Saugatuck Neighbors is honored to have the support of Save Westport Now in opposing Text Amendment #733; they just shared this letter they're planning to read into the record at Thursday night's hearing.
Dear Westport Residents,
At Thursday night’s P&Z hearing, Save Westport Now intends to oppose the adoption of a new text amendment that would allow Tesla to sell and service electric vehicles in an “RORD” zone in Saugatuck, a use that is currently prohibited under our existing zoning regulations. We would like to share our reasoning with you.
Restricted Office-Retail Districts (RORD) zones are designed to provide transitional areas between commercial and residential zones. They serve to ensure and promote uses that benefit and are compatible with residential neighborhoods, and they prevent the degradation to the quality of life for those who live in and around them. Those zones are vital and must be protected.
The regulations are clear and specific regarding both permitted and prohibited uses in RORD zones. The uses that ARE permitted, including grocery stores, delis, restaurants, and a wide spectrum of other uses, reinforce the philosophy of a transitional zone: they are commercial uses that elegantly blend local residential living with relevant and appropriate commercial activities. They are uses that are compatible with walkability and neighborhoods. They are uses that attract and provide services to local residents. The uses that are not permitted, including car dealerships and service stations, are not consistent with that philosophy. For that reason, they are expressly prohibited in these important transitional zones.
And we note that this prohibition is not premised on the fact that cars have historically been powered by fossil fuels. There are myriad other reasons to prohibit automobile service stations and dealerships in these transitional zones, including avoiding noise, traffic, and test drives. In other words, to claim an exception based on the type of fuel proceeds from the false premise that the only thing that matters is the type of fuel. The reality is that motor vehicle service stations and dealerships have no place in these zones—regardless of fuel type.
Save Westport Now is not opposed to the sale or servicing of electric vehicles in town, nor are we making a statement against the applicant. To the contrary, we support sustainable technologies and look forward to welcoming the commercial purveyors of those products in appropriate locations. But, based on the intent and language of the RORD regulations, we join the chorus of opposition to this Text Amendment.
We believe that the Planning & Zoning Commission is duty-bound to vote to deny this text amendment to ensure the integrity of the RORD, protect neighbors from commercial encroachment, and preserve the quality of life for surrounding residents.
Valerie Seiling Jacobs and Ian Warburg, Co-Chairs