The Architectural Review Board and Village District Design Advisory Committee (ARB/VDDAC) met in a special session this month to review a series of upcoming projects.

Of the five projects introduced, two (Wilton Land Conservation Trust‘s Nature Center at 183 Ridgefield Rd. and A Kid’s Place) are on the agenda for tonight’s (Monday, April 24) Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

A third — the multifamily development proposed at 12 Godfrey Pl. that was recently reimagined as an 8-30g development — is expected to come to the Commission in May. Two simpler applications — signage for the new Press Burger restaurant and an accessible ramp for Blue Buffalo, both Kimco tenants within Wilton Center — were reviewed as well.

Regret and Frustration over the New Wilton Lofts 8-30g Proposal

The discussion over Wilton’s newest 8-30g project was by far the most lively, with the applicant Rich Granoff and members of the VDDAC speaking candidly about P&Z’s position that the project should not move forward until after Wilton Center’s master plan could be completed.

In February, after months of tense review and multiple iterations of the design, P&Z commissioners directed Town Planner Michael Wrinn to draft a resolution denying the application to build a complex of 1, 2 and 3-bedroom apartments at 12 Godfrey Pl. In response, Granoff made good on earlier threats and withdrew the application, resubmitting it as an 8-30g project, with an additional fifth story added and several more expensive design elements like stonework eliminated. This section of Connecticut’s affordable housing law effectively allows developers to sidestep local zoning in towns like Wilton where less than 10% of residential units are considered affordable.

Before and after comparison of the initial 4-story proposal for 12 Godfrey Pl. and the new 5-story 8-30g design

“I assume you followed this story,” Granoff said, after outlining the changes to the project. “One P&Z member insisted the master plan was going to be approved in two or three weeks. We’re six months into that statement now, and it’s probably [going to be] another six months.”

“We feel your pain,” Sanders replied, seeming to agree with Granoff’s version of events.

“Planning and Zoning promised to have its new regulations on the books in a short timeline,” he said. “And that doesn’t seem to be the case. And I’m not blaming anybody or castigating anything, but we appreciate that the wheels of development and people’s money move on.”

Several members expressed regret about the changes in materials in the latest design, which Granoff explained were necessary in order to lower costs for a complex where units will now be priced below market rate. However, the additional height and bulk of the structure emerged as the central concern of the group.

After a discussion about VDDAC’s capacity to opine on a project that is no longer subject to local zoning regulations, the members voted unanimously to not endorse the project.

During his comments, Granoff did appear to forecast a potential way out should the town decide the prior proposal was preferable to the new 8-30g design.

“We still prefer our original proposal,” he said. “When we go back to P&Z, we’re going to make that ask again.”

Thumbs up for Wilton Land Conservation Trust & A Kids Place, which now Head to P&Z

Last summer, after months of technical challenges and confusion about P&Z’s review process, the Wilton Land Conservation Trust (WLCT) withdrew its application to use a historic barn on the Trust’s 183 Ridgefield Rd. property as an educational center. At the time, the group had been encouraged to return to P&Z with a more robust application. 

Barn at 183 Ridgefield Rd., centerpiece of the Wilton Land Conservation Trust’s proposed nature center

Last month, the group did just that, submitting an updated application that seeks to resolve many of the issues that doomed the initial proposal. In particular, the new design relocated the driveway to an area along Ridgefield Rd. with better sightlines and visibility.

“I think that the revisions to the development have been great,” said ARB member John Doyle after being presented with the new proposal. “The driveways and the parking, the walkways through there, the accessibility, it’s really nicely done.”

The Board voted unanimously in favor of the project, which will now head to P&Z for review.

With a similar backstory, ARB also reviewed an updated application for A Kids Place, a childcare facility at 436 Danbury Rd. This project too was initially presented to P&Z in an earlier form, and the Commission sent the applicant back to the drawing board to develop a more complete application. Apart from a few minor changes to the outdoor play area, ARB was broadly supportive of the project’s design elements and voted unanimously in favor of it.

Looking Ahead

The Planning & Zoning Commission will meet this evening to review the Wilton Land Conservation Trust and A Kids Place applications, among several other topics. Wilton Center Lofts remains a future agenda item for the Commission, which is waiting on the completion of a peer review for the project’s traffic study.

The Architectural Review Board and Village District Design Advisory Committee are scheduled to meet next on Thursday, May 4.

2 replies on ““Let This Be a Lesson to Us” —ARB/VDDAC Sends 8-30g Proposal to P&Z with Regret and No Endorsement”

  1. The before and after illustrations of Wilton Lofts are not to the same scale, and thus deceiving.

  2. Hmmm…
    Taking away decorative stonework to save $$, while adding an additional 5th story…. Really??

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