The weather this week has suddenly turned cool. But tonight’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting could presage hot times to come.
“Hot” as in “turning Westport into a hot spot.”
Or “hot” as in “people are outraged.”
This evening at Town Hall (7 p.m.), the P&Z considers “text amendment 637.” The bureaucratic-sounding term is a proposal for a “Theater Overlay Zone.”
That‘s policy-talk for a new zoning concept. It would remove setback and height restrictions, permitting buildings up to 6 stories in downtown Westport.
It would also increase the square footage of certain commercial buildings, from the current 10,000 square feet to 50,000 square feet.
A driving force behind the proposal is the desire for a movie theater downtown. The amendment would not require additional parking if the theater is located within 500 feet of a municipal parking lot with at least 3 spaces. Parker Harding Plaza, the Baldwin lot (behind Williams-Sonoma) and the Imperial Avenue lot all qualify.
The text amendment pleases Westporters who say a movie theater would revitalize downtown.
It displeases Westporters — including some circulating a petition against it — who say a 6-story building would destroy that same downtown.
So far, the text amendment/zoning issue has not gotten much press.
After tonight — no matter what the weather outside — Westport’s political temperature will rise.