Westport Inn Proposal: Traffic And Safety Trump All

There are over 125 miles of roads in Westport. But through November 28 of this year, 6.4% of all reported traffic incidents happened on one small stretch of the Post Road: between Maple and Bulkley Avenues.

That’s the area with no traffic lights, and a couple of dangerous crosswalks. Four pedestrians have been killed there since 2008.

It’s also the spot where a developer hopes to tear down the Westport Inn, and replace it with a 200-unit apartment complex.

The heavily trafficked stretch of Post Road East near the Westport Inn. Sasco Creek Village is on the right; Lansdowne Condos (not shown) are on the left. (Photo/Google Street View)

The heavily trafficked stretch of Post Road East near the Westport Inn. Sasco Creek Village is on the right; Lansdowne Condos (not shown) are on the left. (Photo/Google Street View)

“This is not a NIMBY issue,” says a neighbor opposing the proposal. Jan Winston is president of the Lansdowne Condominium complex, across the street and a few yards east of the site.

Winston — a 28-year resident of the condos — points out that directly across from Lansdowne is the former “trailer park.” Now called Sasco Creek Village, it is being modernized — and enlarged. When completed next year, there will be 93 units of affordable housing, up from the current 72.

“There hasn’t been a peep from us” about the increased housing across the street, Winston says. “Many residents of Lansdowne fully support” affordable housing.

However, he notes, part of the what is driving the Westport Inn proposal is Connecticut’s Affordable Housing Statute. Known as “8-30G,” it allows developers to add “affordable units” that override local zoning regulations, in towns where less than 10 percent of the housing stock is considered affordable.

“You can’t put another 200 units there,” says longtime Lansdowne resident Mike Turin. “The number of cars accessing and exiting the Post Road in that area will be overwhelming.”

A drawing of the proposed apartment complex, as seen on Change.org.

A drawing of the proposed apartment complex, as seen on Change.org.

Winston and Turin know there is plenty of opposition to the new plan, for many reasons. Westporters are concerned about the impact on schools, wetlands, sewers and the height of the proposed complex. Winston also acknowledges that Westport is far from the state’s 10% affordable housing mandate.

However, he says, “this particular development — with 373 parking spaces for 200 units — is not the way to get there. It terrifies us.”

He foresees tremendous traffic issues. It’s simply too dense for the 2.4-acre property. Lansdowne, he  notes, has 90 units on 34 acres.

So where could the next affordable housing complex in Westport be built?

“I have no clue,” Winston admits. “I don’t pretend to be a surrogate for the P&Z.

“I just want to know 2 things. What are the rules — not only for affordable housing, but safety on this really dangerous stretch of road? And how does the town get to the right goal?”

 

 

9 responses to “Westport Inn Proposal: Traffic And Safety Trump All

  1. The state has only 2 criteria for location decision making on the legal criteria. Health & Safety.

  2. Karen Huppi Vail

    I’m curious about what the affordable housing is going for, dollar wise.

  3. If it were not for a particular requirement of State Statute 8 30g that designated properties be deed restricted for 40 years, there is a possibility Westport would be close to or possibly already meet the 10% affordable housing requirement. All one needs to do is check out the number of houses on Riverside and other areas of town that have been subdivided into rental apartments. The problem is that landlords cannot afford to declare the properties affordable as the deed restriction would have a negative effect on the eventual resale value of the properties. Those who are interested in fighting this legislation may want to focus on the deed restriction and see if there is any chance to exclude or modify this requirement.

    • Cheryl McKenna

      Excellent idea! Also I wonder why the Westport housing authority ( a state run organization) has not proposed going up one floor on the canal park units. They are low impact quiet and an affordable housing area.
      This way we can stop these unsafe high impact monster buildings from rising up in this old town.

  4. Matthew Mandell

    The RTM P&Z Committee will be holding an 8-30g informational for the community on Tuesday January 20th. The Town Attorney as well as the director of P&Z in addition to others to try and explain the entire situation. There will also be public input as well.

  5. Michael Calise

    Trying to stop projects such as this is no different than trying to heal a festering sore when the real illness is systemic. These problems will continue to surface and eventually ruin Westport as has been done in other towns in Connecticut. The real solution is for the public to attack Hartford en masse and get rid of the political element that is fostering 830-G!

  6. Just checked to see what other states are doing with deed restrictions and found Oregon is 10 years, Illinois is 5 years and NY is 14 years. One needs to wonder how Connecticut ever got to a 40 year requirement?

  7. Jeff Block’s comment is notable. Our local legislators, Boucher, Hwang, Lavielle and Steinberg have expressed interest in trying to make some modest changes to 8-30g. The reduction of the forty year deed restriction should be pursued. With a lessened length of time, more people are likely to designate an existing home apartment as “affordable”. Don Bergmann

  8. Our legislators have no shot at getting any traction regarding 8-30g. The applicant’s, for the above project, have hired the big guns who helped to craft the original 8-30g legislation. Our town attorney’s are both capable and have fought effectively against them before. Let’s hope the neighbors become interveners and fight the good fight!