A rendering of changes proposed to appearance of the Westport Rehabilitation Complex at 1 Burr Road. The building would remain three stories, but would service a little more than half the number of patients currently at the Westport Rehabilitation Complex.

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — A new plan for the three-story medical building across Burr Road from Kings Highway Elementary School has received a favorable reception from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

It’s the fourth time a plan to alter, replace or expand the white brick structure at 1 Burr Road, now called the Westport Rehabilitation Complex, but originally known as Mediplex. It was built in the 1960s.

The commission on Monday held a “pre-application review” at the potential applicant’s request. It was not a formal, binding review by the P&Z, but a request by the applicant for input on the plan as envisioned.

Earlier efforts stalled

The Westport Rehabilitation Complex at 1 Burr Road, across from Kings Highway School. The three-story structure might get a major face lift. / Photo by Thane Grauel.

Previous plans floated informally to the Planning and Zoning Department in recent years included a boutique hotel and a similar medical facility with a fourth floor.

Rick Redness, of Redniss & Mead, a Stamford land-use firm, told the P&Z the latest plan would maintain the structure with some “minor” additions. The exterior would be refinished with brick matching the architecture of the neighboring school. A mansard roof would be added to hide mechanical equipment. 

More than 1,000 square feet of pavement surrounding the building would be replaced with grass and landscaping. 

Also, Redniss said, the number of beds would be reduced nearly in half, going from 120 to 68. That would mean fewer staff members working there as well.

Though earlier plans were not well received, the zoners appeared generally pleased with the plan that might soon officially be filed with the commission for a decision.

P&Z members see positive progress

Planning and Zoning Director Mary Young gave a quick history of plans for the property in recent years.

“Each time it gets less intense,” she said of the proposed developments. “So, it’s been worth the wait I think because that would solve the concerns voiced by the surrounding neighbors …”

Graphic shows architectural plans for the property at 1 Burr Road, at Post Road West.

The public is not allowed to address the commission during a pre-application review. But several members, while expressing support for what they saw, said it would be crucial to hold a hearing where neighbors could comment.

“I guess if you wait long enough something good will eventually come our way,” said commission member Paul Lebowitz. “This is absolutely a positive direction and I think would be a welcome addition.” 

Patrizia Zucaro said she didn’t understand why the application would be made as a text amendment to the P&Z rather than through a variance. She said she wants to hear from neighbors.

“Obviously, we’d like to hear from neighbors, and understand traffic and other issues, but definitely seems like an improvement to me,” said member Neil Cohn.

“It looks vastly better,” said member Amie Tesler. “It’s a better use of the space.”

“I love what you are going to do with the building,” said member Michael Cammeyer. “So, bring it.”

“I like where we’re headed this time, a lot better than the past,” said member Jon Olefson.

“I like where you’re heading,” commission Chairwoman Danielle Dobin said. “So much better than, a vast improvement.”

She said she’d like to see more landscaping in back of the structure for the sake of immediate neighbors.

“I know there’s neighbors that back up to the building, anything you can do,” she said.

Dobin also asked about staffing, and the timing of staff arrivals and departures in relation to the drop-off and pickup times at Kings Highway School.