Tonight’s regularly scheduled Planning and Zoning Commission meeting has been moved to the Brubeck Room at Wilton Library because overflow crowds are expected, all to take part in a public hearing that’s on the agenda. Up for discussion is a challenge being brought against town regulations on age-restricted housing.
The hearing is being held to allow public comment on an application filed by resident Vicki Mavis to amend the AROD (Age Restricted Overlay District) zoning regulation adopted by the town last November.
The age-restricted overlay regulations adopted by the town last year allows the development of housing for residents age 55-and-older, specifying one- and two-acre residential districts on Danbury, Westport and Ridgefield roads.
As part of the application, Mavis has requested a moratorium be placed on any developments that would fall under AROD until a final decision on her amendment is made.
Mavis’ application seeks to remove Ridgefield Rd. from the regulation as a potential AROD zone, asserting that, “The inclusion of Ridgefield Rd. as a potential location for an AROD is inconsistent with the Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD)…”
According to the application, the AROD would allow high-density development where town water and sewer are available, which Mavis says contradicts the POCD. “The POCD specifically identifies Ridgefield Rd. as a “Sewer Avoidance Area” and the Future Use Plan for the roadway is identified as “Low Residential Density” and “Open Space” areas.
Her application also references “Wilton’s character” as something specifically described in the POCD: “‘…open space and the overall feel of “open-ness,” roads lined with trees and stonewalls, historic buildings, and scenic vistas.’” She says that the “‘overall vision’” for Wilton has remained consistent in the POCDs drafted over the last 20 years, with a “desire to ‘preserve and enhance Wilton’s semi-rural and residential character.’ Nothing in the POCD indicates that abandoning this character would benefit the Town.”
The application specifies Ridgefield Rd. only, and does not ask for changes regarding either Westport or Danbury Rds..
Mavis’ application has drawn substantial support, both from residents and public organizations in Wilton. Planning & Zoning has received letters in support of the application to remove Ridgefield Rd. from AROD zones from the Wilton Historical Society Board of Trustees, the chair of the Historic District and Historic Properties Commission, and the Wilton Land Conservation Trust, as well as several residents, all writing their opposition to having Ridgefield Rd. be open to such high-density development that AROD would allow.
In addition, Mavis and others have created a group called Preserve Wilton, maintaining a Facebook page and coordinating efforts to contact town officials and advocate for their goal.
Opposition grew from plans being pursued by developer James Fieber, the principal of 183 Ridgefield Rd., LLC, to develop the 13-plus acre property at 183 Ridgefield Rd.. In February, Fieber submitted plans for a 35-unit, age-restricted development and an application to extend sewer up Ridgefield Rd. from Wilton Center. A month later he withdrew that application,
Since then, Casey Healy, the Gregory and Adams attorney for 183 Ridgefield Rd. LLC has filed an application on April 25 on behalf of his client to change the zone from 2-acre residential to an AROD zone. The application states, “The property at 183 Ridgefield Rd. …is an ideal location for an age-restricted housing development.”
According to a spokesperson for Fieber, he intends to be at the public hearing this evening.