To the Editor:

At last week’s meeting regarding Ridgefield Rd. being selected as an Age Restricted Overlay District, aka “AROD,” a major concern voiced by their fellow citizens to the Planning and Zoning Commission was their perception that scant, little notice was given about this scenic road being selected as one of the three best choices for AROD. In their opinion hardly a word. Moreover, a lack of transparency as to which locations were selected, was cited as a major concern by many who attended. Despite those concerns, many said they were for development like AROD, but not for Ridgefield Rd.. Sadly, in my opinion, it became apparent from the outset that those who would express support for a moratorium, along with whatever concerns they had about high density housing on Ridgefield Rd. would be met with a stern countenance, and according to local media, even with anger by the P&Z chair.

More positively, the P&Z chair made a very good suggestion to the assemblage when he asked if anyone had ‘new ideas’ as to where else in Wilton AROD would be more appropriate. Hence the notion to study the feasibility of having AROD located within the Wilton Town Center–the pluses being:  easier access to services for the buyers–think sidewalks, a significantly more vibrant downtown, far greater support for local businesses, and, arguably, a far larger tax base than could be achieved then by having AROD on Ridgefield Rd..

This concept was discussed at length last year, at a meeting focused on economic development and the future vitality (and viability) of Wilton; hosted by various architects who live in town (May 11, 2016). Mr. [Rob] Sanders, one of the architects, went so far as to say, “I would argue that the leftover residential structures like the house across the street from the library … are gaps in the teeth.” He then went on to encourage “people to think about how those gaps could be filled to increase Wilton Center’s vitality,” because business owners in Wilton Center struggle to make enough money to maintain their facilities and make a profit, and he argued that more residential density downtown could help with that.

Other comments from the architects included:

  • Kathleen Poirier:  “There definitely is a draw to wanting to live near the town centers of all communities.”
  • Sanders:  “More mixed-use buildings…would bring more people to Wilton Center.”
  • Chris Pagliaro:  “Mixed-use is the savior of good downtown planning.”
  • “The panel agreed a denser downtown would support changing demographics, which town planner Bob Nerney said he believes needs to be taken into consideration when it comes to the future of Wilton’s landscape and architecture.”

As for the request for a moratorium, it should be relatively easy for P&Z to meet that request, especially now that the sole developer expressing an interest in AROD for Ridgefield road has, in a recent interview, said he is not wed to the idea of AROD there. As a final thought, since we are a town with high principles, we all want transparency in our dealings, and we don’t want to be seen as operating in a low principle environment. Thus, with respect to AROD, there is surely a win-win to be found for all interested parties.

Thomas Curtin