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Theater Proposal Gets the Boot in Westport

WESTPORT, Conn. – A proposed zoning change that would have allowed for 60-foot-tall movie theaters in downtown Westport was withdrawn by the Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday night after more residents voiced their opposition during a second public meeting.

Under the proposal, a new zoning area known as the Theater Overlay Zone would have been created. Planning and Zoning Chairman Ron Corwin said a zoning subcommittee with good intentions — to help pave the way for a movie theater — drafted the proposal.

"But when what you're doing is counterproductive, you have to step back and say, 'What am I doing? What are we doing?'" Corwin said before the commission voted 4-1, with one abstention, to withdraw the proposal.

The commission was prompted by several residents to withdraw its proposal. Among those urging the commission to take the proposal off the table was Jerry Minsky, treasurer of Westport Cinema Initiative , a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing an independent movie theater to Westport.

Minsky, a 34-year resident, thanked the commission for trying to make it easier to bring a movie theater to town. However, he said this proposal was not what the initiative wanted.

"Our fear is that this amendment is putting a cloud over" the Westport Cinema Initiative, Minsky said. "Our mission is to build a small, 200-seat independent art house cinema. We want to build a movie theater and a community. We certainly don't want to divide the community."

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