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Letter: Change the Planning and Zoning Commission

WESTPORT, Conn. – The following letter was submitted by Westport member Michael Krawiec, a Republican on the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Four years ago, Westport elected me to the Planning and Zoning Commission. I found it to be a tremendous opportunity and am grateful to you for allowing me to serve. My term is up this month and I've chosen not to pursue re-election.

Those who follow the Planning and Zoning Commission know what a tumultuous four years it has been with many controversial issues being brought before the commission. The commission's members are all volunteers and spend a great deal of time working to keep Westport the great town it is. Unfortunately, not all members of the commission have the same views of what the Westport of the future should look like and how the P&Z Commission should conduct its business

In the past four years, certain members of the commission have, amongst other things, repeatedly ignored sound legal advice from the town's attorney (remember to the threat to sue the RTM?), repeatedly advocated for and attempted to change the zoning regulations to significantly increase building height in our commercial zones (remember 60' buildings?), and sought to limit free speech (remember the 8"x10" sign that said "No"?).

The P&Z Commission has gone from a quiet commission to a headline grabbing (seeking?) commission. How many times will it take the RTM overturning the P&Z before the commissioners in the majority get the hint?

I opposed all of these controversial positions and believe the P&Z Commission should keep a low profile and not take an activist role in town. That is why I am endorsing Cathy Walsh, Jack Whittle, Al Gratrix and Chip Stephens for the P&Z. These four individuals all have similar views on Westport.

This election is about changing the direction of the P&Z. Unfortunately, this only happens with a change in the current party majority. All who are running are well qualified, but only Cathy Walsh, Jack Whittle, Al Gratrix and Chip Stephens can change the commission.

I have worked with Cathy Walsh and Al Gratrix on the P&Z Commission for the past three years, and have found them to be a vocal proponent of neighbors rights, good visionaries, and not afraid to ask the tough questions. We are fortunate to have Jack Whittle and Chip Stephens running with Cathy and Al. All four have a unique skill set and solid business experience. Jack is a regulatory attorney, Chip is a microbiologist, Al is a biochemist and environmental biologist, and Cathy is an economist.

If you have not been happy with the positions the P&Z has taken recently, the only way change will happen is for a new majority and commission leadership to be elected. That is why you need to vote for Walsh, Gratrix, Whittle and Stephens—the four candidates endorsed by the Republican Party and Save Westport Now.

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