Tag Archives: Westport Planning & Zoning Commission

New Daycare Coming To Saugatuck

Lost amid last night’s Planning & Zoning Commission approvals of 9 housing units at 500 Main Street, and a Post Road East dispensary, was one other item.

The board unanimously passed a special permit and site plan for a Goddard School daycare center and outdoor playground at 20 Saugatuck Avenue.

That’s the former location of AAA, a quick-mart and gym, among other tenants. It’s since been upgraded, but has stood vacant for a while.

This morning — after the vote — a few neighbors voiced concern about traffic and noise.

Of course, a previous plan for the site — ultimately withdrawn — was a Tesla service center.

20 Saugatuck Avenue is currently vacant.

P&Z Okays 500 Main Street, 1 Dispensary

Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission gave thumb’s-up last night to 2 hotly debated proposals.

By a 5-2 vote, the board approved 9 housing units at 500 Main Street (the old Daybreak Nurseries 2.18-acre site near Merritt Parkway Exit 42).

In a scaled-down version of its original plan, Able Construction will be able to build 2 2-family homes, and 5 1-family homes. All will be restricted to owners 55 and over.

The Planning & Zoning Commission approved 9 housing units for this site.

Late in the evening, the P&Z voted 4-2 (1 abstention) to allow a medical marijuana dispensary at 1460 Post Road East. The spot — around the shopping center corner from the old Pier 1 Imports — was most recently occupied by Coco Spa.

The applicant — Bluepoint Wellness — must still be approved by Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection.

If approved by the state, this will be the site of Westport’s only medical marijuana dispensary.

The P&Z denied 4 other medical marijuana proposals, all on the Post Road: the former Bertucci’s restaurant; a site near the Southport border (Stanton Miles/Jennifer Furniture); the old DXL menswear/Blockbuster store, and the Academy of Dance building.

Reasons for those denials included safety, traffic, lack of parking and location relative to zoning regulations.

Noticing The P&Z

Zoning is a hot button Westport issue.

Homes on the old Daybreak property off Main Street. 81 housing units on Post Road West. Medical marijuana dispensaries from Southport to Norwalk.

Now, there’s a hot button to click on.

The Planning & Zoning Commission has spent months figuring out how to alert more Westporters — in a more timely manner — about upcoming hearings.

The traditional — and state-mandated — methods are legal notices in newspapers, and snail mail sent to neighbors. A while ago, Westport added email alerts.

But legal notices are hard to find (besides, no one reads newspapers anymore); mail is not exactly a 21st-century tool, and few people know about the email option.

A typical legal notice.

So the P&Z added a button on the official town website home page. It links to each legal notice, with further links to all applications. No more clicking through multiple tabs to find P&Z, then searching for  notices — or visiting Town Hall to review materials.

But the P&Z wants to do even more.

A subcommittee meeting this Tuesday (May 1, 12:30 p.m., Town Hall Room 201) will explore other ways to spread the word about upcoming meetings and issues. The public is invited to attend, and offer ideas.

Of course, not everyone can make it Town Hall on a Tuesday afternoon. Proposals for new communication methods can also be sent to pzdept@westportct.gov (put “Improving Public Notice” in the subject line).

The P&Z wants to hear especially from Westporters who feel they’ve been left out of the process in the past.

Dispensary Applicants Offer Education In Edibles

This Thursday (April 5, 7 p.m., Town Hall), the Planning & Zoning Commission considers 3 applications to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Westport.

A cloud of controversy has swirled around the proposals, which include the 2nd floor of the old Bertucci’s restaurant (now a weed-filled lot, with overgrown grass); the former Blockbuster video rental store, and the Academy of Dance. Last year, the P&Z approved up to 2 dispensaries in Westport.

Among their arguments, opponents cite the potential harmful effects of marijuana. Several “06880” commenters worry about the specter of bongs in storefront windows.

The applicants say such fears are overblown. Medical marijuana, they say, has come a long way from the old days.

There are now many more ways to ingest the drug. It’s used to treat a variety of diseases, from Crohn’s, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis, to the appetite loss, nausea and pain associated with chemotherapy.

There are sprays, patches and topicals. “Edibles” — cannabis available in food form — are particularly popular.

So — in an effort to educate Westporters on modern medical marijuana — the 3 applicants have joined forces. They’ll offer free samples to P&Z members — and any adults attending Thursday’s meeting.

The samples are legal under a section of the state statute legalizing medical marijuana. Doses of up to .05 ounce may be provided to anyone over 21, once a year, “for educational purposes only.”

The applicants will provide cannabis-infused cookies, popcorn, crackers, nut mixes, lollipops, ice cream, gummy bears, chocolate bars and chews.

A variety of medical marijuana edibles.

“This is a joint effort between all 3,” says Mary Jane Roche, spokeswoman for one of the organizations vying for a Westport location. “We’re not trying to stir the pot.”

“We’re taking the high road,” notes Bud Kush, CEO of a 2nd group. “To be blunt, if we didn’t try to educate politicians and residents, we’d have wasted an opportunity.”

“Westport is not filled with dopes,” he adds. “There are well-meaning people with good intentions on both sides of the issue. We want to hash this out intelligently, and do be good citizens.”

(Pre-registration is required for Thursday’s P&Z meeting. To register, or for more information, click here.) 

[UPDATE] 3rd Site Proposed For Medical Marijuana Dispensary

The Planning & Zoning Commission meets April 5 to continue its public hearing on medical marijuana dispensaries.

Three proposals are on the agenda.

One involves the former Bertucci’s restaurant on the Post Road, near the Sherwood Island Connector.

The 2nd is for the old Blockbuster store.

The 3rd proposal is for 345 Post Road West.

That’s the Academy of Dance building, near the Norwalk border.

The Academy of Dance, on Post Road West.

The dance studio sent out this message:

It has been brought to our attention that our landlords have filed an “Application for Special Permit” to attempt to make this location eligible for a CT Medical Marijuana Dispensary. We were not aware of these intentions and we are working with our landlords to better understand their recent actions.

It is important for our dance community to know that we are bound by a current lease that entitles us to remain at 345 Post Road West as we have done successfully for many years.

The Academy says their “classes, performances, privacy and typical routines” will not be disrupted or infringed upon. They’re not closing, and they don’t intend to move.

Sounds as if the applicant — “FFD Westport LLC” — has found a location smaller than the 2 big locations so many residents complained about at the last meeting.

But it’s clear the current tenants are not going to just waltz away.

(The P&Z meeting on Thursday, April 5 begins at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.)

P&Z Denies Daybreak, Postpones Pot

Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission took action last night on one contentious issue, and heard from a herd of residents on another.

By a vote of 4-2, the board denied a proposal by Able Construction to build 11 homes at the former Daybreak Nurseries site on Main Street, near Weston Road. The units would have been restricted to people age 55 and older.

Neighborhood opposition, traffic concerns and possible soil contamination were among the major objections raised, before the vote.

Able Construction hoped to build 11 units of housing.off Main Street and Weston Road.

Residents also voiced strong opposition to proposals for 2 medical marijuana dispensaries on the Post Road. One is for the now-shuttered Bertucci’s restaurant, near the Sherwood Island Connector; the other is at the former Blockbuster video rental store near North Maple Avenue.

Among the opponents: 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

No vote was taken. The P&Z will hear more from the public on April 5.

The former Bertucci’s — site of one of the proposed medical marijuana dispensaries.

Next Up For P&Z: 2 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries In Town?

The first 2 items on the Planning & Zoning Commission agenda for Thursday, March 15, are straightforward: applications for a building and parking lot on Elm Street.

The second 2 items are different.

Shoreline Alternative Care — which runs the new integrative pharmacy near Shake Shack — is applying for a special permit and site plan approval for a medical marijuana dispensary facility, and a change of use from restaurant non-patron area to retail, for 833 Post Road East. That’s the former Bertucci’s restaurant, at the foot of the Sherwood Island Connector.

Then, Acreage Connecticut LLC requests a special permit and site plan approval for its own medical marijuana facility and wellness center, for 1505 Post Road East. That’s the former Blockbuster video rental center.

Connecticut legalized medical marijuana in 2012. There are currently 9 dispensaries in the state. Two are in Milford; one each are in Bethel, Branford, Bristol, Hartford, South Windsor, Uncasville and Waterbury.

There are 4 grow facilities, in Portland, Simsbury, Watertown and West Haven.

The P&Z’s March 15 meeting is at 7 p.m., in Town Hall. The public may comment on the applications. Click here for the full agenda.

(Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

On The Meeting Docket — And Off

In November, Westport’s Parks & Recreation Commission unanimously approved construction of a new walkway and bathrooms at South Beach — the no-lifeguard, cookout grill, alcohol-permitted section beloved by picnickers and sunset-watchers.

The walkway will be similar to the one installed 2 years ago, from the pavilion near Joey’s to the cannons. Made of cement, it features wooden railings open to access every 2 cars.

It will connect to the current walkway at the cannons. It continues to the cut-through road near the kayak launch, then joins the gravel marina walkway via a crosswalk.

The current roadway would shift slightly north, to accommodate the new walkway. Several parking spots would be lost.

Plans for the new walkway and bathrooms at South Beach. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

The bathroom — to be built on an unpaved area just south of the pickleball courts — will include an outdoor shower and water fountain. The exterior is white with blue trim, and brick accents.

The projected cost for the walkway is $429,643. The bathroom cost is $257,473.

This Thursday (February 15, 7 p.m., Town Hall), the Planning & Zoning Commission will discuss the proposal. The meeting is open to the public.

One meeting that will not be held is the Saugatuck Transit Oriented Design Master Plan Steering Committee. Their study — funded by a $450,000 state grant — was to be presented at a public session this Monday.

According to RTM member Matthew Mandell, “changes requested from the last meeting were so broad that there was no way to get a new draft in time.”

It’s unclear, Mandell adds, whether the public meeting will be rescheduled — or if there will be public comment at all.

He does not even know if the committee will vote to accept the report — which includes parking decks, new housing units, new retail and office play, but did not include a traffic study.

The state has extended the deadline for the TOD report to be filed. It’s now due in late March.

Coalition: Let’s Notice P&Z Proposals

The North Avenue water tanks. The Daybreak property. The excavation behind Compo Acres Shopping Center.

All 3 proposals — and many others — were legally noticed by Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

But not many Westporters read the teeny-tiny, buried-in-the-back legals in newspapers like the Norwalk Hour.

Or subscribe to email notifications from the town.

Or open the letters that get sent to the nearest neighbors.

Some neighbors were surprised by excavation work done in 2014 behind Compo Acres Shopping Center.

The P&Z knows this is an issue. They’re exploring additional ways to spread the word about upcoming applications.

The Coalition for Westport hopes to push them along.

The ad hoc, town development-focused group has filed a proposed text amendment with the P&Z. It would require posting a physical sign on any property subject to upcoming debate. It would be similar to the signs erected by restaurant owners when they request a liquor permit.

The P&Z will discuss the Coalition’s idea on February 1, at Town Hall.

You’re reading about it here because it’s not yet law. Also, because you don’t read the Hour. 

Plus, there’s no property on which to put a sign about it.

Next New Mixed-Use Development? The Empty Lot Off Long Lots.

Come for the Daybreak application. Stay for another one that’s flown way under the radar.

Thursday’s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting (Town Hall, auditorium, 7 p.m.) was already expected to draw a crowd. The first item is 500 Main Street — the old Daybreak Nursery site. Able Construction is proposing to build 12 age-restricted, 2-bedroom houses. As seen from the comments on yesterday’s “06880” story, there are strong feelings for and against.

The 2nd item has drawn less attention. “DMC Westport” wants to develop 793 Post Road East/5 Long Lots Road.

That’s the empty lot between Westport Wash & Wax and Ruta Court, opposite the old Bertucci’s.

The proposed development would be built at 793 Post Road East (shown here) …

Like the Daybreak area, this is a neighborhood with lots of traffic. Every morning, a line of cars — coming from drop-offs at Staples, Bedford and Long Lots schools, plus folks commuting into town — backs up on Long Lots Road.

Like Daybreak too, the Post Road/Long Lots property may have soil issues from previous owners (a landscaping company and gas station, respectively).

… and extends to 5 Long Lots Road (above).

But while Daybreak neighbors are concerned about 12 homes, those on Ruta Court and Long Lots have bigger issues.

Literally.

DMC Westport is proposing 2 mixed-use buildings — 3 stories, 10,000 square feet each. Retail and offices would occupy the first floor; residences would be above.

Plus 4 more 3-story buildings, at the rear of the property. Two would include 4 townhouses each; 3 would have 3 townhouses apiece.

There would be room too for 93 parking spaces.

If you’re going to Town Hall on Thursday, get ready for a long night.

A site plan for 793 Post Road East/5 Long Lots Road. Click on or hover over to enlarge.