[UPDATE] New Townhouse Proposal For Post Road

Many Westporters have no idea what goes on at 900 Post Road East. The lot next to Walgreens, across from the Sherwood Diner, is filled with trucks and mounds of sand.

In fact, it’s a maintenance lot for the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

At least, it is now.

Sometime in the future though, it could be the site of new townhouses. Eighty or 90% could be “affordable” — under state 8-30g standards — while the rest would sell or rent at market rates.

As first reported by the Westport Newstown officials — including 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and the Planning & Zoning Commission — are in very preliminary discussions with the state. The complex would be built on 4 of the 10.73 acres, along West Parish Road.

900 Post Road East

Early indications are that some nearby residents favor the move. They prefer townhouses to trucks in their back yards.

Others, however, oppose more development in the Greens Farms/Post Road area. New housing — some affordable, others for seniors, most at market rate — has gone up recently near Greens Farms Elementary School, and the foot of Long Lots Road.

Affordable housing is mandated by the state. It is not optional. In Westport, that translates to people earning just under $80,000 a year, says P&Z chair Danielle Dobin. That includes teachers, firefighters, police officers, other town employees, young people and seniors.

The P&Z’s Affordable Housing sub-committee meets today (Friday, January 10, 12 noon, Westport Town Hall Room 201). It’s the first of many meetings about this proposal.

21 responses to “[UPDATE] New Townhouse Proposal For Post Road

  1. Brian Schiller

    Hi Dan. Question: When are our town officials going to step up to these developers and stop the over building (mostly of condo/ apartment buildings)? Our once beautiful, quaint, small coastal town is turning into a small city and the charm of Westport is beginning to disappear. Very sad.


  2. Kathy Fassman

    More traffic on the Post Road!
    Right by the ‘connecter’.
    Oh joy!

  3. How can post road handle more traffic when the traffic lights can’t even be programmed correctly? Who will own the land? Who profits in these deals? I see lots of land near highways, railroads that is starting to be developed or recently has been developed in other towns. Curious how land is being sold / bid on or if they are just sweetheart deals.

  4. Even if DOT did somehow agree to give the Westport Housing Authority (whose project this actually is) state property, one has to ask if this is the highest and best use of the land. We’ve run out of room for emergency services and a central location for same would be huge. The Housing Authority – which is not connected with the town – can certainly afford to buy land on the Post Road for affordable housing. The town, however, isn’t in the same position when it comes to acquiring valuable land for police and fire facilities.

    As an aside, the proposed curb cut on the Sherwood Island connector might get approved. Lots of bad things do. But it’s reckless.

    Instead of warehousing humans at the back of a noisy maintenance facility that runs 24/7, how about treating those who wish to live here with a little more respect? Who wants to live in a high rise ghetto? The more compassionate move is to integrate small, affordable dwellings into existing residential neighborhoods. Has everyone forgotten that we’re just sitting on really nice residential structures (most of which are empty) in the middle of downtown Westport (Barons South). What, for instance, is stopping us from repurposing 72 Compo Road South, a cool vintage cottage, as deed restricted affordable? We own it. And it’s empty.

    • I’m a librarian (not wealthy) and would love to live in a cool vintage cottage!

      • Repurposing and integrating affordable housing is truly inclusive. We encourage it downtown as long as density, traffic and overall life safety is considered. It can be done without massing.

    • Several years ago, when I serving on the RTM, I took up the challenge and pushed to have the town own property at 72 Compo Road South deed restricted as affordable housing. As part of my efforts I even got a inside tour of the place by town officials.

      You want to know what we found? The entire kitchen had previously been ripped out by Public Works employees to ensure that it would remain uninhabitable and thus safe for their ongoing storage use. Our own town employees – acting as vandals. Needless to say, my efforts to have it deed restricted suffered the same fate as that kitchen.

    • Dermot Meuchner

      “A high rise ghetto “. I think you could have chosen a more nuanced way to express your opposition to this proposal.

  5. Barbara Jane Ryan

    Enough is enough. I agree with Brian.

  6. Just what we don’t need!

  7. John D McCarthy

    Hasn’t this property been eyed as a place for the town to keep school buses overnight? I forgot the exact number but the town pays a considerable amount annually to park buses downtown.

    If multi-family housing is going to be built on this state property would much prefer it be 100% affordable than the 10-20% proposed, as we need to be thinking about the next 8-30g moratorium. And don’t we already have a glut of newly built market-rate condos in this town?

    • John,
      The proposal is min 80% affordable.
      You are correct, the BOE /town have tried to secure this land for school bus parking several times. DOT turned down all previous requests.
      It’s a new day and a new conversation. This letter is only a request for a meeting to explore the possibility.
      There are a lot of moving pieces that need to fall into place.

  8. Lots to unpack in these comments. “Warehousing humans,” “high-rise ghetto,” “vertical ‘reservation.'” Is that a dog whistle I hear? As for “Just what we don’t need,” you might want to check with local restaurateurs and retailers about that. The population of Westport was 27,318 in 1970 and 27,777 in 2017, and what I see all over town are vacant store fronts and shuttered eateries. I would be interested in knowing more about the demographics of who’s moving into the “glut of newly built market-rate condos” in town. I suspect they are a combo of millennials, empty nesters, and lower-wage people looking to avoid long commutes by living closer to where they work — like in our schools, shops, and offices. As for making better use of prime state-owned land for local purposes, here are my thoughts from 2015: https://06880danwoog.com/2015/04/18/hey-dot-move-your-asphalt/

  9. David J. Loffredo

    I agree with John – if this is going to happen on State land bought for $1, it should be 100% affordable to give Westporters the maximum 8-30g benefit, and not some moneymaker for political insiders.

  10. The letter to the state requesting the land was signed by our P&Z chairwoman…this is pure malfeasance since THAT CHAIRWOMAN WILL VOTE ON THE APPLICATION FOR THE HOUSING AND SIGNING THE REQUEST LETTER CLEARLY DEMONSTRATES THAT SHE HAS ALREADY MADE UP HER MIND.This should simply not be tolerated. Were she known to have done such on ANY other application, she would be asked to recuse herself.

    • Agree. However well intentioned, this was the P&Z Commission essentially prejudging a project that it would be later voting on as an application. The applicant was even present and sitting alongside the Commission members. Just the appearance of a conflict is sufficient cause for concern.

  11. William Strittmatter

    I’d have thought by now that you all would have realized that 8-30g is not going away.

    While Westport might have achieved the moratorium, the whole point of the moratorium is to give towns time to coherently solve their affordable housing quota problem on their own terms without pressure from “greedy developers”. If the town doesn’t do anything, the “greedy developers” will eventually be back with a vengeance.

    By the way, for those of you holding out hope of repeal, your elected State officials have made no effort and have shown zero desire to amend or repeal 8-30g. They haven’t even made a half hearted attempt to leverage their needed votes (e.g. Will Haskell’s on tolls) to even move the needle on the rules (e.g. like counting units developed before the cut-off date for Westport). Indeed, your state representative Steinberg is on record as saying towns should get their act together and develop affordable housing.

    Further, as Bart Shuldman (and others) used to regularly point out, privately developed 8-30g developments do little to move the needle in getting Westport to the 10% goal but significantly add density and households to the community. No one wants that…

    So here is a chance to make a meaningful dent (80%+ affordable) in the goal in an economic manner due to free land (if the proposal to the state is accepted) in a location where it will not meaningfully infringe on any residential neighborhoods. Absent repeal (which ain’t happening), it doesn’t really get any better than that, except making it 100% affordable.

    Other “solutions” proposed is the comments are nice but unrealistic.

    Baron’s South existing structures. Great idea but it’s a couple of units at best. Probably worth doing but it doesn’t move the needle.

    Integrate smaller affordable houses into neighborhoods. Similarly great idea but where? And with what money? Even with the current weakness in the real estate market, land isn’t cheap in Westport.

    But why not give this a shot? Let’s start now. Anyone here willing to deed restrict their property to make it “affordable”? Anyone here willing to sell their property for $1 to the town to make it happen? Anyone here want to subdivide their property and give the town the empty lot to develop? Or develop it themselves and put in a affordable rental unit? Or even agree to sign a pledge to not fight it at P&Z if their neighbor proposes to do just that? Or do you simply hope someone else magically will do it?

    I’m sure Dan would be willing to be the conduit to accumulate the list for all of you who are willing to commit to do any of the above. However, I have $1,000 to Dan’s favorite charity that the number of legally binding commitments submitted to Dan in the next 30 days to convert all or part of their property to affordable housing (with legally binding commitments from abutters to not challenge if a variance would be needed) is less than 10.