Compo Acres Renovation: The Sequel

The renovation of Compo Acres Shopping Center has been controversial for several reasons.

As noted yesterday, merchants worry that the ongoing, long-running project will run through the make-or-break holiday season.

They’re not the only ones upset. Neighbors have put up with noise and dust, as the upper back parking lot has been leveled.

The resulting one-level lot is intended to be easier for shoppers and employees — few of whom ever ventured back there.

But it’s also resulting in a loss of privacy. A number of trees were felled and shredded this week.

Compo Acres trees

It may not quite be “paving paradise” to put up a parking lot. But those trees sure were nice.


9 responses to “Compo Acres Renovation: The Sequel

  1. I would occasionally park up there or would use it to hangout while my wife ran in to grab something quick. Are we that fat and lazy that it must be more convenient for us all! By the way…it reminds me of China…no mountain or for that matter hill …is safe.

  2. This former fine town lured me here from my beloved Larchmont,(Westchester ), New York. I see increasingly, so many negative alterations happening TO Westport . It makes me sad !

  3. This project unquestionably creates a more usable rear parking area – but it, (unwittingly I’m sure) exposes those residential neighbors to the most corrosive aspects of commercial activity; light, noise, etc. I understand that more trees needed (or will need) to be removed because the newly exposed embankment visible above has now rendered some of those trees unstable and hazardous. This is exactly what happened to the neighborhood behind Whole Foods in Fairfield. The other thing that will likely happen – well after the music has stopped – is that many of the remaining trees will suffer and die as a result of the blasting that took place. That is the unfortunate but little known hazard associated with blasting. So, when this is over, there will be more useful parking (but still the same congested and really hairy entryways), the neighbors will have a front row seat, having lost their natural buffer and, since they probably didn’t have vibration monitors placed outside their homes before the blasting began, will likely have to eat any related damage. I don’t have any problem with out of town investors whatsoever, I just wonder if, in this case, the human side of things might currently be suffering as a result of the distance. What’s done is done, but for the sake of all concerned I hope that Equity One, which is evidently a financially successful concern, will up its ground game.

  4. Bobbie Herman

    I’m a Preservationist and have always supported neighborhood rights. However, I believe that when people’s privacy has been destroyed by tree-removal on a neighboring or adjacent property, there is a solution That is, to plant trees on your side of the property line. I hate to see trees cut down, but a property owner really has the right to do what he wants with those on his property. As I recall, there was a recent complaint about the loss of privacy due to a builder’s removal of a line of trees during new construction. There’s nothing to stop the “injured party” from planting her own row of trees, is there?

  5. Elisabeth Keane

    I wonder if the developer will address the matter of potential (and it seems to me, likely) erosion on the cliff he has just created. I also hope that he puts in some steps with a walkable scale (not too high, not too steep for people lugging bags) to replace the walking path that everyone in the neighborhood uses to walk to those shops and across the street, too.

  6. Leslie Mahtani

    Hello, as one of the neighbors in the residential area above the Compo Acres Plaza, I’m happy to report that we were able to work with Equity One and the Planning & Zoning Commission to soften the long term effects of this project. Yes, it looks hideous now, and yes, several mature trees are gone. This is unfortunate. The P&Z has all of the information about adjustments Equity One ultimately agreed to make per our suggestions as well as some great ones offered by staff at the P&Z. If you want details, you can look all of this up (it’s known as “374 Post Road East”). The upshot is, a retaining wall will be built to support the exposed hill. EO agreed to build a solid fence running along the top of that fence that will be 6′ high. The actual property line is set back from where the wall will be, about 15-18′; I don’t know the exact figure. By town ordinance (or variance, or some other legal requirement, I don’t remember), the owner of Compo Acres–whoever that may be going forward–must preserve a “tree buffer” from the property line northwards to the edge of the parking lot (soon to be retaining wall.) EO has landscaping plans which show a variety of plantings that will be put in after the wall and fence are in place. From our neighborhood, we’ll see the plantings and the fence behind it. The fence and plantings should help shield our neighborhood from light and sound and protect our privacy. Safety is a huge concern for us and at our and the P&Z’s request, EO has made numerous adjustments to its plans to make the design safe. We’re hopeful that the plans will be implemented as written. On a different subject, EO agreed to limit the times when garbage and recycling materials can be collected. We’re no longer being woken up at night by the clamor of garbage trucks. (Neighbors of the Dunkin Donuts across from Fresh Market were able to get this kind of agreement when it came into that space; we found out about it, and EO respected that (keep this in mind if you live near a commercial area.) By the way, the staff of the P&Z was exceptionally helpful. They are smart and very professional. When we neighbors visited the office with questions, they extended themselves to make sure we understood the parameters of the project and our rights. Thanks to Save Westport Now, who I haven’t yet thanked directly, we found out about the magnitude of the project. If this group hadn’t distributed flyers to residents of our neighborhood, we never would have known the scope of this enormous project. As things stand now, property owners who plan changes are obligated to inform neighbors within a certain radius of the property, but the requirements for describing the project are woefully inadequate. The document sent to us by EO/P&Z gave a cursory description of the project that said nothing about flattening the parking lot, blasting, removing trees, etc. If you receive a notice from a nearby property owner (I believe it’s a copy of a form it has to submit to P&Z), please look into it carefully. I spoke with Jonathan Steinberg about this briefly in July, and when the electoral dust settles, I’ll contact him again about requiring property owners to give detailed and accurate descriptions of their plans and this implications of construction projects. In any event, after SWN’s flyer arrived, we were alarmed and went right to P&Z to gather facts. We did everything possible to remain calm and professional and I think this was helpful. EO was willing to work with us, though I must say the process wasn’t entirely smooth sailing because a certain member of the team didn’t feel it necessary to take us seriously. Nevertheless, we persisted and as I mentioned, the end result should offer our neighborhood some valuable concessions. We do appreciate EO’s willingness to listen to our concerns and revise certain aspects of the plans based most of our recommendations.

    For the record, I do feel terrible for the merchants–if the construction continues from mid-November through the New Year, they will take a huge hit financially and could potentially lose the goodwill of their customers through no fault of their own. I support writing to all of those people at EO that the prior post mentions.

    • Leslie – Thanks for the facts. I guess jumping to conclusions is not always the best idea. Turns out Equity One is not pure evil incarnate. Just a minor demon. Who knew.

    • SWN is here to help residents protect their rights and work with them as needed to assure they are not subjected to unwarranted encroachments. kudos to Leslie and her neighbors for taking such positive action.