Overview of proposed sewer extension, submitted to P&Z

Monday night’s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting will reflect an abrupt change in agenda: this afternoon, the engineering firm LANDTECH notified the town of Wilton that its client was withdrawing an application to extend the sewer line to 19 Cannon Rd. The proposal, which seemed poised to pave the way for a 70-unit residential complex that would invoke the state’s 8-30g affordable housing statute, was met with skepticism at both P&Z and the Historic District and Historic Properties Commission (HDPC) earlier this month.

Tonight would have been the final discussion at P&Z regarding the sewer extension, with a deadline looming – because this application was an 8-24 referral, the Commission needed to issue a report to the Wilton Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) by Apr. 1 either approving or rejecting the proposal.

Reached by GMW, Town Planner Michael Wrinn noted that the applicant had reached out about whether a time extension could be granted. However, he explained, the statute does not allow applications to extend beyond the initial 35-day timetable. Instead, Wilton Director of Public Works Frank Smeriglio received a letter from LANDTECH withdrawing the 8-24 referral entirely. Smeriglio told GMW he had not heard from or spoken with the applicant today apart from receiving the letter.

The applicant had also submitted pre-application documents for the development itself to the Architectural Review Board (ARB) in November and no withdrawal has been filed for that application. When asked by GMW what the sewer line extension being withdrawn means for the future of the development itself, Wrinn made one point clear: “Our position through our attorney has been that for any application, we want to make sure utilities are available before diving into details of project.”

Although there is no way to know what the ultimate outcome of this evening’s discussion and the eventual report to WPCA would have been, the frosty reception the proposal received at both P&Z and HPDC suggested that a rejection was likely. Both Commissions expressed concern about proceeding with large-scale development and changes to public utilities before the master plan process for Cannondale has even begun.

“Why should we forgo our own planning and extend a sewer for you before we understand what we want to do in Cannondale writ large?” P&Z Chair Rick Tomasetti asked during the Commission’s Mar. 14 meeting.

HDPC itself issued a letter of opposition to P&Z, which said in part, “if P&Z chooses to support the 8-24 request, then planning options that would have been available to the town will have been forestalled. Possibilities will have been pre-empted, and the intent of the POCD [Plan of Conservation and Development] will be thwarted.”

Public criticism had already begun rolling in ahead of the public hearing, with 16 letters opposition submitted to P&Z and an additional three to HPDC.  Most letters addressed not the sewer extension itself but the eventual development at 19 Cannon that the sewer would serve.

One letter of support was received as well: Wilton resident Charles B. Lewis, Jr. argued that the future 19 Cannon development, made possible by the sewer extension, would bring new business and customers to the shops near the Cannondale train station.

…So what now?

“I suspect we’ll hear from them or see something from them in the future, but the Commission has nothing to act on tonight. I’m not sure what the applicant’s next step is,” Wrinn said.