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Questions Surround Senior Housing Plan

What are the plans for senior housing on Baron's South in Westport? Even members of the RTM's Long Range Planning Committee are not entirely sure. That's why they devoted Wednesday night,  their monthly meeting, to discussing it. They were charged  by First Selectman Gordon Joseloff and Selectwoman Shelly Kassen to compile a list of questions regarding about the plan.

"We need a better explanation, in layman's terms, of the plans," committee Chairman Jack Klinge said, as he took notes on the questions.

Plans for the facility go beyond affordable housing—they include offering various types of services like assisted living and an Alzheimer's unit, for example. Confusion centers on this aspect. Because plans suggest a mixed-use facility, the committee wondered how the area would be zoned.

"Is there a defined zone this would fit under?" asked committee member Jonathan Cunitz.

In trying to come up with an answer, the committee concluded zoning questions can't be addressed until plans are more defined.

"They want a zoning change?" asked committee member Allen Bomes. "That's going to be tough when they don't know what they need."

Along with zoning, the question of who would build the facility was raised.

"Are they looking for a non-profit builder or a for-profit builder?" asked committee member Lois Schine. "If they're looking to build affordable housing and are going to provide all these services, I have questions as to which developer is going to get involved."

As the next stage, the committee's questions and concerns will be reviewed by Joseloff and Kassen.

"Our job is to ask the hard questions," Klinge said. "We need to make them think about what they need to solve before getting further down road with this."

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