A public informational meeting concerning adoption of a village district zone downtown will be held by the Historic District Commission on October 22, at 7 p.m. in the Westport Town Hall auditorium, according to Westport Historic District Commission Chair Francis Henkels.
“The purpose of the meeting will be to present a recently completed report that identifies historic and architecturally significant structures in the downtown area and proposes future planning recommendations for preserving the important historic features of Westport Center,” said Henkels. “A major recommendation of this report calls for the collaborative creation and adoption of a village district zoning regulation.”
The establishment of a village district would require the creation of an advisory board comprised of a representative mix of stakeholders to determine the boundaries, create general design standards, and seek the adoption of a zoning regulation.
“Village district regulations are broader in scope than those of local historic districts and maintain the overall character of an area through the promotion of specific design compatibility objectives,” he said. “An important goal of the establishment of a village district would be to streamline and simplify the zoning/building permitting process.”
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The report was prepared by The Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc. (PAL), a cultural resources management services team from Pawtucket, RI. Virginia H. Adams, Senior Architectural Historian and Jenny F. Scofield, Preservation Planner and Architectural Historian, will make a presentation at the meeting of their survey work and future planning recommendations for Westport Center.
Following the presentation, they will answer questions from the public about their report and the proposed village district zoning regulation.
Planning recommendations by PAL were compiled after completion of the Westport Center Historic Resources Inventory survey update and a review of existing legislation regarding historic properties and zoning codes. At least eight Connecticut towns have existing village districts. According to PAL, “the establishment of a village district would better guide the design of buildings, streetscapes and sites in the commercial areas of downtown while promoting compatible growth.”
“The report and this program are the culmination of over a year of work, commissioned by the HDC, in an effort to identify important elements of the historic fabric of downtown Westport and to develop policies that will contribute to their preservation,” Henkels said. “We encourage the attendance and input of all Westporters.”
The project was fully financed by a Certified Local Government Supplemental Grant from the State Historic Preservation Office, Department of Economic and Community Development, in the amount of $15,000 funded by the Connecticut Community Investment Act.
Through a separate grant project, PAL has also recently completed survey work in the Kings Highway North Historic District to update and digitize Historic Resource Inventory (HRI) forms and photographs of structures. Additionally, PAL conducted further research and field work for a number of other properties and expanded the list of resources to include properties proposed by individual property owners and recommendations made by the Historic District Commission members.
The final report and list of inventoried properties will be available on the town website. Citizens with questions or comments should contact Carol Leahy, HDC Staff Administrator, by email at email@example.com, by phone at 203-341-1184, or in Room 108 at Town Hall.