As part of GOOD Morning Wilton‘s coverage of the elections for the 2019 municipal elections, we have set out guidelines inviting each candidate to submit one 800-word op-ed piece before Election Day. Rem Bigosinski is a Democratic candidate for the Planning & Zoning Commission.

I’m a licensed landscape architect running alongside Florence Johnson and Peter Squitieri for Wilton’s Planning and Zoning Commission. I will implement the 2019 Plan of Conservation and Development with an eye toward ensuring that Wilton’s unique New England charm–with all of our streets, landscapes and historic properties–is preserved or aesthetically and environmentally enhanced. I will do this while encouraging sensible higher-density development in the parts of town best suited for them according to our POCD. I will improve our town center (plus Cannondale and Georgetown) by helping to revise zoning guidelines to allow for a river-centric approach and to help on a new master plan for the town center.

I propose an “Eatery Row” along the Norwalk River, where one could walk and experience eating outdoors with a sense of community with all of our current and future small businesses. Let’s encourage seniors to stay in town by introducing apartments above shops and through other opportunities for down-sizing. Let’s have a tie-in with the Norwalk River Valley Trail and the town center and improve our way-finding and signage experience throughout town. Let’s rival our neighboring towns and bring in visitors to enjoy our town’s businesses and amenities. 

I’m a young professional who moved to Wilton because of what it has to offer. My wife and I were attracted to the town because of its amenities, its open spaces and country charm. I was also enchanted by the town ethos of a “do-it-yourself” kind of atmosphere versus a “hire-someone-else” kind of place. I like seeing people outside and using their properties, either working or enjoying them. 

I lived and worked in Shanghai, China for six years designing over 40 luxury residential, commercial, mixed-use properties and streetscapes, but what I always found so important and endearing was the range of people one could find in lushly designed squares and parks. Zoning strategies must always employ a people-first approach, including a focus on gathering places and the pedestrian experience. We must have a vision for what our town center should look and feel like that includes a requirement that new developments dedicate space to greenery, pocket parks and other gathering spots that encourage walkers and potential shoppers to visit and linger in Wilton. 

The mission of the Planning and Zoning Commission is not to deny use of properties by matter of principle but to work with the community to achieve reasonable, safe and equitable outcomes that enhance the experiences of everyone living, visiting and investing in Wilton. Planning and Zoning should also commit to a streamlined process for pre-application review so that applicants are not tied-up in months of public hearings. If we want new and repurposed development, the town needs tools to support not only the community but the developer as well. And of course, streamlined processes must benefit residential applicants as well as commercial. 

I will reach out to other boards and commissions and organizations to improve transparency and cooperation. Planning and zoning strategies cannot be a siloed exercise. Our town has made initial steps to increase our energy independence and sustainability, but we need to do more as a town-wide effort, especially for adapting to a changing climate. We need to have a vision and action plan for long-term planning so that we are prepared for the future. 

I am running for the Planning and Zoning Commission because I have expectations for the town and what we can all do to achieve a community that is vibrant, equitable, desirable and affordable, and I bring substantial, professional design experience to help make these expectations a reality. If this is a vision you have for Wilton, please vote for me, Rem Bigosinski, for Planning and Zoning along with Florence Johnson and Peter Squitieri. Thank you.