WESTPORT, Conn. The following letter was submitted by Westport resident Valerie Seiling Jacobs.
It's time to elect Planning and Zoning commissioners who are willing to protect neighborhoods and listen to the public.
During the past few years, the P&Z has been tone deaf to the concerns of Westport residents. Since 2009, homeowners have been so dissatisfied that they have appealed four of the P&Z's text amendments, and two of those decisions were actually overturned despite the fact that they required a "super-majority" vote of the Representative Town Meeting. That is reportedly more than double the number of appeals and reversals that P&Z has experienced in its entire 50-year history. (P&Z would likely have suffered a fifth appeal had not it hastily withdrawn its recent plan to allow 60-foot-tall buildings downtown.)
Under the guidance of its chairman, this commission has often supported business interests at the expense of residential neighborhoods and has bristled at the idea of any appellate review. Take the Inn at National Hall debacle, for example. After the RTM overturned the P&Z's developer-friendly text amendment, Mr. Corwin urged his fellow commissioners to sue the RTM. (Never mind that the town attorney advised against it or that the Town Charter specifically provides for such checks and balances.)
Amazingly, Mr. Corwin admitted on the record that he and others were "elected and some people gave money and contributed to us to try and get these things done." A video clip of his admission can be viewed here .
A few months later, when confronted with neighborhood opposition to another proposal, Mr. Corwin suddenly adopted a ban on partisan T-shirts and signs at public hearings, notwithstanding the fact that the new rule probably violates the First Amendment.
It is time to wrest control from this chairman and to refocus the town's planning and zoning efforts on residents. Unfortunately, Mr. Corwin is not up for re-election this year, but we can accomplish the same objective by electing ALL FOUR of Save Westport Now's P&Z candidates. Save Westport Now has been at the forefront of many of these P&Z battles and has selected candidates who it believes are committed to protecting neighborhoods and residents' rights.
If you too want to take back the reins, then I urge you to vote for Jack Whittle, Cathy Walsh, Chip Stephens and Al Gratrix on the Save Westport Now line.
Valerie Seiling Jacobs
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