Survey: Most say, keep Westport small, open
These are among many findings in the just-completed town Master Plan Update Survey.
"Westport residents have spoken very clearly about what is and isn't important to them for the future of Westport," said James Whitin, chairman of the Planning Board that led the survey. “The Planning Board is extremely pleased with the responses that will provide direction for the Master Plan Update process that is currently underway."
A total of 1,473 Westport residents took the time to respond to the survey, expressing opinions about a number of issues including growth and development, water and wastewater, and types of housing they want in town.
Ninety-six percent of respondents were year-round residents and 57 percent have lived in Westport more than 25 years. Ninety-three percent are registered voters; 84% are over 45 years old and only 21% have school aged children.
A majority (56 percent) of those who responded said the believe that the pace of Westport growth is about right, while 32 percent think the town is growing too fast.
They are concerned about the pace of commercial development and don't much like the idea of providing incentives to encourage business growth (29.7 percent yes).
Businesses to be encouraged — by a wide margin — include agriculture, small in-town shops and farmers' markets. Last on that list is car dealerships and used car lots.
Asked if they favor town installation of water and sewer systems, 550 said yes and 760 said no. They do, however, wish to encourage shared wastewater systems (824 yes, 416 no). Asked if doing nothing about water or wastewater systems, 843 said that is a bad idea, while 301 answered yes.
As for development, most support low density residential with large lots (60,000 square feet) and single family residences.
The individual comments section of the survey suggests again and again that people want to preserve Westport's rural, agricultural character.
"Not overbuilt like Dartmouth," says one person about what he/she likes about Westport.
"I like that things don't change too much. It is a safe harbor in the storm of life. Nature is the primary focus and there aren't too many rules and laws attached to enjoying it," said another.
— "Beaches, country roads, farmlands, cows, nice people, quiet nights, mom and pop businesses. Low tax rates, even at the expense of reduced services.
— "Tranquility, natural beauty, and the size."
— The unique way of life, open space, and beautiful beaches … Unhurried way of life."
— "Lees, Partners. Concerts at the winery in summer. Good local restaurants. Fresh fish from Westport Lobster. The rural feel. Meadows. Stone walls."
— "I like that things don't change too much. It is a safe harbor in the storm of life. Nature is the primary focus and there aren't too many rules and laws attached to enjoying it."
To read about preferences and concerns expressed in the survey, visit the Planning Board page on the town website at www.westport-ma.com. The detailed results of the survey are shown in both percentages and in graphs.
Link to comments read all the comments.