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Friday, July 11, 2014

P&Z Postpones Action on Kemper-Gunn Lease

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) tonight found fault with some of the wording in a ground lease between the town and owners of the historic Kemper-Gunn House scheduled to be relocated to .13 acres of the Baldwin parking lot.

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Selectwoman Helen Garten, chair of the Kemper-Gunn Advisory Committee, addresses the Planning and Zoning Commission tonight. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

At issue were the some of the proposed lease’s statements, which board members said should be qualified by “subject to zoning regulations.”

The 1885-built Victorian at 35 Elm St. to be moved and rehabilitated by Kemper-Gunn LLC will be used to house independent, small businesses including retail, restaurants and office space, according to Selectwoman Helen Garten, who is chairwoman of the Kemper-Gunn Advisory Committee. The Board of Finance Wednesday night voted 4 to 1 to approve conditionally the 98-year lease.

But Chip Stephens, P&Z chairman, and Jack Whittle, vice chairman, pointed out that the proposed lease, for which First Selectman Jim Marpe needs a P&Z recommendation to move forward, allows for second-floor retail which downtown zoning prohibits.

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