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New P&Z Rules Challenged

Just 15 days ago, the Westport Planning & Zoning Commission approved two text amendments that would diversify the town's housing stock by expanding multifamily/affordable units to commercial zones. Now, a group of residents is hoping to overturn those regulations.

A petition signed by 36 Westporters was submitted to the Town Clerk's office Monday. Michael Calise, who listed himself as the owner of property at 215 Post Road W., was the lead signer.

"I don't have a problem with the regulation," said Calise, "It's a fine purpose. But my opinion is that it should not be applied to all zones. It should be applied only, in my opinion, to General Business District zone. It's not necessary to have them all over town."

The new regulations would permit two-family and multifamily units in commericial zones as long as 20 percent were "affordable." The zones include General Business District, Business Preservation District, Retail, Office and Residential Districts and Design Development Districts.

Developers who comply with the 20 percent requirement would be allowed to triple their floor area ratio — the ratio of floor area to property area. Calise argued that this would be an incentive only in the GBD zone because most of the others permit multiunit dwellings.

"In most of these districts, people already have the right to build condos," he said, "so [the P&Z Commission] is really imposing a burden on people that already have that right. There's no bonus."

Too many multi-housing units will ultimately burden the town, Calise said, by increasing the population, which would put stress on the schools, police and fire services, and recreation.

Under the appeal, the Representative Town Meeting can overturn the regulations. But before the appeal goes before the full RTM, the RTM Planning and Zoning Committee with review it, said committee chair Matthew Mandell.

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