During the Thursday, Mar. 3 meeting, the Architectural Review Board/Village District Design Advisory Committee reviewed several current applications, moving some projects forward but asking others to return with further details.
Architectural Review Board
The first application considered was a special permit from the family-owned doggy daycare, boarding, and fostering facility Bone and Bark Inn, which is seeking permission to move to and operate out of 15 Cannon Rd. The site, which includes a historic structure and pond, is the former home of ABC of Wilton. GOOD Morning Wilton reported on the details of the application last week.
The project will go through a full review process with the Planning & Zoning Commission later this month. For this conversation with the ARB, only the fencing around the property was up for discussion and recommendation. The ARB is an advisory committee of P&Z charged with providing architectural guidance to applicants and design recommendations to the commission.
Frederick Hoag, an architect based in Westport, made a brief presentation explaining the two types of fencing that would be used at the site: a solid 6-foot tall fence and an open fence that Hoag described as, “we’re calling it chain-link but if I could show you, it’s nicer than a chain-link fence.” He noted that the open fence would be built using wood posts.
He concluded the presentation by adding, “I want to stress that fencing is itself temporary,” a distinction that carries weight when considering town regulations, where permanent and temporary structures are bound to different design requirements.
The plan received a tepid but ultimately positive reaction from the ARB. Committee Member John Doyle inquired about the presence of fencing within a wetland buffer zone, and Town Planner Michael Wrinn explained that the Inland Wetlands Commission had already reviewed the plans and concluded that nothing in their regulations precludes fencing within a buffer zone.
All in all, the committee members agreed that although the plan called for a significant amount of fencing, very little of it would be visible from the road.
Vice Chair Sam Gardner (who led this portion of the meeting in place of Chair Rob Sanders, who needed to recuse himself) shifted the focus away from the narrow topic of fencing, asking whether anyone on the project team had given thought to the impact of this use on a historic building.
“A dog daycare or kennel is a pretty tough use impact,” he noted.
Maria Farinas, co-owner of Bone and Bark Inn, spoke to the considerations already made and incorporated into the plan, noting that she spoke with Nancy Jarvis, animal control officer for the State of Connecticut, for planning and oversight advice.
She explained a few of the mitigation efforts planned, including wrapping the post-and-beam elements, waterproofing the floors, and installing washable wainscoting to the walls.
She added, “We should explain that we’re not a traditional kennel. It’s more upscale with individual rooms for the dogs that are more home-like with couches. And they spend a lot of time outside, weather permitting.”
In conversations with GMW last month, Farinas described the concept of Bone and Bark Inn as “almost a bed-and-breakfast for dogs.”
Following the discussion, the committee members voted unanimously to report to P&Z that the ARB found no issues with the proposal.
During the ARB portion of the evening, the committee members also approved a plan for screening rooftop mechanical equipment at the ASML site at 77 Danbury Rd. and reviewed a proposal to add an HVAC unit to the site plan for 200 Danbury Rd. Dubbed “Sharp Hill Square,” this development will include retail, offices, and 24 residential units. As part of the project, developer Patrick Downend agreed to restore the historic Raymond Morehouse House as an adaptive reuse opportunity.
The committee members expressed hesitation about the current design of the HVAC unit. After making headway on a new design option, the ARB requested that Downend return with additional details and renderings of the new plan.
Sanders explained his hesitation about greenlighting the verbally agreed-upon design without documentation submitted depicting the HVAC unit. “I’m remembering last month with the doughnut shop — because of HVAC, we grew a large goiter on the side of the building and I found that personally objectionable. I’m cautious about saying this is okay without a document that shows what it’s going to look like.”
Downend agreed to submit additional details to Wrinn, after which the committee indicated that the review process would be quick and could take place outside of formal ARB meetings.
Village District Design Advisory Commission
Moving onto the Village District Design Advisory Commission portion of the evening, the group welcomed attorney Jim Murphy back to present on the proposal, first covered in GMW last week. The Glengate Company, a Wilton-based landscape and pool design company, has submitted an application to convert the building on the corner of Old Ridgefield Rd. and Hubbard Rd. into a retail location, showroom and office space. Presently, the building is home to Bankwell Bank.
In addition to facade alterations to create a display window, Glengate intends to rethink the entire driveway section of the site, possibly adding sidewalks for safer pedestrian access and creating a native planting area, with an emphasis on pollinator plants and local flora.
After expressing excitement about the possibilities for the site with this new tenant, the VDDAC urged owner Jordan “Jordy” Scott to enter into an ongoing dialogue with the committee members as the final plans take shape.
“I encourage you to come in during the very early stages of design,” Sanders said. “We’ve been saying that for all of our existence — rather than, ‘Here’s our application,’ and it’s detailed and ready for P&Z — we want people to come in and talk to us during the ideas phase.”
The meeting concluded with a discussion of ideas and priorities for the Wilton Center master plan, a project with planning firm BFJ that will examine ways to strengthen the Wilton Center Area as an attractive, vibrant, and walkable commercial core for residents and visitors alike. GMW will summarize recommendations prepared by both ARB/VDDAC and the Historic District Commission in a follow-up article later this week.
This Thursday, Mar. 10, BFJ and the master plan subcommittee will convene with ARB/VDDAC for a joint meeting, ahead of the public workshop on Thursday, Mar. 31.