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Westporter Pushes for Senior Housing at Baron's

When 38-year Westport resident Larry Silver addressed the Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday night, he made a powerful yet simple request: "I'd like you guys to sort of remember us old people."

Silver, a retired photographer and artist who moved to Westport from New York, was the first member of the public to comment on a proposed text amendment that would allow the development of a senior living and health-care facility on the town-owned Baron's South property, 23 acres of land located between Compo Road South and Imperial Avenue.

"I retired about 10 years ago and am not generating the kind of income I generated as a New York photographer. Frankly, I'm starting to run out of money and my options are this: Do I sell my house and leave Westport?" Silver said. "But I like Westport, it's a great town — I raised three kids here."

The text amendment proposes a number of changes to current zoning regulations to allow for the construction of 66 independent living units for seniors and a skilled nursing facility with 84 beds.

The Planning and Zoning Commission in November approved the concept for this project, which was brought forth by First Selectman Gordon Joseloff. "Don't forget, this is a piece of property the taxpayers of Westport purchased about 11 years ago that's been hardly used, except for the Senior Center," Joseloff said. "Our goal here is to use a piece of property, which was bought for municipal purposes, to better the town."

Westport resident Pat Dorbandt also supports the text amendment. A 50-year resident, Dorbandt said such a facility would allow seniors, like herself, to continue living in town.

"I live in an old house, and I really can't afford to stay there anymore," she said. "The house doesn't get the maintenance it needs, but I'd hate to leave Westport."

Not all the residents who spoke at the hearing, however, were in favor of the text amendment. John Laurino, a resident since 1978, said it would "affectively hijack the Baron's South property."

Another public hearing on this issue is set for March 10.

What do you think of the proposed use for the Baron's South property? Sound off below!

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