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Calise Continues Zoning Battle

Unfair and vindictive: That's what Westport resident Michael Calise told an RTM committee as he described two zoning changes the Planning & Zoning Commission approved this month.

Last week, Calise filed an appeal against the inclusionary zoning amendments, which would allow multifamily housing in commercial zones throughout town as long as 20 percent of the units were affordable . In return, developers would be allowed to triple their floor area ratio, effectually getting a free pass to override zoning regulations.

"It's important to point out the regulation that was created is really a reworking of the existing regulation section 32-12," Calise said Tuesday night before the Representative Town Meeting's Planning & Zoning Committee.

"And under 32-12, there are approximately seven or eight zones in Westport that currently have the right to put in multiple family housing, 20 bedrooms to the acre."

Essentially, Calise said, there is no benefit for property owners who already have this permission. He said they are being unfairly punished instead of getting a reward.

"They are being forced to put in the affordable housing if they want to build 20 bedrooms per acre, which they already have the right to build," Calise said.

According to Calise, only property owners in the General Business District would benefit from the amendments, which is why he would rather see the proposal applied in that zone only.

David Press, secretary of the P&Z, represented the commission at the hearing and supported the commission's decision.

"We have no idea which properties in commercial zones people care to build on," Press said, explaining why all commercial zones are included under the proposed regulation. "The majority felt that by putting the same requirement on all zones, we'd get uniform results."

Press also said that the amendments support the goals outlined in the 2007 Town Plan of promoting more affordable housing in Westport.

The RTM P&Z committee, which can support the P&Z's decision, overturn it or take no action, will continue its review of the appeal on Monday, Nov. 29.

What do you think? Should the RTM Planning & Zoning Committee support the P&Z's decision, overturn the decision or take no action?

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