After 2 months, the strike at the Westport Health Care Center continues. The chants and noise-making have died down, but dozens of nursing home caregivers still protest what they call unfair labor practices at the Burr Road facility.
Meanwhile, the nursing home’s owner — New Jersey-based HealthBridge/Care One — is gearing up for another battle. This Thursday (September 6, 7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium), the Planning & Zoning Commission holds a public hearing. Item 1 on the agenda is an application to rezone 2 properties on Lincoln Street — off Post Road West, parallel to Burr Road — from “Zone A Residential” to “Restricted Office Retail District.”
Healthbridge hopes to buy and tear down the 2 homes, and replace them with a 26-car parking lot. Neighbors fear it will be “lit and used around the clock, 7 days a week.”
Nearly 2 dozen residents of the area oppose the application. A few neighbors favor it.
Lincoln Street today.
Last month — with both houses listed on the town’s Historic Resources Inventory — the Historic District Commission heard testimony and received letters from neighbors. A majority opposed the zoning change. The commission then voted unanimously to oppose the request for a change. Their memo cited “a serious intrusion, and irreparable damage to the existing residential character of this distinctive historic neighborhood.”
The 2 homes are multi-family, moderate-incoming housing. Including a cottage, 6 housing units would be lost.
Opponents of the application cite a Connecticut Historical Commission description from 1988:
Lincoln Street is the only known, turn-of-the-century speculative development on the west side of the river, and it is very important because it is a complete, intact, period streetscape.
Lincoln Street, around the turn of the 20th century.
(Lincoln Street) retains its early-20th century character, and should be preserved as a record of the residential development.
Lincoln Street may not be paradise. But it’s handsome, and home to many longtime Westporters.
Will Healthbridge demolish those homes, pave them, and put up a parking lot?