The Wilton Planning and Zoning Commission added another member to its ranks on Monday, July 24. In a unanimous vote, the Commissioners appointed Democrat Mark Ahasic to replace Florence Johnson, who announced her resignation earlier this month. The commissioners also interviewed fellow candidates Bernard Paxton-Lawrence and Keith Denning, Wilton’s own State Representative, earlier in the evening in a closed executive session.
Ahasic is President of Ahasic Aviation Advisors and a Senior Advisor with the Pegasus Aviation Advisors group. He previously worked as a planner for JetBlue and the global design and engineering firm Arup, among other entities. In 2018, Ahasic contributed to Regional Plan Association’s Fourth Regional Plan, which lays out transit policy recommendations and infrastructure priorities for the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metro area over the next two decades.
Ahasic will serve the rest of Johnson’s elected term, which concludes on Nov. 30, 2023.
Tying up Loose Ends Ahead of “Summer Break”
The Commission also dealt with a few pieces of work ahead of its planned August recess. Wilton Land Conservation Trust’s request to phase the completion of its educational center project received approval. This vote allowed the institution to begin hosting public programs at 183 Ridgefield Rd. once the essential functional elements of the site are in place, with a phase two of the project to follow that will include landscaping and further site improvements.
A scheduled public hearing for the Lake Club’s application to convert existing tennis courts to pickleball courts was canceled when the application was withdrawn. Town Planner Michael Wrinn noted that the Lake Club plans to resubmit the application once sound reports have been completed.
This fall, the Commission will also revisit a curious zoning regulation that remains on the books banning dance studios from operating at ground level within Wilton Center. The little-known prohibition was brought to light during P&Z’s Monday, July 10 meeting, via an application expected to be submitted soon by MCL Piersall. The regulation as currently written also forbids a series of other institutions from using ground-level commercial space in Wilton Center, including charitable organizations, political groups, art studios, and broadcasting facilities.
In response to a question from Commissioner Eric Fanwick on July 10 about existing tenants operating at ground level, Wrinn noted that karate studios and similar businesses have traditionally been considered closer to retail than art, and thus have been allowed within Wilton Center.
Although P&Z is preparing to introduce new zoning regulations for Wilton Center via the master planning process, those new rules will function as an overlay, allowing property owners to choose between abiding by the current, existing zoning or opting into the newer, more progressive regulations. The current regulations will remain in place, particularly for existing building owners whose properties already conform to them, and they must be kept updated.
The next regular meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 11. The Greater Wilton Center Master Plan Subcommittee will likely meet during the month of August at a date to be determined.