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Westport Mom Makes Run for Planning and Zoning

WESTPORT, Conn. – Westport resident Jennifer Johnson, the only Democrat running for a seat on the Planning and Zoning Commission, has taken an active role in the community since moving to town five years ago with her family.

A mother of two, Johnson has been a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission for almost two years. She's also a member of the Westport Arts Center Education Committee, a volunteer at the Saugatuck Elementary School library, and an active Bedford Middle and Saugatuck Elementary school parent.

Johnson, who's worked as a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers Financial Advisory Services Practice, recently took the time to answer some questions about the upcoming election.

Question: What to you are the biggest planning and zoning issues facing the town?

A: I believe the biggest Planning and Zoning issues facing our town are preserving the residential feel and scale of our neighborhoods, pro-actively improving our downtown's vitality, creating ways for people to walk in and around town safely; and protecting open space.

Q: Where do you stand on the proposed development of Baron's South?

A: I fully support creating affordable senior housing for our seniors. As a child, I participated in my father's efforts to create a successful senior housing project. Senior housing is a community issue which all citizens should rally to support. I would support using the Baron's South property for senior housing provided that the development does not adversely impact traffic on the Post Road and that the design and layout includes set-asides for parkland and walking paths – connecting all town residents to our parks (Winslow), our riverfront and downtown.

Q: What are your thoughts about a movie theater in downtown Westport? If you support the idea, what suggestions would you propose to make sure it keeps with the town's characteristics?

A: I support a theater downtown as a long as it does not impact the small-town feeling and scale of our downtown. I applaud the Westport Cinema Initiatives efforts to make this dream a reality. The economic viability of a theater will depend on the site selected. As a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, I would work to ensure that the design and scale of the project does not dominate our downtown, but instead complements and enhances it.

Q: Why should people vote for you?

A: I believe my background and abilities can really make a positive difference on the Planning and Zoning. I have spent 25 years working in connection with land-use issues in both the public and private sectors. I understand the need for achieving a balance between careful growth and preservation of our natural resources. I have a demonstrated record in community involvement and leadership through my service on the Westport Parks and Recreation Commission. And I believe we can approach issues on the Planning and Zoning Commission in a respectful, bipartisan manner.

Q: What would your goals be as a commissioner?

A: My goal as a commissioner is to create a community where open dialogue about change is celebrated, and fact-twisting discourse is not tolerated. Westport is an amazing community. I believe we can make it even better. A more vibrant downtown, a riverfront where people have better views than cars, sidewalks where people see each other, park benches and outdoor dining where we can linger, new homes that complement instead of dominate residential neighborhoods.

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