P&Z To Address Downtown, Baron’s South Regs

Two important parts of Westport — downtown and Baron’s South — are on the Planning & Zoning Commission’s agenda next week.

The virtual meeting on Monday (February 7, 7 p.m.) includes text amendments to eliminate the prohibition on retail above the 1st floor on Main Street and environs; another to remove the prohibition limiting tenant size to 10,000 square feet in the same area, and an amendment to permit certain non-team activities in the open space nearby.

Proponents say removing the ban on 2nd floor retail would attract mom-and-pop-type shops, thanks to lower rents. A change allowing larger stores would eliminate the current practice of some tenants having separate entrances and branding for what are essentially the same stores.

The Architectural Review Board and Historic District Commission would retain oversight over the looks of downtown properties.

Retail is not permitted above the first floor on Main Street — though certain properties (like the Gap) are grandfathered in.


The Baron’s South proposal addresses current regulations, which prohibit organized non-team activities like guided walks, hikes and yoga classes in the meadow outside the Senior Center. Both the Senior Center and Parks & Recreation have indicated support for the text amendment, which would still prohibit organized team sports.

A prohibition against new structures — for example, pickleball courts — would also remain.

Guided hikes are currently prohibited on Baron’s South. (Photo/Judy James)

At the meeting, the P& will also consider proposals to opt out of 2 state provisions. One would enable the town of Westport to maintain its own requirements for accessory dwelling units. The other would allow the town to retain current regulations for the number of parking units required for multi-family dwellings.

If the P&Z chooses to opt out of those less strict state requirements, the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) must also agree by a super-majority vote.

Full details are available here. Monday’s meeting will be livestreamed at www.westportct.gov. To submit comments, click here.

5 responses to “P&Z To Address Downtown, Baron’s South Regs

  1. Donald Bergmann

    We should all greatly appreciate the efforts of Dan Woog and The Westport Journal to keep us advised of important actions of this nature. Note also that this meeting of the P&Z Commission is, I believe, the first since the Commission elected to move its historic meeting date, Thursday, to Monday. As to specifics, I will simply say that I do not support the change to the 10,000 sq. ft. single occupancy limit downtown. I have conveyed my analysis to the P&Z Commission.

  2. Jay Walshon MD FACEP

    According to my research and detailed analysis of the evolution of the DOSRD#2 zoning regulation, I believe that the P&Z Department/Commission has misinterpreted the wording in the current regulation. The activities being described in the above posting are “passive” and therefore currently allowed. This in not just my opinion but also the opinion of former P&Z Commissioners who drafted the language in 2015/2016. Therefore no amendment is necessary, and for a variety of reasons is ill-advised. Text amendments should only be considered when absolutely necessary.

    To read my comprehensive analysis, here’s a link:

    You will need to scroll down the page to find Text Amendment #809 and under “Public Comments” click on my “Email from Jay M Walshon 2-3-22”.

    I hope that Westport residents will take the time to read my comprehensive evaluation.

    Dr J

  3. Wendy Crowther

    As Dr. Walshon points out above, Barons South’s existing zoning designation was never meant to prohibit passive uses like those named above, nor to prevent small groups of people from doing passive things. We all have the good sense to know the difference between organized team and competitive uses compared to small gatherings that are educational, peaceful, observational or soulful.

    The DOSRD #2 zoning reg isn’t broken and doesn’t need fixing. And Barons South doesn’t need a new zoning amendment to encourage passive use.

    What it DOES need is some minimally intrusive, environmentally sensitive, tender loving care. The town and its Parks & Rec Dept have nearly abandoned all upkeep of the property for two decades. This is the real reason use is limited.

    If the town invests energy and money in gentle improvements rather than in zoning amendments, users will come. And small groups doing yoga, meditating, bird-watching, painting, and hiking will be welcome, as always.

  4. Wendy and Dr. J, you are both correct. No text amendment changes needed. Someone began misinterpreting both the language and the intention of this regulation many years ago. Our P&Z director Larry Bradley wrote it correctly the first time. No debates or changes needed. Just enjoy the serenity. Lots of parking at the Senior Center lower lot.

  5. Michael Shafrir

    Besides being environmentally irresponsible, minimum-parking space requirements are used as a cudgel against affordable, multi-family dwellings, the type this town could use more of, especially near our train stations.