Hope Klein Langer is an “06880” fan. She likes the stories of “experiences that resonate with all generations of Westporters,” and the “healthy dialogue about community issues” that follows.
Hope has a community issue of her own. It concerns trees: those on private property, which affect neighbors and neighborhoods. She writes:
The beauty of Westport is that it is a place where people come to plant their roots and build their family. Unlike many towns, people come back year after year because there is a community feel that simply can’t be matched or replaced.
Both of my daughters are Staples graduates. I became a grandmother to a baby boy just a few months ago. There are little things that I look forward to doing with my grandson: playing at Compo Beach, walking along Main Street, and taking him for a milkshake at the Sherwood Diner!
However, there is no ignoring the many changes that our beautiful little town has faced throughout the years—for better and worse.
A few weeks ago, without any prior notice, the developer of property next door to my home ripped out all of the trees that divided our properties for 50 years. These evergreens stood probably 40-50 feet tall. and were there long before we arrived 23 years ago. There were at least 25 to 35 of them.
Yes, these trees are technically on the developer’s land (by mere inches). And yes, they are just trees.
But having lived in this home at 163 Bayberry Lane for over 20 years, these trees and this home are part of my roots. I am devastated to see them torn down, with little regard for the way it might affect me and my family.
The trees were almost on my property line. Taking into consideration the setback laws, they were not in the developer’s’ building envelope. Though not important to him, they contributed greatly to our privacy and sense of security.
When I called the builder, his response was, “I don’t really care about your property. I am here to make money.” I have been a Realtor in this town for 23 years, but I am appalled at his disregard for our neighborhood and my home.
It’s hard to ignore the silent tug-of-war between the new Westport and the old. If nothing else, I hope my story will plant a seed of compassion in those who are in the business of overhauling our sweet town. I hope we can find a way to meet in the middle, and preserve the community that has been such a magnificent place to call home. For example, our laws should be discussed and re-evaluated before Westport loses all of its charm and beautiful mature trees.
I am passionate about the preservation of this incredible town. I will make changing the town’s regulations one of my daily jobs. Laws must be put into place to prevent builders from cutting down mature greenery that has nothing to do with construction of the next soulless McMansion.
Many towns have such rules. It’s high time for our government to protect the character of our neighborhoods — and for developers to display common respect, before clear-cutting nature out of what we hold dear.