About Town

Every planner knows Euclid v. Ambler.

It was the first significant zoning case to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court (1926).

UCONN law Professor Sara Bronin points out that zoning laws have been restrictive. “They use a few basic strategies to achieve their goals. They include in their zoning minimum size requirements” for lots.

Professor Bronin described her own history. She’s from Houston. Her extended family sought safety and educational opportunity by moving to its suburbs. Ironically, Houston is famous as a place that never adopted zoning!

The issue of housing opportunity is on the front burner right now. What has Weston done?

In the mid-1960’s Weston P&Z established “in-house apartments” for all.

Any home owner in Weston can create within the main dwelling a rental unit apartment. Not only that, Weston P&Z considers apartment applications that meet the requirements an administrative process! No public hearing required!

Do we get any “credit” for this?

Is this not housing variety? How many in-house apartments are there here?

Some have guessed 200. Official sources show fewer than 100 (based on re-assessment data for all structures). Should we have a policy to create more? Provided that private wells and septic systems have been approved for such extended use by the Westport-Weston Health District?

What is Weston zoning history? Uniform 2-acre zoning since 1953. At that time many properties in Weston were rendered non-conforming by virtue of lot size being less than 2 acres.

Zoning regulations were revised in 1970. Adopted at that time were Special Permits and Shopping Center floating zones.

What about environmental impacts?

Domiski-Oakrock’s Environmental Resources Manual proposed changed requirements for new subdivisions. As well as a suggestion for cluster zoning that was not included in the final document.

Added to the zoning regulations after “D-O” is the recognition of the importance of “special natural characteristics” to recharge wells and septic systems. So a building lot is now required to have “1.7 acres of land” that is not wetland soils.

So what good is a plan if its recommendations never see the light of day? The Town seems bound and determined that the 2020 Town Plan update gets implemented!

Zoning Regulation changes may also be on the way in the form of a “Village District.” I hope some inclusion of urban design standards can be included into a new downtown Weston.

It may not be part of a “village district” yet, but here’s some news! The Lunch Box is back in business! Wednesday to Sunday, 4p.m. to 9p.m.! Indoor, outdoor and take out-curbside!

“About Town” is also a television program. It appears on Fridays from 5:30 to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from 6:30 to 7 p.m. on Cablevision Channel 88 (Public Access). Or see it at www.aboutweston.com.

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