Bross Chingas Bross Real Estate, Riverside Realty, #1 Team in Westport 2013-2015 Per CMLS; Over One BILLION Dollars in Career Sales
Westport Country Playhouse presents ART/RED, May 3-29, 2016
Westport Dog Festival, Sunday, June 5, Winslow Park, 10-4
Your 24/7 News Source

Friday, December 07, 2012

P&Z Hears Second Floor Retail Pitch

Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

By James Lomuscio

A proposed text amendment that would allow second floor retail stores in downtown Westport got mixed reviews at a Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) public hearing tonight. Two members liked the fact that it would encourage mom-and-pop stores to return to Main Street while another argued its passage would exacerbate parking problems. Image
The P&Z considered an application that would allow second floor retail at 7 Main St. and other buildings. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

With only one member of the public having spoken, P&Z Chairwoman Catherine Walsh left the hearing open until the commission’s Dec. 20 meeting.

Architect William Achilles submitted text amendment 654 on behalf of the owners of 7 Main St., current home of LOFT. He noted that the change would affect 13 properties in the downtown’s Business Center District (BCD), seven of them on Post Road East, five on Main Street and one on Bay Street.

Current zoning regulations, while allowing second floor apartments, restaurants and retail food stores, prohibit BCD retailers from operating above the first floor. The exceptions are 10 properties on Main Street that either pre-exist the current zoning regulation or have secured variances over the years.

Mel Barr, a Westport planning consultant working for Achilles, argued that the change “would contribute to the vitality of the downtown,” by bringing in more mom-and-pop stores that could afford the lower rent on the second floor.

He also stressed that the proposal is consistent with the 2007 Town Plan of Conservation and Development, and that it would in now way call for the expansion of properties or the elimination of existing apartments.

Planning and Zoning Director Laurence Bradley pointed out that the amendment “has the potential for 13 properties, a total of 77,000 square feet,” which would require an additional 120 parking spaces.

“Seventy-seven thousand square feet, that’s all I have to say,” said Chip Stephens, showing his disapproval of the proposed amendment. Image
P&Z members Chip Stephens and Catherine Walsh, commission chair, study an applicant’s submission tonight. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

That amount of square footage was later challenged by P&Z member Ronald Corwin, who pointed out that if mom-and-pop stores took up space in just Main Street properties, the number would drop considerably, possibly as low as 12,000 square feet.

“I think it’s interesting and it’s incremental, allowing some businesses that could not afford it to come to Main Street,” Corwin said. “This strikes me as just the right thing we want to do.”

Corwin added that while “it is not likely to happen no matter what” for Main Street to be transformed back to the small buiness center of yesteryear, “this creates the potential for that to happen.”

When P&Z member Howard Lathrop questioned how second floor retailers could get around handicapped access laws, Achilles said businesses with 3,300 square feet would be exempt under the statutes.

Before opening up the discussion to the public, Stephens said he found it “irksome” where parking and handicapped concerns “have been minimized.”

The only member of the public to speak was Gloria Gouveia, a Westport land use consultant, who said she supported “the spirit of the amendment.”

“But I think it would be better if it were limited to Main Street only,” Gouveia said, noting that the amendment would bring the existing 10 second floor retail establishments “into compliance with the zoning regulations,” an aim of the P&Z.

“It would be consistent with the natural ebb and flow of Main Street for the past 50 years,” she added, choreographing how Main Street has evolved over the years, citing the once three-story Sloan’s furniture store, the two-story Klein’s, the Sport Mart and Westport Hardware.

“I think the amendment would be a tidy way of bringing the area into compliance,” Gouveia added.

Posted 12/07/12 at 04:23 AM


Comment Policy

No comments yet.

You need to Register and be logged in to post comments. If you are already registered but are not logged in, you can Login here.





Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

You must be logged in to comment. You must also answer the question or solve the equation below:

What is missing: North, South, East, ----? (4 character(s) required)

Please note by clicking on "Submit" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Inappropriate posts may be removed.

<< Back to main

Register / Log in

Registration is required to post comments.
Sign Up  •  Login
Comment Policy

Earthplace Summer Camp 2016 Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Fairfield County, Connecticut WestportNow Year in Pictures 2015 Give to Public Schools in Need! - Go to