia” is definitely NOT Dewey.

        • Our freedoms are are being squeezed more rapidly than ever under the current administration. I heard the other day the obama administration is trying to outlaw fireplaces via the EPA.

      • You should pay more attention to the workings of the Blight Ordinance. After the RTM voted for the ordinance, some members of that same RTM, now believe that structures that were designated as blighted are actually of great historical significance and should be saved. A new concept; blight as a part of Westport’s rich heritage. One person’s blight is another’s priceless heritage. It will only get more absurd as time goes by.

        • Actually, I haven’t stated my view on the blight ordinance! Though since the question is implied…

          I do think A blight ordinance is not a bad thing, but THIS blight ordinance is not nearly tightly enough written.

          Certainly, the day will soon come when Town will be debating about a parcel.

          Though I wish we would stop mistaking “old” for “historical.” We end up losing bona fide buildings of merit because they aren’t coincidentally fifty years old. 50 years being the standard for review is moronic.

        • Does anyone remember if any of those that ran for the P&Z a few months back had as part of their ‘platform’ this exact issue?

      • All land use restrictions are takings.

        • So you are okay with your neighbor turning his house into a McDonalds?

          • You missed the point. Not surprising.

            • What, that I’m a Stalinist? Put your Ayn Rand book down and pretend to think about this stuff seriously!

              In a civilized society we cede certain rights to our communities. But those who complain about this the loudest can’t existentially attack (in this case) zoning restrictions, without showing their true stripes, as NIMBY’s aka hypocrites.

              The person who hates all zoning restrictions but doesn’t want a McDonald’s next door is a hypocrite. The person who doesn’t want restrictions on how he develops his commercial property but will go to the government for a zoning variance is a hypocrite..Don’t get me wrong – the person who wouldn’t want the proverbial McDonald’s in his neighbors house but does not object to it going into a person’s house (impacting someone else) on the other side of town is a hypocrite, too.

              • No, you are way off the point. Land use restrictions are a taking. Whether you or I approve of the restriction is completely irrelevant. You are confusing facts with normative statements.

                The McDonald’s two-step is typical of your non-responsiveness. I never said I “hated” anything. You are mistaken. I made a factual statement, one that no serious economist would dispute; land use restrictions are a taking. Now, you want to argue the merits of such restrictions, and that is another debate in which you will not be able to make a cogent argument.

                People who would harm some to help their friends are hypocrites.

                As the Founders said, you cannot cede your rights, they are “unalienable.”

                • As one who actually has a background in Economics, I’m comfortable with my position – though I suppose I could have said citizens cede “powers.”

                  “Takings” are more legal issues than economic ones. SCOTUS has long since decided that Zoning Laws are not “takings” merely because they limit the utility of the land. You clearly are confused as to the difference betweem economic issues and legal ones.

                  Municipal zoning laws in Westport surely don’t pass the bar set by Pennsylvania Coal v. Mahon.

                  I’m still waiting for one of the LibCons to tell me what the State or U.S. won’t let them do (or purchase) that they could a few years ago.

                  • A taking is an economic event, no matter how it is justified. If you limit the ability to use the land, then you are changing the economic value of the land.

                    You can start here on you journey to a better understanding of takings.

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_taking

                    Land use restriction are a way to take something of economic value from one individual and giving it to another. Sort of like wealth redistribution; such actions are not Pareto optimal.

                  • You are a bit confused with respect to the SCOTUS decisions on takings. In some cases the SCOTUS found the takings were reasonable, but they were takings. In other cases the SCOTUS found the takings were not justified, but in both instances there were takings.

                    http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059983522

                  • Hysterical Society

                    I cannot speak for the LibCons, whatever they are, but the government has further infringed on my property rights. A few years ago, I was allowed to demolish my old home after a maximum waiting period of 3 months. The Town of Westport has now doubled that maximum wait period to 6 months.
                    That is a taking! It is a taking from me given to others to preserve their aesthetic vision of Westport.

                    • I do not believe that passes SCOTUS’s bar as a “taking” as it does not materially impact the value of the parcel.

                      Though, if I may suggest, some developers have removed the roofs off of buildings during that review period, fascilitating water damage to the buildings. That way, in order to undermine the hold-up of the demolition (to create a time period which might help faciliate a sale and the preservation of a building of merit – how awful is that!) the developer can say “well look at all of this damage – the building is not salvagable!” assuring that the demolition permit will fly through.

                    • Hysterical Society

                      Chris, my home’s value is certainly impacted by these government-imposed demolition delays. A similar home and lot in Westport, without these historic demo limitations, is worth more to a buyer.

                      BTW, your suggestion to create blight would not work for an owner that wants to live in their home until the demolition occurs.

                    • No one can speak for LibCons; the term is oxymoronic. The argument Chris is making is for a land use restriction to be a taking, the economic consequences of the restriction must “materially impact” (sic) the value of the land for the restriction to be considered a taking. An interesting standard; who gets to decide what is material? The reality is that if you feel it is material, you can sue for compensation or other relief. The fact is land use restrictions diminish the value of land. Some individuals think that by forcing some people to be worse off in order to make their friends better off, they are doing a good deed.

  28. Bruce Fernie - SHS 1970

    Dan, I thought that all folks commenting had to do so with their full verified name… I see Lia, Veteran, dim67, bob and Westporter are not held to that requirement. Whats up?

    • Bruce, I guess you didn’t read the entire story. Here is the final paragraph:

      “06880″ readers — property owners, shoppers, whomever — do you agree or disagree? Hit “comments” to weigh in. NOTE: Because the landlord has asked not to be identified by name, anonymous comments will be allowed for this post only. However, please keep all remarks civil and on target!

  29. I apologize for bringing up the same point again (albeit in a different manner) but the disconnect in the issue regardless of this particular proposed rule is that seems to me to be about the dual role of the P&Z both establishing the property rules and then evaluating proposals with regard to those rules. In other forms of government rule setting and rule evaluation / enforcement are by different arms of government. What I think is the SERIOUS issue is that this is rife in conflict and for abuse.

    The irony of the real estate community (whether unnamed or named in this blog) in essence whining about a distortion on the community of this particular proposal which is utilizing the very tactic that they have promulgated and IMHO “abused” should not be lost. Given their resources and their ability to economically benefit from the politics of attempting to manage P&Z policy through the continuous stream of new proposals to bend the rules into shape to support their projects is anti-democratic at best.

    And before more or repeated voices weigh in to opine about the good old days, market forces, economics, tax policy, consumer behavior of townies and out of towers and free market enterprise (in possibly more patronizing ways to others – and my apologies to those who may be offended by this directness as I mean not to be patronizing) let us please consider the continued bastardization of community planning and development through wayward and haphazard rules designed to achieve commercial and or political goals of just a few but THAT HAVE broad impact on the community.

    Perhaps then we should just establish a 10 year moratorium on text amendments and evaluate projects on a steady state basis as opposed to deal with rule creep and community redevelopment that is only understood by the very few interested in the particular topic, who have the time to scrutinize the arcana as well as deal with the sheer volume of law making which is leaving town planning to likely just those to benefit commercially and a few elected officials.

    • “Let us please consider the continued bastardization of community planning and development through wayward and haphazard rules designed to achieve commercial and or political goals of just a few but THAT HAVE broad impact on the community.” It has ever been thus. The only thing that has ever stood in the way of the normal human desire to maximize profit (and I use that term broadly) is enough other people saying no. I’m scratching my head trying to remember when the local “body politic” has ever done that. Cockenoe was before my time.

    • Bob’s is a fantastic post. Best post of the thread.

      The problem with developers is that they are like libertarian literalists. I can understand someone wanting to maximize the value of a parcel. But community impact is an incidental issue to a developer.

      That is why a P&Z needs to look carefully (and skeptically) at proposals and more strongly consider the input of the community.

      As I say, a developer is all about “I want to use my property however” until they run into a zoning issue, and then it is off to P&Z for a variance or a zoning text amendment, without regard for the neightborhood. It is difficult to imagine a more hypocritical bunch.

      A developer can afford to spend a fortune on a lawyer (aka P&Z lobbyist) to try to get a beneficial change. $100,000 for a lawyer in order get a change that can potential increase the value of a parcel by millions? Well that is a no-brainer – and it’s tax deductible! If you’re a neighboring property owner, can you afford to spend $100,000 on a lawyer just to keep your property from being negatively impacted by the developer? Not so likely. Talk about “a taking.”

      • Chris,
        If Bob’s is first, you get silver ! :-)

      • 1. It is dangerous to be a collectivist and a supporter of the community over the individual. Be careful what you wish for. The “community” is by definition a majoritarian body and majoritarian bodies by definition can and ofter are tyrannical.
        2. There is no hypocrisy should a developer want to go to zoning to get a variance and your statement that they wish to use their property “however”…they get a variance so they can use their property “however”
        3. I think you are being presumptuous to state that a developer can afford to spend a fortune…Maybe some can, many others can’t.
        4. The individual was the supreme concern of our founders; as we have morphed into a Marxist state we ever more suffocate the individual and his or her liberty. We need to be constantly vigilant to protect the individual; remember you are one.

        • 1. Nothing dangerous about it. Use your own name if you want to be taken seriously.
          2. It’s complete hypocrisy – use your own name if you want to be taken seriously.
          3. They can certainly spend more (and expense it) than many residents. But use your own name if you want to be taken seriously.
          4. You are as big a moron as Mike if you think we are in a Marxist state. No wonder you don’t use your own name.

          • :-)

          • “Moron” Gee Chris that’s not nice. I never said we lived in a Marxist state, I did say that neo-Stalinists love to take OPM and give it to their friends. And what was it you said about the imaginary Lib/cons?

          • Chris:
            1. You use your own name and I do not think anybody takes you seriously. It’s content not identity. Do you really think you can be taken seriously while ranting that none of our liberties have been infringed upon by an overzealous government? Is your real name Chris Grimm or is it Eric Holder?
            2. Going back to the earliest days of advanced western thought, a running theme from the earliest Judaic times to Aristotelian arguments to Montesquieu, Locke and then on to Jefferson and our other founders to mention a few; the individual being trampled by the collective has been an issue. An issue that many learned individuals felt to be among the most dangerous. Majoritarian rule or better named “the tyranny of the majority: form our founders to De Toke ville and others is about the nastiest element in a democracy. Your short shift says more about you than anything. Hope you don’t find yourself the wrong skin color or of the wrong religious belief in a small town or facing a jury that has a majoritarian mindset. Arguably the 17th Amendment, which is constitutionally questionable and allowed for even more “majority” rules mentality was the beginning of the 100 year decline of our once great nation.
            3. Your “attack the rich developer mentality” rings of envy and vitriol. Who are you to say what another can or can not afford.
            4. Ad hominum in your last point is not only entertaining but frankly pathetic.
            5. We are in a Marxist state. 90% of the early 20th century socialist platform has been implemented; so much so that the long time socialist candidate for U.S. President said he needn’t run for office any more; that everything he strove for was in place. EBT, SNAP, Section 8, Endless unemployment benefits, obamphones, medicare-aid, prescription drug, social security (where recipients get 10 times out what they put in)….the government redistribution slacker handout list is endless. If this is not what Marx,
            Engels et al utopia, nothing is.

            But please use your real name so you can be taken seriously.

            • I do use my real name. And it is impossible to take seriously people who are too gutless to stand in front of their words. Even Mike does that.

              Point #5 is so nutty that I would shoot myself in the head if I actually believed it. If you can’t stand behind your words, maybe you should do us the favor.

              Seriously, you are clueless. “Obamaphones” – you believe every hoax the teanuts tell you!

              “De Toke ville?” Learn who you are talking about before you post. I’m begging you.

              Once again, proudly posting under my own name…

              • 1. “De Tocqueville” got auto corrected by my spell checker. Is that really all you got?
                2.Please refute my point 5 on a more adult level. “Nutty” embarrasses me. Why am I in a discussion with a child, comes to mind. Juvenile discourse makes both look bad. Step up your game.
                3. Your relentless “own name” tripe is boring.
                4. Speaking of names, I hope “Chris” in your case is being used for a woman. It is very feminine for a man to be an advocate “mommy” government; to want to be taken care of, to be decided for.

                • Just to be clear, you are trying to make fun of my name? Seriously? Nobody has tried to do that in like 40 years.

                  Seriously, it is only boring because you are completely gutless, which is why you don’t use your own name. Then you make excuses for your gutlessness. Be a man or not. But until you use your own name, you aren’t.

                  Are you Lia, too? Wow.

  30. Has anyone not noticed that the body of work is from an anonymous land lord, yet David Waldman — The Wolf of Westport’s Main Street — is jumping into the conversation? My advice to you Mr. Waldman is that next time you anonymously write an article, you should probably comment anonymously also.

    • Ha ha ha
      LMAO :-)

    • Marty. Clearly your comment is out of line. You might have your opinion about development in Westport, but calling someone a name is just wrong. You might have your issues but respect is required.

      David Waldman worked closely with many in town to help create Bedford Square that met many ideas and concerns. It is sad, truly sad, to see the disrespect. He is a Westporter and cared.

      By the way, I saw the picture in Westport Now with all the shoppers on Saturday. I guess some Westporters and others like the stores shops and restaurants.

    • Marty;

      We should all understand the motives of a developer; they don’t do much to hide them. What is more difficult to understand are the motives of the P&Z. The members of the P& Z are elected officials. Their first objective was to get elected; they are politicians. So, I think it would be fair to ask; Why are these politicians asking for these changes at this time? How do they benefit? On the one hand you have developers, and on the other politicians.

      Any developer or potential homeowner, who buys property in Westport should do research into the nature of the town and its government. If you join the circus, you should not be surprised when funny stuff happens. Those developers who are now just waking up to the fact they joined the circus, don’t deserve too much sympathy.

  31. Something most people forget is that developers fall under the category of entrepreneurs and capitalists. They are the ones-the only ones that create jobs and keep the economy going. Despite obama’s claim that government makes people successful, it doesn’t. Hard working developers and entrepreneurs are successful despite government and we need every single one of them. When government gets out of hand, as it has on a Federal level and a state level i.e. Connecticut, we see the results. Drive from Fairfield to Norwalk along post road; do you notice anything? “For rent” signs; hundreds of them. We should be thankful a developer ever wants to invest in Connecticut again. As one of the most business unfriendly and highest tax states in the country we are lucky we are not bankrupt.Thank you heavy handed, tax and regulate Connecticut. And yes, over burdening government affects each and every one of us.

  32. Chris,
    Please stop making sense ! My college major was Economics.
    Don’t waste your time on these bozos ;-)
    But ya gotta love the insanity of anonymity…

  33. 1. What’s wrong with doing well? Why do some commenters refer to Landlords/developers with such contempt? Is the American Dream now dead? I guess Obama has had an impact by demonizing hard work and success. And has any one heard of the adage Doing Well by Doing Good?

    2. I’m amazed at the big deal some are making about those who choose to comment anonymously. Why are users required to identify themselves in connection with each comment in the first place?

    The blog and its readers/users should recognize that many people are not in a professional or personal situation where attaching their name to a comment is feasible.

    If the motivation is simply to reduce the number of drive-by trolls, the blog can verify identities internally by simply asking commenters to create an account.

  34. Dan, as far as I know, I’m only commenting under one name.

  35. This discussion has run its course. I can’t imagine I’ll ever allow anonymous comments again. Comments are closed.