Very quietly Thursday night — while many Westporters were enjoying the Italian Festival or Huey Lewis and the News — the Planning and Zoning Commission passed a text amendment. Its impact is exponentially greater than either the annual Saugatuck fair or 50 summer nights of Levitt Pavilion entertainment.
The 6-0 vote — removing distance barriers so that more restaurants can serve alcohol — may be a game-changer.
If you’ve been in Westport a while, you know that Fairfield and South Norwalk have leapfrogged us in terms of nightlife vitality and downtown zippitude.
If you’re new to town you probably can’t imagine that once upon a time Westport was filled with hot hangouts: bars like the Bridge Grille next door to acoustic cafes like Grassroots; taverns like Ship’s Lantern just down from dance clubs like Mark’s Place.
The loss of 4 downtown movie theaters was devastating — but so were restrictive regulations that turned Main Street, the Post Road, and across the river into nighttime ghost towns.
The P&Z’s unanimous decision won’t immediately restart our on-life-support night life. But — coupled with changes easing permits for street fairs, and the gestating movement to bring back a movie theater — it may signal the beginning of a much-needed Main Street rebirth.