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Goodwill Foe Objects to 'Element'

Ron Corwin, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, said he may not vote in favor of a new Goodwill Store at 1700 Post Road E., but not because he thinks it will attract the wrong crowd.

In fact, he came to the nonprofit's defense at Thursday night's hearing after Tina Dragone , owner of the upscale woman's clothing store at 1687 Post Road E., questioned the appropriateness of a bigger Goodwill store in a town like Westport.

"I think Westport, being such a beautiful community, could have a better choice as to what goes in there," Dragone said. "Through the grapevine, I've heard they [Goodwill] do hire ex-convicts and I don't think this is right for the town of Westport. I think we can do better."

Before she spoke, Dragone handed P&Z Director Larry Bradley a 30-plus page police history of the current Goodwill Store at 1572 Post Road E. This history, she said, includes various types of larceny.

Dragone, the owner of a woman-oriented business that's surrounded by other woman-oriented businesses, said: "To have this kind of element coming into our neighborhood is ludicrous. We are really afraid."

John Fallon, legal counsel for Goodwill, pointed out that the 30-plus page police history Dragone submitted covers the last 10 years. He said it was "disingenuous" of her not to mention that to the commission.

Fallon also took offense at Dragone's comments about Goodwill bringing in a certain "element."

"We've been in this town 50 years. We've been contributing in this town as a not-for-profit since 1996. That's the element that we are," Fallon said with a raised voice. "The 'element' that we serve are the people of Westport who've sustained us for 50 years."

Corwin, who still voiced concern over the store's donation center , agreed with Fallon, saying his comments were "right on target."

The public hearing on the Goodwill application was closed and the commission will take action at a later date.

Do you think Dragone's comments are justified? Tell us what you think below or join the conversation on Facebook .

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