A planned multi-unit apartment building in development stages at 44 Westport Rd. (at Dudley Rd.) has neighbors and Wilton residents upset and mobilizing to try and prevent the project from moving forward.
The proposal that was recently submitted to the town by a developer asks to take down the historic single family home at 44 Westport Rd. and build a 20-unit apartment complex with 30 parking spaces on the one-acre lot. The property is abutted by single-family homes in a residential zone that is zoned for one-acre parcels.
Neighbors have begun organizing local support to mount objections to the proposal in front of Wilton’s Planning & Zoning commission. A Facebook page has been created called “Save 44 Westport.” Neighborhood residents have asserted that the developer is trying to “use affordable housing laws” to circumvent local zoning restrictions. In a letter to the Wilton Bulletin published yesterday, Dudley Rd. resident Bob Kettle wrote that should the proposal be approved by Wilton’s P&Z it will set a precedent that might allow at least eight other nearby one-acre parcels to be developed similarly. He warned of a “slippery slope” leading to a possible “chain reaction of similar petitions.”
A hearing will be held by Planning & Zoning on the proposal on June 9. The neighbor-organized Facebook page asks residents to attend the meeting–which is currently scheduled to take place at the Town Hall Annex Room A at 7:15 p.m., but may be moved to the Wilton Library if sizable numbers of people are expected to attend. They also list an address for residents to send letters to the commission (Planning & Zoning Commission, Town Hall Annex, 238 Danbury Rd, Wilton, CT 06897).
The neighborhood group has created an email address as well: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am surprised there is no mention of razing the house. Isn’t it quite old?
We do note above that the plan is to take down the historic home. As there has not yet been formal objection heard in front of P&Z, we’re not sure what grounds the neighbors will cite as they move forward with hoping to halt the development. At this point, the only public comment that’s been made is what Mr. Kettle wrote in his letter published in the Bulletin and what appears on the Facebook page.
A friend of mine grew up in that house before moving to Drum Hill. It was really a beautiful, special antique. Disappointing to see that go. Interesting too how back then was also the first town upset over bringing zoning regs down from 4 acre minimums to 1 acre minimums, and allowing condominiums. As much as I love the condos, that was the 1st major step Wilton took from being a horse-country town to a suburb. This is exactly why, back then, people opposed changing acre minimums and the condos.
What is really significant about tearing down this historic home is that it played an important part in the Underground Railroad pre-Civil War, if I remember correctly. The Wilton Bulletin ran a story a number of years ago when the house was on the market that there is a tunnel from the house that goes across Rte 33 towards Rte 7 that slaves would use as a escape route.
What a shame to tear down a house of such historical importance in Wilton.
Ooops! I stand corrected. It was rumored to have a tunnel from the house to the Lambert House, but it has not been found. Wouldn’t it be interesting and sad if the house came down, and, lo and behold, there was the tunnel.
I am surprised they can’t – with all technology available today – find that tunnel, that someone in town isn’t willing to invest in that sort of research. That is so, genuinely interesting.
The attorney representing Patrick Downend, the developer of 20 unit housing with
6 affordable units, is Casey Healy of Gregory and Adams in Wilton Center.
The formula for success for Downend seems to be: find a property for sale that fits his criteria, hire an in-town attorney for representation, submit a proposal to Town to allow construction of (in our case) 20 units pursuant to Section 8-30g of CT General Statutes, and sitting back while studies are completed and town defends itself and he ultimately gets proposal through in some way beneficial to his interests.
Recent articles as such in Ridgefield, Ct on Main St in 2012. He realizes that section 8-30g is much harder to fight because of the affordable housing piece.
Google Patrick Downend and you will find most of his projects in many other towns like Wilton.
Even if you do not have a position on this Planning and Zoning items, it is very interesting reading.
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