UPDATE:  You can now watch the video! Scroll down at the end of this article.

Last night the nine candidates running for the Planning and Zoning Commission took the stage at the Wilton Library for a Candidate Forum in advance of the upcoming municipal elections. They were there to answer questions submitted by Wilton residents.

The Forum was sponsored by the Wilton League of Women Voters, the Wilton Library and GOOD Morning Wilton.

There are nine candidates for eight open seats, although it’s not as simple as it first sounds. There are three 2-year terms open, and there are three candidates running–Basam Nabulsi (D), Rick Tomasetti (R) and Matthew Murphy (R). Technically, those three candidates are uncontested.

The contested part of the race is for the five 4-year terms–there are six candidates vying for those five seats: Eric Fanwick (D), Doris Knapp (D), Peter Shiue (R), Sally Poundstone (R), Christopher Pagliaro (R) and Melissa-Jean Rotini (unaffiliated).

The questions posed to the candidates touched on the main issues this land-use board deals with:

  • How do you think our town should address the state’s 8-30 g affordable housing mandate?
  • What should P&Z do regarding improving the visibility of the signage along Rte. 7?
  • Should P&Z try to support economic growth when considering applications?

Also raised were broader questions about the candidates approach to town planning and their vision for what Wilton could and should be.

  • Does the term “Semi-Rural Village” still apply–do you consider Wilton a semi-rural village, and is it appropriate to keep in the next Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD)? 
  • What is your vision for Rt. 7 in the future, and do you see any kind of higher density development outside of town center that would be acceptable?
  • How familiar are you with the 2010 POCD and what specifically in the POCD do you take issue with? What would you like to see changed for the 2020 POCD?

There were some questions that specifically touched on the controversial issue in front of the current P&Z Commission–age restricted development zoning (AROD)–which the candidates declined to answer, given that they all potentially will be making decisions and casting votes on current applications.

All of the candidates agreed (in one way or another) that maintaining the charm and character of Wilton is important, but that it’s also important to have a balanced approach that allows for appropriate, well-thought out development and efforts to encourage commercial growth that complements the respect for Wilton’s history.

As a sponsor of the Candidate Forums, GOOD Morning Wilton will be airing the recorded video of the event and will update this article with that recording.

The chairs of the Town Committees both applauded their candidates.

“The GOP slate for P&Z were very effective tonight in communicating how they will navigate thorny issues at at difficult time for Wilton. They are well-qualified group with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and they all acquitted themselves well. Most importantly, they made clear that they will ask the right questions, listen, and engage,” says Bill Lalor, chair of the Republican Town Committee.

Deb McFadden, chair of the Democratic Town Committee (and herself a candidate for Board of Selectman) comments:

“I am grateful to GOOD Morning Wilton, the League of Women Voters, and the Wilton Library for the Planning and Zoning debate, so Wilton voters have an opportunity to learn more about the candidates. This is an unusual year with eight of the nine seats up for election.

“Doris Knapp and Eric Fanwick, Democratic candidates for four-year terms, and Bas Nabulsi, for a two-year term, were outstanding in answering questions with thoughtful and informative responses. They all demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the complex issues Planning and Zoning faces. And they were not bashful in sharing their views. Each stressed the importance of the revisions to the Plan of Conservation and Development. Importantly, they emphasized that community input and involvement is essential.

“I hope voters who missed the debate will watch it on GMW, the Library website or Channel 79, to see our candidates in action and judge for themselves.

“As the moderator was leaving the event, she mentioned that she moderates candidate debates in many communities and is always impressed with the high caliber of candidates in Wilton. I am very proud of the candidates we have running for Planning and Zoning on the Democratic ticket and hope Wilton votes to seat them all.

As the one unaffiliated candidate, Rotini had her own take as well:  “I am very grateful to GMW, the Library, and the League for putting together last night’s event. I am confident that all who were present and those who will watch the video will see that I have the knowledge and experience necessary to thoroughly review applications before P&Z. My responses to the citizens’ questions last night show that I have a wide range of expertise that I will use for the benefit of our town and its citizens. I believe our electorate will recognize that these qualities are the most important factors in choosing a candidate.”

This evening, the Candidate Forums continue, with candidates from the other two contested races–Board of Selectmen and Board of Education–taking the Brubeck Room stage to answer questions (BoS at 7-8 p.m., BoE at 8:15-9:15 p.m.).

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