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Rehab Complex Eyed for ‘Westport Hotel’

By James Lomuscio

The Westport Rehabilitation Complex at 1 Burr Road is being eyed for a high-end, 50-room hotel close to downtown.

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An early rendering of The Westport Hotel. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed graphic

Leonard M. Braman, representing the owners 1 Burr Road LLC, met tonight with Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z)for a pre-application hearing, seeking input on a possible zoning change that would allow the establishment of “The Westport Hotel” in a restricted office residential (RORD 1) zone.

The commission’s reception was mostly positive.

The main caveats were that the developer be sensitive to the neighborhood and consider underground parking since the current three-story complex on the .89-acre property with 207 feet fronting Post Road West only has 35 parking spaces.

Lamont Plans a Quick Pivot to Talks on Tolls

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

To no one’s surprise, Gov. Ned Lamont said today he will use his authority to call the General Assembly into special session this summer in a renewed effort to return tolls to Connecticut’s highways. There is no guarantee, however, legislators will answer that call.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, supports the use of tolls to finance the modernization of the state’s aging transportation infrastructure, but he warned that the governor and his allies need to regain the public-relations battle lost to opponents.

“At best — at best — tolls are a 50-50 proposition in this state,” Aresimowicz said. “And those that are working very hard to disrupt that are putting a lot of misinformation out there.”

Aresimowicz’s comments reflect a belief among lawmakers that the Lamont administration botched the rollout of tolls in February, giving Republicans, the trucking industry and others an opportunity to frame tolls as just another demand on residents.

Earth Animal Debuts at Farmers Market

WestportNow.com Image
Earth Animal, a Southport-based animal products company, made its debut appearance today at the weekly Westport Farmers Market. Westport resident Merritt Goldstein (orange cap), daughter of Earth Animal founders Dr. Bob Goldstein, a veterinarian, and his wife Susan, said today was the first of five times Earth Animal will at the market this season. Earth Animal has long had a retail presence in Westport, first on Main Street and in the 1980s and currently at 606 Post Road East. In September, it will relocate to 925 Post Road East, the former Starbucks space. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Winners and Losers: The 2019 Legislative Session

By CT Mirror Staff

www.ctmirror.org

The 2019 legislative session ended at midnight Wednesday. As usual, some folks came out of the process happy. Others are already plotting their strategies for next year.

The impact of these decisions will take years to determine. But here’s an early assessment of who came out ahead and who didn’t.

Winners

Cities and towns: The state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 slightly increases the $2.3 billion in aid that cities and towns get each year. The education grant program that accounts for most of the state’s municipal aid will rise by 2 percent next year. And Gov. Ned Lamont’s plan to send some towns a bill to help cover teacher pension costs got shelved.

State employees: After granting concessions in 2009, 2011 and 2017, unionized state employees were asked by Lamont to accept new limits on the annual inflation increase for their pensions. They declined that request.

Comings & Goings: Matsu Sushi Reopens

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Just in time for the warm weather and downtown summer events, Matsu Sushi has reopened at 33 Jesup Road in what it says is a “soft opening.” The restaurant closed almost two months ago for what it said was renovations. While some work has been done, more remains, according to the owners. Meanwhile the restaurant is open every day except Monday with dinner only on Sunday. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

House Adopts $43B Budget, Senate Approval Expected Tuesday

By Keith M. Phaneuf and Maya Moore

www.ctmirror.org

The House of Representatives tonight approved a new state budget that averts a major projected deficit without increasing income tax rates, but does shift billions of dollars in pension debt onto the next generation of taxpayers.

Despite the potential for a $3 billion-plus deficit unless adjustments were made, legislators and the new governor made new investments in health care, bolstered local education aid significantly while sparing cities and towns from having to help cover municipal teacher pension costs.

The Democrat-controlled chamber voted 86-65 to send the package to the Senate, which is expected to approve it Tuesday.

The $43.4 billion, two-year plan avoids an income tax hike on the rich the new governor opposed, but establishes a much smaller “mansion tax” surcharge on the sale of expensive homes. The budget also asks more from small businesses and defers the first stage of property tax relief Lamont pledged on the campaign trail.

32 Housing Units Planned for Septic Tank Property

The Westport Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) is scheduled to hear a text amendment Thursday that would allow greater density to facilitate a proposed 32-unit, rental housing development at the former Roger’s Septic Tank property, Mary Young, Planning & Zoning director, said today.

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Roger’s Septic, 1480 Post Road East, is the site of a planned 32-unit housing complex. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

Text amendment 772, designed to increase density in inclusionary zone two- and multifamily lots, has been submitted by Christopher Smith, attorney for 1480 PRE Associates.

The amendment is scheduled to be heard simultaneously with a site plan application to develop the 1.625-acre property at 1480 Post Road East, the former Roger’s Septic Tank property, into a 32 one- and two-bedroom units, 20 percent affordable, Young said. The property is located in a general business district (GBD) and Residential A zone.

Young said that earlier this year 1480 PRE Associates submitted two additional applications on the property pursuant to the state’s affordable housing statute, 8-30g. While those applications remain pending, Young added they may be withdrawn if the other applications are approved Thursday.

Lawmakers Hope to Adopt Budget Monday That Avoids Another Income Tax Hike

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

Legislators will open the session’s final week Monday expected to pass a new state budget that keeps income tax rates flat, expands the sales tax and raises levies on prepared foods, e-cigarettes, plastic bags, alcoholic beverages and the sale of expensive houses.

The tentative agreement between Gov. Ned Lamont and leaders of the Democratic majority boosts funding for education grants and nursing homes, expands Medicaid eligibility for working poor adults with children and settles a long-standing funding dispute with Connecticut’s hospitals.

The $43 billion, two-year budget does not include a proposed tax hike on sugary drinks or on capital gains earnings of the rich. Also absent are electronic tolls, though leaders said that issue could be revisited in a special session.

It also refinances future contributions to pension funds for teachers and state employees, shifting billions of dollars in costs — plus interest — onto taxpayers after 2032.

It’s Saturday, Everyone Gets ‘A Little Something’

By By Mark Pazniokas and Maya Moore

www.ctmirror.org

www.ctmirror.org

Bipartisan legislation approved on a busy Saturday by the House of Representatives cuts a path through a thicket of Connecticut liquor laws and regulations with roots reaching back to the repeal of Prohibition. An overhaul of the bottle bill did not fare as well.

On a vote of 140-5, the House gave final passage to An Act Streamlining the Liquor Control Act, a compromise produced by legislators and lobbyists over beers at a meeting hosted by a Hooker.

That would be the Thomas Hooker Brewery at the Colt complex in Hartford. Lobbyists and legislators crowded into a conference room at the brewery, negotiating the bill page by page.

“We’ve really dragged this industry into the 21st century with this bill,” said Rep. Mike D’Agostino, D-Hamden, the co-chair of the General Law Committee, which oversees liquor laws.

Comings & Goings: Elvira’s Reopening Under New Ownership

By Dave Matlow

Elvira’s, the iconic convenience store opposite Old Mill Beach, will reopen around July 4 as Elvira Mae under the new ownership of Westport newcomers Hal and Betsy Kravitz.

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Hal and Betsy Kravitz with Hal’s son, Sam, 14 at the new Elvira Mae today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The couple, who relocated from southern California to Westport in October, have been busy overseeing renovations to the store even before the sale closed earlier this month from the Yiovanakos family, who operated Elvira’s for 22 years.

According to Betsy, the store will open every day for breakfast and lunch items at 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. and then operate from a front store serving window from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The after hours offerings will include ice cream, grab and go items, and bulk candy.