But when Ashley Skatoff moved to Westport in 2008, Rogers Septic Tanks caught her eye. It was an actual service company — one of the few left on the Post Road.
One day, she pulled in and asked to take some pictures. Sure, the man (whose name she does not recall) said. He was proud — and a wonderful subject.
Ashley says, “I loved the spot and the images, because they were larger than Rogers and larger than Westport. There is so much humanity on that plot of land, and I thought it came through in pictures from that day. This could be anywhere in the United States.”
“I believe the earth has good energy there – it was like a different dimension – and whatever goes there next will inherit that energy and pass it on through the next humanity that spends time on it.”
What’s next is — possibly — 32 housing units. The 1- and 2-bedroom development is in the permit approval phase with town boards.
“I am sad to see this treasure fading away,” Ashley says.”He really enjoyed that I could appreciate the gem — enough to stop — and gave me a tour.
“That day he said he hoped a restaurant got the space, and would be able to salvage the building and the part of it that would still be cool. He had vision.”
For Westport, this has been a winter without much snow.
But a blizzard of 8-30g proposals continues to swirl all over town.
8-30g is the official name of Connecticut’s affordable housing statute. It mandates that municipalities make 10 percent of their housing stock “affordable” (according to a state formula). Though Westport has a variety of such units, many were built before 1990 — the date upon which the standards are based.
Which means that developers now eye all kinds of property. Incorporating 8-30g housing helps ease the legal path toward approval.
This week, a plan was submitted for 5 residential buildings on the Roger’s Septic Tank site at 1480 Post Road East. It includes 18 1-bedroom apartments, 14 more with 2 bedrooms — and would be 30% affordable housing, as defined by 8-30g. (Click here for the complete application.)
Roger’s Septic Tanks, Post Road East
The property — between the Rio Bravo/Julian’s Pizza strip mall, and a gas station — is a throwback to the days before the Post Road was greened and cleaned. Roger’s was there for decades; before that, it was Bob’s Welding.
Several years ago, a private agreement was reached between the owner of the commercial site and homeowners on Cottage Lane — which runs behind — stipulating that no housing could be built on the property. The agreement did not involve the town. A legal battle is sure to ensue.
Meanwhile, a couple of hundred yards east, there’s talk that several properties are being gathered together for at least one 8-30g proposal. These includes Redi-Cut Carpet, Innovation Luggage and Pane e Bene restaurant; houses behind it on George Street; the now-shuttered Sono Baking Company and adjacent A&J’s Farm Market, and the Westport Tennis Club behind it.
Those properties are not all contiguous, so there could be more than one proposal. No applications have yet been filed.
The former A&J Farm Market.
Next month, another proposal — much more concrete, in the works for far longer, and at the opposite end of Westport — comes (again) before the Planning & Zoning Commission.
Felix Charney will be back with yet another plan to construct 187 units on Hiawatha Lane. The narrow road is accessible by West Ferry Lane off Saugatuck Avenue, between I-95 exit 17 and the railroad station parking lot. The developer hopes to create a “medium density housing opportunity zone” there.
The P&Z is up to its eyeballs in 8-30g issues. Still on the docket: 20-26 South Morningside Drive (where discussions continue about the historic Walter and Naiad Einsel property), and on-again, off-again 81-unit Lincoln Street/Cross Street/Post Road West development (it’s back on).
The fate of 20-26 Morningside Drive South — on Walter and Naiad Einsel’s former property — remains in doubt. (Photo/Anna DeVito)
But wait! There’s more!
This week, a legal challenge was filed after the commission turned down an application for 122 Wilton Road. That’s the 1.16-acre parcel at 122 Wilton Road — at the Kings Highway North intersection, adjacent to the Taylortown Salt Marsh and wetlands. A developer wants to build a 19-unit, 3-story, 20,078-square foot rental complex there.
“Complex” is the right word, for all these proposals.
Though it’s easy to see why developers look at the 8-30g statute, and see a cash register.
And why they’re filing a blizzard of applications and lawsuits now. As of April — thanks to recent construction like 1177 Post Road East, opposite Greens Farms Elementary School — Westport may qualify for a 4-year moratorium on affordable housing proposals.
Like shoppers stocking up on bread and milk before a snowstorm, developers race to beat the clock.
It’s taken decades, but the Post Road — at least in Westport — now looks decent. Trees and flowers grace many businesses; shopping centers have been renovated, office buildings constructed with at least lip service given to looks.
Then there is Roger’s Septic Tanks.
“06880” has nothing against septic systems. Without them, we would definitely be up that proverbial creek.
But Roger’s is just about the last holdout, long after the rest of the Post Road was greened and preened. Trucks and septic tank innards fill the dirt lot, with no pretense of landscaping to be found.
Roger's Septic Tanks. The flowers in the foreground belong to the BP gas station next door.
“06880” reader Wendy Crowther reminds us the site has a storied history. Before Roger, the place was called Bob’s Welding. Donna Summer shot an early music video there. Wendy can’t remember the song, but says sparks from welding equipment flew around in the background.
That was its high point. For years it’s been an eyesore.
Now a “For Lease” sign stands out front. It’s a “development site” — suggested as “office space.”
This may be the 1st time in history we’d love to see a new bank built.
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