At the Wilton Planning & Zoning Commission’s special meeting on July 8, the nine members voted unanimously to focus on reviewing regulation changes on the Danbury Road corridor, creating a subcommittee dedicated to examining the area and making recommendations to the rest of the commission.
This decision was a result of members agreeing to take on the burden themselves to review regulations as COVID-19 has put a strain on town finances. Although many members campaigned for their seats on a platform of hiring a consultant for the master plan, there are probably no funds available for that task, according to P&Z Chairman Rick Tomasetti.
At the previous meeting on June 22, the Commission had discussed the need for more comprehensive reform across a wider area, including commercial and R-1A and R-2A zones throughout Wilton. However, after speaking with Town Planner Michael Wrinn and thinking it over, Tomasetti proposed narrowing down the geographic focus area rather than emphasize specific regulatory aspects, such as parking.
The commission determined that the Danbury Road corridor be the priority because it is comprised of many different zones, and it serves as the face of the town to many visitors and commuters. If time allows, the subcommittee will possibly continue on to look at the Wilton Center zone,
“It’s a great town to drive through and I think that it’s really important to focus on the heart, which is Wilton Center, but the way that you’re going to get people there is by revamping the corridor, so I think that’s a great place to start,” commissioner Jill Warren said.
Members of the commission then discussed what constituted the corridor, and which areas of the corridor should be focused on in the analysis. The recently-revised Plan of Conservation and Development defines the corridor by three segments–from the Norwalk/Wilton border to the Wolfpit area; from the Wolfpit area to the Cannondale area; and then north of Cannondale. The discussion included comments from commissioners on the potential challenges of including the Cannondale area; reviewing the corridor holistically and recognizing that new regulations could affect each zone on the corridor differently; and the town’s efforts to provide affordable housing and housing diversity.
The P&Z members reached a general consensus that the first area of consideration would be the corridor section from the Norwalk/Wilton line to the Cannondale area.
“I think from the border to Cannondale, it’s discombobulated. I don’t think it’s appropriate to the needs of this community,” Tomasetti said. “I think we have a lot of buildings that are in shambles as a result of zoning being the prohibitive factor in value and development…I don’t think that there’s any unity to the feel and streetscape of this community which was also part and parcel created by the widening of Route 7 that has not yet been addressed in zoning.”
Members chosen for the subcommittee included the P&Z Commission executive board of Tomasetti, Vice-Chair Melissa Rotini, and Secretary Doris Knapp, joined by Commissioner Christopher Pagliaro. The Commission determined the subcommittee’s goals to be focusing on the defined area of the corridor and making recommendations to the rest of the commission; subcommittee members were also tasked with drafting recommendations to streamline the process and ensure productivity.
The subcommittee will meet via Zoom on Wednesdays of the alternate weeks in between the commission’s regularly scheduled meetings. All meetings will be public and recorded.