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New Family Y Gains Court Approval

UPDATED 1/21/11: Plans to build a new, and larger, Westport Weston Family Y facility on the Camp Mahackeno property in Westport gained the support of Stamford Superior Court Judge A. William Mottolese Wednesday when he dismissed the appeal filed by Y Downtown, a grassroots organization looking to keep the facility downtown.

Though the decision to uphold the Westport Planning & Zoning Commission's approval of the new facility is good news for the Family Y, it's not the news Indy Goldberg, co-director of Y Downtown , was hoping for.

"Nothing surprises me anymore, but I believed, and still believe, that there were many valid reasons to have the decision overturned," Goldberg said. "And our attorney [Bill Kupinse] did a great job, but I guess the judge thought differently than we did. He was looking to support the P&Z."

Although there are a number of reasons why the group is against a new 102,000-square-foot facility at Mahackeno, Goldberg said the three main reasons are: traffic, environmental concerns over the proposed septic system, and the fact that the Y, a “community center,” would be moving out of the community.

The Family Y filed an application for the project with the Planning & Zoning Commission in December 2007, Westport Town Attorney Ira Bloom said. Public hearings on the application dragged on for months and in October 2008, the commission approved the application. Shortly thereafter, Y Downtown filed an appeal.

This appeal, which contended that the P&Z was biased in its decision, is the fourth lawsuit against the Family Y's application to be dismissed, Bloom said. Two appeals filed by Westport resident Arthur Cohen were dismissed in July 2010, as was another appeal filed by Y Downtown.

"This is the longest zoning application hearing in Westport's history," said Bloom. "The Planning & Zoning Commission truly spent an extraordinary amount of time on this very long application, and I'm pleased the court upheld their hard work."

Now that the appeal has been dismissed, he said Y Downtown has 20 days to request an appeal before the Connecticut Appellate Court.

At this point, Goldberg said she couldn't say for certain whether the organization would request an appeal.

"We haven't had a chance to vet all this out yet," she said. "Once we meet as a group and meet with our attorney, we'll go through the decision line by line to see if there is something legally we can appeal."

Do you agree with the judge's ruling or do you agree with Y Downtown? Share your thoughts below!

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