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Text Amendment to Create Opportunities for Electric Vehicle (EV) Automobile Dealerships

Post Date:10/29/2018
Planning & Zoning Director Mary Young announced today that the Planning & Zoning Commission will review a Text Amendment at its November 1, 2018, Planning & Zoning Commission meeting at 7:00 PM in Westport Town Hall Auditorium.

Download the Text Revision and Revision Statement Below
Proposed Text Revision #755 [PDF]
Revision Statement [PDF]

Attorney Eric Bernheim of Halloran and Sage, submitted Text Amendment #755 to modify Sec. 6-6.2 of the Westport Zoning Regulations to facilitate an Electric Vehicle (EV) automobile dealership to locate in Westport.  A companion application seeking Special Permit/Site Plan approval was submitted by Peter Romano of LandTech, to locate an EV dealership at 176 Post Road West (former location of Dragone Classic Car Dealership and before them SAAB of Westport). 

Ms. Young advised, “The application to locate an EV automobile dealership to 176 Post Road West is contingent upon approval of the Text Amendment.  The Planning and Zoning Commission will hear both applications simultaneously at the Nov. 1 public hearing and receive comments from members of the public.”
 
If adopted, Text Amendment #755 will enable EV automobile dealerships to locate where existing gasoline automobile dealerships are located that are non-conforming uses based upon the underlying zoning district; and are located in both a residential and non-residential zoning district.  These locations include:
1.      176 Post Road West (former Dragone Classic Car Dealership);
2.      1372 Post Road East, Honda of Westport;
3.      777 Post Road East, New Country Toyota of Westport; and
4.      556-560 Post Road East, Volvo of Westport.

Other locations where gasoline automobile dealerships exist will not benefit from Text Amendment #755 if adopted as they are either conforming uses based upon the underlying zoning district (such as Maserati of Westport at 1026 Post Road East), or are not located in both a residential and non-residential zoning district (such as New Country Lexus of Westport at 1317 Post Road East).

Text Amendment #755 if adopted will provide the following incentives to EV automobile dealerships:
1.      Allow grading within five (5) feet of any property line that is currently restricted;
2.      Allow an increase of 8,000 square feet of additional floor area beyond what is currently permitted with a limit of up to 18,000 square feet;
3.      Allow a Floor Area Ratio up to 0.28 representing an increase from the 0.25 currently permitted;
4.      Allow a Building Coverage up to 28%; an increase from the 25% currently permitted; and
5.      Allow parking lot drive aisles and parking spaces in the residentially zoned portion of the property where it is currently prohibited.
 
Attorney Bernheim described various benefits associated with creating opportunity for EV Automobile Dealerships in his Statement of Need. These include:
1.  By helping to bring EV facilities to Westport, the Commission will be making it easier for area drivers to transition to EVs. This directly reduces combustion of fossil fuels and carbon emissions from the transportation sector, the single most important public health and climate mitigation objective.
2. The American Lung Association has determined that each gallon of gasoline burned results in $1.17 of public health costs that require funding. So there are direct public sector economic benefits from encouraging EV facilities and EV adoption.
3. The Westport Green Task Force initiated, and the Westport RTM's adopted a resolution for the town to reach net zero environmental impact by 2050. Widespread EV adoption by town residents and those who work in Westport is required to meet this objective. Therefore, pursuant to this RTM resolution, it is necessary for town leaders to incentive the creation of EV facilities to support EV adoption.
4. Adopting the amendment will help improve air quality and public health in Westport and protecting health and safety is the P&Z's top priority.
5. Increasing the grand list by incentivizing investment in EV facilities will benefit all residents.
6. Creation of EV facilities will help educate the community about renewable energy and sustainable technologies.
7. Encouraging EV facilities in Westport will also encourage EV use in neighboring towns and will reduce noise and air pollution from cars traveling through Westport on 95, the Post Road and the Merritt Parkway.
8. Since Westport has the highest rate of EV adoption of all CT towns, facilitating EV use by incentivizing EV facilities will help the town maintain a leadership role in promoting sustainable energy use, and also meet the needs of the growing number of local residents who already have EVs by allowing them to have their needs met without leaving town and spending their funds elsewhere.
9. The addition of an EV service center in Westport, in combination with an interactive and educational renewable power gallery, would serve the needs of the existing EV owners, while also educating community members about EVs and renewable energy for their homes.  With such a service center, Westport has the opportunity to be a leader in the state, helping CT to achieve its goal of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions an additional 30% over the next 12 years.

All those interested in this amendment are encouraged to attend the Planning & Zoning Commission’s public hearing on Nov. 1, 2018 at 7:00 PM in the Westport Town Hall Auditorium. A copy of the amendment is attached herein, is available for viewing in Town Hall both in the P&Z Office and in the Office of the Town Clerk, and online at www.westportct.gov. The staff report analyzing the amendment is also available online at https://www.westportct.gov/index.aspx?page=1084 . The meeting will be televised live by wptv Television 79 (Cablevision) and Channel 99 (Frontier) and recorded and saved on the Town’s website. The Planning and Zoning Commission can receive written comments from the public in advance of the hearing.  Comments should be sent to PandZ@westportct.gov. Once the public hearing is closed, no more information or comments will be accepted.

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