At the Aug. 2 Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting, the selectmen discussed exploring two town-owned properties — 872 Danbury Rd. and 31 New St. — as potential locations for new, affordable housing units.
The two properties are adjacent to each other and total 3.63 acres.
The property at 872 Danbury Rd. is 1.29 acres, with a single-family home that has been rented to a town employee for over 30 years. The house was built in 1914, with five bedrooms, two full baths and 1,518 square feet of living space. According to town records, the appraised value is $401,600.
The 31 New St. property is a larger parcel, at 2.34 acres. Built in 1940, the single-family home on the property is 1,128 square feet, with two bedrooms and one full bath, and an appraised value of $554,700.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice reported that significant maintenance is needed at the properties; one would require $40,000-$55,000 in repairs just to bring the home up to a standard suitable for continuing to rent it.
“We have been having conversations about whether the best use of this almost four acres is to serve as two single-family homes that the town leases out, or is there an opportunity for the town to do something else here, that might open up housing opportunities for more than just two rentals,” Vanderslice said.
With a number of projects currently being pursued by private developers in Wilton, housing has become a hot topic.
Director of Planning and Land Use and Town Planner Michael Wrinn encouraged the BOS to explore the potential opportunity for an initiative on town-owned land.
“I think this is a good opportunity to at least investigate the possibility. The town owns the property already. We’ve got two structures on two separate properties. We’ve got three streets that they front on. So it presents an opportunity I think we should look at. Do we go ahead spend $50,000 and at the end of the day, we wind up with basically this single-family house again … or do we look at it and see if we can do a number of affordable housing units there?”
Wrinn said that concept would be consistent with the goals stated in Wilton’s 2019 Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), which identified the need to increase the diversity of housing options, including affordable housing, in Wilton.
“Can we do some [housing units] ourselves that would be affordable? If we’re truly looking to engage ourselves in providing affordable housing, this may be a good opportunity for it,” Wrinn told the selectmen.
Wrinn called for a study of the properties to begin to explore issues such as the number of potential units, topographical constraints, and other issues that could impact development on the site.
According to Wrinn, the key factor will be access to sewage lines. While town records indicate the two properties connect to the public water supply, they do not have sewer lines.
“I think if we could have somebody come in and look at [the septic], look at grading, the topo[graphy] and what the possibilities are… I think it’s well worth the effort to at least put out an RFP for someone to look at that, get some good ideas, and then firm up what we can do.”
The selectmen agreed, and unanimously supported a motion for Wrinn to develop the request for a preliminary professional assessment.