WESTPORT - After weeks of speculation, residents of Westport have met the anonymous potential buyer of the Treadwell estate, one of the town's largest properties, which has been on the market for just over a year.
David Mann, a former marketing executive from Westchester County, introduced himself to the community and presented his plans for the estate at the Westport Town Board meeting on Feb. 9. About 60 local residents attended the meeting, including several members of the planning board.
Mann described the proposed project, which he calls Rolling Hills Farm, as a private club centered around "a full-scale working farm," a retreat where members could leave behind their cell phones and laptops and immerse themselves in the simplicity of an earlier era. Cars would be parked in an underground parking area at the entrance, and members would walk or use solar-powered carts inside the property.
The property, located at the intersection of Camp Dudley Road and Route 9N/22, includes over 1,000 acres of farmland, but virtually all the proposed development would take place within approximately 60 acres along the northern edge, where the previous owners had their residences.
The main house would become a clubhouse, and a smaller home nearby would become a dormitory for farm workers, many of whom Mr. Mann hopes will be the children of members.
The development calls for 99 additional buildings, including 30 suites and 33 duplex cottages in which members will stay, as well as a centrally located educational village.
Mann's architect, David Carr of the LA Group, told the audience, "The idea is to blend the cottages into the landscape as much as possible. Our charge was that this shouldn't be seen or heard by the neighbors."
He also said that the hope is for the club to be a "net-zero" power user, utilizing solar and wind power, coupled with energy-efficient building techniques.
Westport Supervisor Dan Connell reported that the town has retained an attorney who has worked with the town on similar projects before.
"We think this is a wonderful idea and will be a great thing for the town," he said. "We're very eager to see it go ahead." He added that the project will require amendments to the zoning laws that were in the works already, as well as state environmental review. He also said that public hearings will be held on the project. "We want to move as quickly as we can, but we do have a process and need to go through that," he said.
Carr said that they would like to break ground as soon as they get the go-ahead from the planning board and hope to complete the project within two years.