Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Former Planning and Zoning Member Robert MacLachlan Dies at 85
Robert H. MacLachlan, an outspoken former member of Westports Planning and Zoning Commission, has died. He turned 85 on Saturday.
His wife, Emily, said he passed away Tuesday at home after a long battle with cancer. ғHe was sick for two years, she said. ԓIt was a blessing for him to go. He was surrounded by his family.”
A retired Mobil Oil executive, MacLachlan was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and was a graduate of the University of Glasgow School of Law and studied at the University of London School of Oriental Languages.
During World War II, he served in the Royal Artillery in both the European Theater and Burma, retiring as a major. In 1946, King George decorated him for valor.
He was a Westport resident since 1969 and served as a Democratic member of the commission for 14 years. He was also a member of the Save Westport Now party.
Known for his meticulous research on issues and lengthy handwritten memos, MacLachlan was very vocal about the P&Zs right not only to pass zoning regulations but to enforce them. This often put him at odds with the town attorneyҒs office.
“He took a keen interest in enforcement issues and stuck with it,” said Kathy Barnard, director of Planning and Zoning. “He did not let go until they were resolved.”
She said MacLachlan picked up on loopholes and things not clearly stated in the zoning regulations. “They now read much better largely through his efforts,” Barnard said.
Eleanor Lowenstein, chair of the P&Z Commission, said MacLachlan was very thorough in his research and persistent in getting issues addressed that he felt were important.
“Bob spent a lot of time fulfilling his role as a commissioner, whether researching, serving on subcommittees, or participarting in the public hearings,” she said. “He was always concerned about what was best for Westport.”
Lowenstein added, “As a new chair of the commission, he was very helpful to me.”
Survivors include his wife; three children, Robert G. MacLachlan of Cincinnati, Ohio; Mary Ann MacLachlan Mallonee, of San Carlos, Calif.; Emily M. Balch of La Grange, Ill., and six grandchildren.
Mary Ann is a 1973 Staples grad and Emily graduated in 1978.
A funeral mass will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at St. Luke Roman Catholic Church, 49 North Turkey Hill Road, Westport.
The family would appreciate contributions to the Mid-Fairfield Hospice, 180 School Road, P.O. Box 489, Wilton, CT 06897.