The fate of a new, and bigger, Goodwill store at 1700 Post Road E. in Westport rests in the hands of the Planning & Zoning Commission. But the commission members, chairman Ron Corwin included, are not sold on the site plans.
"I have a problem with this application," Corwin told Goodwill representatives at Thursday night's public hearing. "I think this application has three components ... the third function is one that I am very troubled by and that is the donation center."
Currently, the plans include an at-store donation center, similar to setup of the current Goodwill location at 1572 Post Road E. The plans also propose a larger, "architecturally pleasing building" that will, according to Goodwill legal representative John Fallon, "give us a greater and better opportunity to provide better retail services to the people of Westport."
While Corwin is not opposed to a donation center, he said he would rather see a standalone donation center associated with the retail store.
"I'm troubled by it because when we approve this use, if we do, we are in effect approving a donation center at every [General Business District] property in Westport or the functional equivalent thereof," he said. "I need to hear why, if we're to approve this, Crate and Barrel couldn't come to us tomorrow and say, 'We actually want to do something similar to this.'"
Fallon told Corwin there would be no change between the new and current store. "If you deny this location, we'll have the donation center at 1572 Post Road E.; it just won't be in as nice of a facility."
Fallon also addressed the issue in terms of principal and accessory uses, two zoning principals.
"You have to look, as you always do, to the principal use and in our case, the principal use here is retail sales," Fallon said. "It happens that unlike Crate and Barrel, who sell items that they buy wholesale and that are delivered to them by suppliers, we sell items that are donated to us by individuals."
No public comments have yet been heard and the hearing was continued to Dec. 2.
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