Letter: Zone change a warning to home buyers
Published 11:18 am, Friday, November 7, 2014
We live in a small enclave named Southport, which is a throwback to yesteryear. It sits on the Long Island Sound and is reminiscent of Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard -- quaint and old.
In fact, the oldest dwelling in Fairfield is right next to our home. The owner purchased it a little over a year ago and has lovingly restored it to its former, 17th-century glory. The street that runs perpendicular to our street is designated as a "scenic road" with three houses dating back to the 18th century.
Southport, while unique, is surrounded by the hustle and bustle of modern life. Unlike Martha's Vineyard, which has the ocean to protect it from commercial encroachment, Southport must rely on its elected and appointed officials for protection. So unique is Southport, the Town Plan of Conservation and Development specifically states: "Southport Village has the visual character of an old colonial waterfront, which is reminiscent of the past. Encroachment of commercial zones into residential areas should be discouraged."
In addition to its historic charm, our neighborhood is one of families and children. The Greens Farms Academy's boys and girls track and cross country teams routinely make our street part of their jogging route, and the runners pass by our home every Thanksgiving during what we lovingly refer to as the "Pequot Turkey Trot".
When we bought our home last year, there were four vacant lots diagonally across the street form us and directly across from Fairfield's oldest house. The realtor confirmed that the empty lots are residential and until recently two had houses sitting on them. Nothing but private dwellings would be allowed on those lots.
Well, on Oct. 28, the Town Planning and Zoning (TPZ) Commission voted 5 to 2 to change those residential lots to commercial lots and to permit the erection of a 9,000-plus-square-foot Walgreens pharmacy. TPZ voted for this zone change, despite overwhelming objection from the neighborhood and that the decision is contrary to the Town Plan of Conservation and Development and the fact that this TPZ has denied rezoning from residential to commercial of similar developments in less-prominent areas of the town. The John Street and Bronson Road decisions are two recent examples.
Why would the TPZ make such a capricious change in the zoning? Perhaps they thought the town needed another pharmacy? There are two Walgreens, a Rite-Aid, a CVS and Switzer's Pharmacy within two miles of our neighborhood. Perhaps the committee was inadvertently swayed by the fact that the owner of the land in question is a former selectman and was once herself a TPZ member? I cannot answer for them. However, I implore anyone who is considering the purchase of a home in the town of Fairfield to reconsider. If the TPZ can make such egregious, capricious changes to the zoning, no investment in the community is safe. Buyer beware!