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Appeal of Westport Senior Housing Plans Denied

Updated at 1 p.m.: Westport resident Sumner Glimcher and others who voiced their support for a senior housing and health-care facility on town-owned land can breathe a sigh of relief — for now.

Early Wednesday, the Representative Town Meeting voted 25-4 not to overturn a Planning and Zoning regulation change that would allow the construction of a senior housing and health-care facility on Baron's South , 23 acres of town-owned land.

“Up until three years ago, I worked and had productive income and lived in lovely homes,” said Glimcher, 87, a resident since 1960. “I’m now living on a very modest, inadequate pension. If I can’t get some kind of less expensive housing, I’ll have to leave the community. It’s that simple.”

The regulation change, passed by the Planning and Zoning Commission on May 5, was challenged by resident Bart Shuldman . On May 20, Shuldman submitted a petition signed by 56 residents hoping to overturn the regulation.

Shuldman argued that there were too many questions surrounding the plans for Baron’s South.

“There’s no detailed plan. Let them go back to work, decide what they want, then we can resurrect the text amendment,” Shuldman said.

Shuldman also argued that only about .38 percent of seniors might benefit from the project. All those not benefitted by the development of Baron’s South would be hurt by it, he said, because it would contribute to higher taxes and expenses.

Shuldman was not alone in his concerns. Resident Robert McGee said while he's not against senior housing, he thinks the town is faced with too much “financial uncertainty” at this time.

“Let’s get our ducks in a row first,” McGee said. “If you have a house you can’t meet, would you add an addition or a swimming pool?”

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, who along with Second Selectwoman Shelly Kassen proposed the Baron’s South project, disputed Shuldman’s claims that the project will hurt seniors and raise taxes.

"What we're trying to do is to get a return on Baron's South that you and I paid for in 1999 and aid a section of the population that is the most needy," Joseloff said.

The vote not to overturn came shortly before 1 a.m. after about five hours of discussion.

Do you think the RTM made the right decision?

(This story was first published at 1:10 a.m. and updated to include more information from the meeting.)

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