Westport explores hamlet expansion

WESTPORT - Two meetings will be held at the Westport Town Hall this upcoming week to discuss the possible expansion of Westport's hamlets.

"Hamlet" is the least restrictive land use designation in the Adirondack Park, and is generally reserved for the most dense population centers. Expanding the borders of a hamlet requires extensive review by and approval of the Adirondack Park Agency.

In Westport, however, a serious effort is being made to develop a plan for needed growth.

As Supervisor Dan Connell explained, the town established a Blue Ribbon committee in 2006, a group that has since done a significant amount of research to determine where expansion of the hamlet of Westport might be feasible.

The process of hamlet expansion started, said Connell, due to growing concern about the need for affordable housing in Westport.

"If we have some property in the existing hamlet or beyond the existing hamlet that we can develop, maybe some of that development would be more affordable to working families," he said.

A $50,000 planning grant allowed the town to hire consulting firm Saratoga Associates to expand on that research, developing a more detailed plan for how property in the expanded hamlet could potentially be developed.

Saratoga Associates will be present their preliminary ideas in an informational meeting Wednesday, July 21, at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall.

"This piece is designed to propose to property owners who might have some property that could be subdivided," said Connell, noting how the firm will suggest ways to increase the value of land brought into the hamlet.

"We're not telling anybody what to do with their property," said Connell. "It's just giving the property owners some ideas to think about."

The meeting will also give those owners a chance to provide their feedback on the initial findings.

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