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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Selectmen Clear Way for Geiger’s Redevelopment

By Dave Matlow

The Westport Board of Selectmen today cleared the way for redevelopment of the 2.5-acre Geiger’s Garden Center property at 1135 Post Road East into a commercial and residential complex.

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The 2.5-acre Geiger’s property at 1135 Post Road East, which will become a retail and residential complex with 12 housing units, two of them affordable. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

By a unanimous vote, the board approved expansion of the capacity of the existing sanitary service use to accommodate the redevelopment that would include two affordable housing units among 12 proposed. The matter next moves to the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) on Jan. 22.

The development would include a bank in the front, retail, and four buildings with eight two-bedroom units and four one-bedroom units. The two affordable units would be a two-bedroom unit and a one-bedroom, David Ginter of Redniss and Mead, civil engineering consultants, told the board.

Cathy Talmadge, a neighbor on Morningside Drive North and a member of the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), told the board the neighbors were very supportive of the project.

“We’re eager to see this move forward,” she said, adding that she tried 12 years ago unsuccessfully to expand the sewer capacity when she put on an addition to her home. “They (the developers) used a lot of restraint. It could have been more intense. They even put in underground parking.”

Rick Redniss, a principal of Redniss and Mead, noted that the project will be the first under inclusionary housing text amendments passed by the P&Z in November 2010. (See WestportNow Nov. 10, 2010)

The P&Z had labored for three years to draft the regulations, which narrowly averted being overturned a month later by the RTM. (See WestportNow Dec. 8, 2010)

Under the regulations, cluster apartments are permitted next to commercial structures along the Post Road corridor providing that 20 percent are listed as affordable.

Real estate developer Michael Calise, the main petitioner seeking for the RTM to overturn the regulations, had argued that while he was in favor of affordable housing, he felt the new regulations were inequitable.

Calise, who owns property at 215 Post Road West, told the RTM: “The bottom line is that if you are building an affordable unit, you are going to have to pay a market rate to build it.”

He likened the 20 percent rule to having Mitchells give away two suits for every 10 they sell or Westport Pizzeria two pies for every 10 sold.

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Posted 01/14/15 at 02:33 PM



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