A Sneak Peek At What’s Coming Down The Pike…

…or, more accurately, next to the Turnpike.

And on the Post Road.

A Westporter with political connections gives some background:

Connecticut legislation known as 8-30g mandates that new development projects include 30% “affordable” residential units. Developers around the state have made humongous proposals that include large amounts of affordable housing — then “offer” a “compromise” of scaling back, in order to get what they really originally wanted.

Last week, a developer came to Town Hall with an application to demolish the Westport Inn. In its place would come 2 levels of underground parking. On top would be 2 stories of housing — with 50 units per floor. It would be the largest new building on the Post Road in decades — rivaling the Wright Street office complex across town.

The Westport Inn has stood on the Post Road East since 1960 (it started as a motel). It may not stay there forever.

The Westport Inn has stood on the Post Road East since 1960 (it started as a motel). It may not stay there forever.

Also across town from the Westport Inn, a developer is eyeing Hiawatha Lane. That’s the limited access neighborhood adjacent to the I-95 Exit 17 on/off ramp, which already includes some of the most affordable houses in Westport. The developer would like to build 100 — maybe even 200 — units of housing there.

If both — or even one — of those proposals passes the many approval hurdles, it would affect every aspect of life in Westport. Education, traffic, emergency services, you name it — all would be impacted, in a variety of ways.

Neither proposal is on the Planning & Zoning calendar yet, where such developments usually begin.

But people on the street — Post Road East, Saugatuck Avenue, and points in between — are already talking about them.

38 responses to “A Sneak Peek At What’s Coming Down The Pike…

  1. Cheryl McKenna

    Well now the town will see why not approving Barons South by P and Z will come back to haunt us…although we still would not meet the requirements it was a classy start …. And it lowered the number so it became less attractive to the big boys.
    Let’s hope Rose and company ( the developer for barons south) or another developer with a new RFP can rework the numbers and let’s get it done this time otherwise our lovely Westport is open to some hungry developers that see an opening here…they will work at lighting speed . This should be watched but our procedures should slow them down.
    These developers are bigger and tougher… They will use 830(g) as just the first push.

  2. I, unfortunately know about 8-30g as I was an Interviener in an 8-30g lawsuit…so I have some experience…that was not planned as part of what I intended 6 long years would be. Ms McKenna…this developer just didn’t snap “their fingers” and decide that because Baron’s got turned down by the P&Z ,for all the right reasons, my opinion…and it was a lousy deal for town owned property and who could have really afforded it anyway…not the average retired person. Facts… It works only when both sides benefit. That just why the Westport Inn has a chance… It is close to shopping and on a main transportation route. Building this will not stop any future plans for Baron’s 8-30g or not. By the way, Rose is a credible and respectable developer with a great track record for senior housing. That is a fact based on their track record.

    • These developers have been looking for years in Westport Jamie Walsh.
      My point is that when Barons South was rejected by P and Z after BOF required more money for the town these developers have the opening to file before Westport and Rose can redo.
      Affordable senior housing that was proposed is much different than affordable housing to families that need to educate -feed -use recreational activities – etc etc etc
      Our Selectman are doing a great job in steering out town to some senior housing some re zoning of single family homes to 2 family and it apartments with affordability stipulations.
      I could go on but until this law is changed we must be on a slow boat to comply yes??
      Barons South complied in a classy senior housing all inclusive way … Let’s hope Rose and Company can bang out new numbers and this time P and Z understands what is at stake .
      We should all watch what P and Z approves with which developers . Vote to remove if you disagree with them in our next election cycle.

  3. Oh On Hiawatha this is an example of a bad 8-30g. Destruction of a neighborhood and an old neighborhood that survived…the railroad and I-95 is now being challenged again by a relentless developer.

  4. Maybe a Republican Govenor would be a start to changing the legislation ?
    🙂

  5. Bart Shuldman

    Does the existing Text Amendment that was approved to allow the first type of project on Barons South help these projects? That text amendment is still in place as the new one that would have changed the rules was turned down?

    With this type of housing, can any speculate how many more would be added to our schools? The board of finance, I believe, projects the costs for each student entering our schools around $30k. If true, how much will our taxes have to rise to pay for the new students?

  6. David J. Loffredo

    The Norden Park project is more than a decade in the making – has nothing to do with Baron’s South – more do to with access to a sewer line. Our schools and stores and train cars are already overflowing – I can’t imagine another 200-300 families cramming into town.

  7. Westport cannot afford to continue to allow individual 8-30g projects to be proposed or we will be overwhelmed by density, tax increases, impacts on schools, infrastructure issues etc etc etc. The Marpe Administration took a proactive approach to downtown development by setting up the Downtown Steering Committee but the Administration needs to be far more inclusive in addressing the rest of Westport. Projects such as Barons South should be revisited with a more substantive ratio of affordable units however, what the the town must do now is to have a moratorium on future 8-30g project proposals until a plan is developed that addresses the state mandate in such a way that we can intelligently and affordably absorb its impact without losing the character and quality of life Westporters have come to expect and deserve.

  8. Matthew Mandell

    The Westport Inn has nothing to do with any other project approved or not in town. It is a move to bring in greater profit to a project that otherwise could be built. 200 units with 30% affordable makes more than 75 units with 20% affordable, That’s the fact. The latter is what could be built at the Inn under our current zoning. The former will be at our expense as noted with schools, police, fire, traffic and trains all being impacted.

    We cannot create a moratorium on 8-30gs by law. We can do it through creation of affordable units, but then that’s just 2 years and that’s nothing in development time. The Hiawatha lane project has waited 7 years.

    8-30g is a well intentioned law to create needed housing, but is completely misplaced and a threat to our town, character and finances. It is something we all must vigorously monitor and oppose.

    I hope Dan continues to post updates on this issue and these projects. These are very long and drawn out fights and keeping people informed is imperative.

    • Cheryl McKenna

      Yes M. Mandell it is imperative to be transparent and informed by the town.
      Why not a weekly update to current proposals on town web site that include affordable units in Westport as a doubt 06880 will continue to follow nor does his blog only cater to real estate issues in Westport.

    • Well said, Matt.
      However for anyone who believes that by voting to change the political parties of our governor or state legislators will have a timely impact on status of section 8-30g, ponder this and think again:
      Earlier this year Bill No. 5511, which would have significantly ameliorated the requirements of Section 8-30g, was trounced by the General Assembly’s Housing Committee in a report dated March 14, 2014.
      In a cogent recitation of the history of and the facts bearing upon Section 8-30g, the report identifies an inventory of findings in support of its contuation unabridged.
      The housing committee’s statement was endorsed by the Connecticut Housing Coalition, the Partnership For Strong Communities, the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Connecticut, and the Legal Assistant Resource Center of Connecticut.
      In short, it would appear that neither the cause nor the resultant effect was rooted in party politics.
      “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

      • Cheryl McKenna

        Admirable … I applaud this effort and I will be there watching as well.
        May I ask why it went into disrepair storm Sandy or unloved by parks and rec?
        Remember to vote for people who do their jobs well and vote out those that do not.
        Parks and rec have had the same guy Stuart McCarthy for over 25 years … Might it be time for a change?
        Think …vote local it effects you

    • “…a threat to our town, character and finances.” Did I just stumble on onto 1950’s era Mississippi blog?

  9. Michael Calise

    830G was created and has been continuously championed by a Democratic controlled legislature that is determined to destroy local zoning. The solutions are as bad as the threat. The only viable solution is to elect a Republican majority in our legislature with the charge to protect our local zoning by the repeal of 830G.

    • Cheryl McKenna

      Until then we need to approve and plan for more affordable housing units.
      Perhaps Westport Housing Authority a state organization can advise us to another Canal Park type of development that we actually can monitor through social services to give housing to needy Westporters ..?

  10. To those who, after reading the above, are still bent on creating more “residential opportunities” in downtown Westport…call your office.

  11. David J. Loffredo

    http://www.pschousing.org/housingprofiles2013/PSC_2013HsgProfile_Westport.pdf

    In Westport, 2.7% of our 10.399 housing units are officially classified as Affordable (282/10.399) – and 8-30g remains a very real probability until we reach 10% – which means we need to add 758 more affordable units to get out from under the constant threat.

    We are a town filled with NIMBY Liberals – this one might come back to bite us unless there’s real change in Hartford.

  12. Matthew Mandell

    Oh stop with this democrat, liberal BS. It goes beyond that. We have a state where some parts don’t care about the other. And we can’t change who gets elected elsewhere.

    I have no issue with affordable housing. I think it is right to create it, especially where we think to works best and with the right density. We can never make enough though to get away from 8-30g, never and even if we tried we’d be killing ourselves trying to get there.

    So there we are with a big problem. And I laugh when I read that the Builders association is behind support for 8-30g. Sure 200 unit 4 story buildings………

    • “Oh stop with this democrat, liberal BS.” Please, Matt, stop it. Republicans, conservatives, libertarians are, for the most part, anti 8-30g (unless they can make money off of it of course). Democrats and liberals are, for the most part, for “affordable housing” except, as David pointed out, “Not in my backyard”.

      Westport, with the highest property values (but the lowest property taxes for equivalent houses or house prices) in CT east of Darien, and with a heavily Democrat leaning voting record, somehow can’t find it in their hearts to allow affordable housing in Westport because it might cause property taxes to go up to pay for the additional “burden” on town services. All the while hiding behind “density” concerns.

      Here is a news flash for you – “affordable housing” can’t be built in Westport with 1+ acre zoning. Or even .1+ acre zoning. Only was it can work economically is with density.

      So, you can pretend you support affordable housing to assuage your liberal guilt, but effectively block it by demanding “the right density” for ecological/tax burden or whatever other non-anti-8-30g rationalization you can come up with.

      Dude, at least be honest with yourself. True supporters would push it pretty much at whatever cost because it is the right thing to do. Learn a lesson from Estelle Margolis.

      Citizens of Bridgeport weep for you.

  13. On another note, what’s going to happen if they take over the Westport Inn? It’s nice to be able to actually stay in Westport when I go back to visit, rather than going to Fairfield or Norwalk. Maybe someone should build an affordable hotel…

  14. How is “affordable” defined in Westport ???

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      Hi Holly,
      “Affordable” is defined in Westport exactly the same as everyplace else: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
      Best always,
      Eric

  15. Bart Shuldman

    Michael. Thank you. If we elect the change that is needed then we can stop worrying about this.

    I do find it interesting that when you relate this project to the impact on schools that many are all of a sudden against it. All the people come together if it effects schools and taxes. And maybe, just maybe, this will wake up our town and elect the right people

    If not, expect huge issued in the long run with our schools and taxes.

  16. Bart Shuldman

    The same that might want it are the same that worry about school size, classroom size and taxes. Let’s remember the bulk of our town taxes go to our school budget-including all the use of transferring funds between accounts.

    If people started to focus on the outcome if these decisions and how it will personally effect them, then hopefully we can stop all this.

    At $30k a student, and the amount of new students, how bad will this effect our town?

    Again, Maybe those that think they support it will come to realize it is all bad. And maybe the seniors in town will realize they will witness much higher taxes and further drive them out of Westport.

  17. Matthew Mandell

    Jerry and all you miss my point. We can’t vote in or out the people who created, support and continue to ram this down our throats. They don’t live where we vote. So while you blame democrats or liberals it matters not. Period. While they might well be dems, it comes from their situation, mostly the cities, not their political ideology. They say Westport step up, do you part, and we don’t care if it costs you your character or school and road infrastructure to do it.

    Now we can have affordable housing in the our town. And no, it does not have to be in the 1 and 1/2 acre lots, nor the 2 and 3s in the outer areas (thankfully we have held sewers back). Post Road is the answer and the P&Z created an overlay zone that allows for many properties to build 18 units per acre with 20% affordable and they get a bunch of bennies to do so. As a matter of fact the property at the Inn is one of these.

  18. Bart Shuldman

    There is no doubt that changing the governor would help us all. From stopping any chance of a tax increase as we know Governor Malloy would do, to his poor management of our states financial condition and I could go on, to stopping him from giving away $150 million of our hard earned money to a multi billion hedge fund to move to Malloys home town.

    And hopefully we will replace Steinberg also do someone in Hartford could really represent our needs.

    If course changing hartford would help.

  19. Bart Shuldman

    Matt. Really think what you are saying. And think about it from a business perspective.

    • Matthew Mandell

      The legislature put this in years ago and there have been govs with all parties since. They control this.

  20. Carolanne Curry

    The developer who wants to demolish all the moderately priced, working class homes on Hiawatha Lane Extention in Saugatuck cares only about his proposed “150 units of housing” and how he can hold the town of Westport hostage to a current State housing law, which calls upon each town in Connecticut to have economic diversity in it’s housing stock.
    Felix Charney of Summit Saugatuck LLC has been trying since 2005 to use this State law as a tool to destroy this community, which has been a positive working model for diversity in housing in Westport long before Charney ever showed up.
    We can use all the help we can get to save out neighborhood because Felix Charney is about to try again in 2014, to take over this neighborhood.
    diversity.
    its all about the money, isn’t it?

  21. The way to really stop this nonsense is to vote and show your state you are fed up with regulations like this. Don’t vite by party, but vote for those that will not support regulations like this that can truly hurt Westport.

    Vote for Brandi who will go to Hartford and fight against those the feel this regulation is good. Vote against Malloy that not only supports this but has proven he will raise taxes to pay for his spending. Don’t think Malloy will not raise taxes again that will continue to make CT a difficult place for both residents and businesses. And a vote for Brandi will also help to stop the tax and spend actions by Hartford.

    You have a chance to make a statement in November. If you truly want this to stop you will vote and show Hartford. It is your choice. You are not voting for a party but for people that will fight for your interests. Again, your choice.

    • Cheryl McKenna

      Do not tell people who to vote for. Ask your representatives to reply directly to the question.. How will you vote on 830(g ) …
      I think you’ll be surprised as to their answers
      VOTE local

      • Bart Shuldman

        Are you saying Mr Steinberg would vote against his party to stop this? Please tell. And let’s get him in record so if he wins we can rely on him to vote against it.

        Would Steinberg vote against any more tax increases his governor might try and pass? Please. Let’s get him in record.

        I 100% agree. Vote local. Vote who will help us Westporters and not follow party politics. Please. Let’s get it all on record.

        There is so much more given how bad CT finances are to get it all on record. But let’s start with this. Will Steinberg vote against his party? Will he promise to do so.

        And by the way I am telling anyone who to vote for. You have your right to vote for whoever you want. I am just building an argument for all of us to look at the election and use it as our way to show our ‘voice’.

      • Bart Shuldman

        Cheryl. In writing about the election I would like to address an issue that could effect our beloved Dan Woog. Could he not get the pension he has been promised? I would suggest more people get ‘educated’ on this subject quickly and vote ‘local’ for someone who will not ‘kick the can down the road’. And it would Be interesting to understand Mr Steinbergs voting record. This is very serious.

        Please read:
        Retired Connecticut state employees received the highest annual pensions in the country in 2011, despite contributing less out of their paychecks than the national average. That meant the state’s pension system was the second-most underfunded in the United States, in worse shape than every other state’s except Illinois’.
        Connecticut would have to allocate about $70 million in additional funds each year for 18 years to close the funding gap in the major state employees’ pension system, according to actuarial estimates. And that wouldn’t address the $11 billion gap in the teachers’ retirement system, which would need tens of millions of dollars more every year during that same period.
        To demonstrate the size of the problem: It would cost each man, woman and child in the state $12,157 to close the $44 billion funding gap afflicting the state’s two largest pension systems and its two retiree health benefit programs. Since the mid-1990s, the state rarely has met its required contribution, although it did so in 2013.
        Now, closing the gap means either higher taxes, more borrowing, new sources of revenue or less to spend on education and social services or – more likely – all the above.
        “There is a financial time bomb that is ticking,” said Art Renner, executive director of the Connecticut Society of CPAs. “If we continue to let elected officials ignore these problems at some point in time, we are going to find ourselves in a similar situation as Detroit or Illinois, which are in bad shape.

        • No pension for me. I’m not a full-time employee.

          Plus, here’s an interesting factoid about coaches: the more successful we are, the less we make. Because we have a fixed stipend, if we qualify for post-season tournaments we work more weeks than if we didn’t. So, on an hourly basis, we get paid less. On the other hand, we know that when we sign our contracts!

          On the third hand, most of us are involved with our teams nearly all year long, in some way or another (fitness workouts, going to coaching courses, etc.). That is why we do what we do – and we do so quite willingly.

          • Bart Shuldman

            Dan thanks for clarification. And congratulations on the upset win against Danbury. Good luck Monday against Greenwich. Looks like you are right about the pay!! Success.

            By the way, looks like the state is projecting a $1.4 billion deficit in the next year fiscal budget. Not good for anyone.