Seven years after Wilton cleared regulatory red tape to make way for the town’s first ever hotel, the project is finally headed for an up or down vote, possibly as early as tonight.

Planned for the iPark property on the Wilton/Norwalk border, the proposal calls for the creation of a four-story hotel with 120 rooms and 9,000 square feet of meeting rooms and amenities. The site itself stretches across the border between the two towns and in February 2021, Norwalk approved the construction of a 132-unit residential building on the site’s southern end. Construction on the residential project has not yet begun. A multistory parking garage is currently under construction however, and will serve both structures.

In June 2016, P&Z approved a zoning change to allow the hotel project but has been waiting ever since for a full application to be submitted. Despite the long wait for the owner to submit the formal proposal, the town and commissions have moved fairly briskly since receiving the application.

In November, the Architectural Review Board reviewed the design, lighting, and landscape plan for the site. The Board praised the brick materials and encouraged the owner to incorporate native pollinator-friendly vegetation, a change that earned applause from the Conservation Commission at its own review of the proposal. During ARB’s review, the applicant also incorporated feedback from the Board about the design of the parapets and the layout of the windows, and changed the brick façade to wrap completely around the lower perimeter of the building.

The application also received approval from the fire marshal, after adding additional sprinklers, hydrants, and aerial access; and from the Department of Public Works, which fine-tuned the treatment of stormwater and sewer flow on the site.

During the Monday, June 12 P&Z meeting, the applicant team presented further details on the site. Landscape architect John Imbiano outlined plans for a 100-foot pollinator pathway between the site’s parking lot and the Norwalk River, as well as rain gardens and a bioswale incorporated into the parking lot itself that will naturally filter and control stormwater.

Details about the site’s parking plan and its impact on traffic have been the subject of several discussions throughout the review process. The applicant submitted the original 2021 traffic study created during Norwalk’s review of the residential project on the site. This analysis found that the upgraded campus (both the residential building and the proposed hotel) would not have a significant adverse impact on traffic in the area. An updated review of the 2021 study found that, with overall traffic along Route 7 still down between 12% and 17% compared to before the pandemic, the original findings remain valid and no major impact is expected.

Commissioner Eric Fanwick would later inquire about whether Wilton requested a peer review of this traffic analysis, but Town Planner Michael Wrinn noted that a peer review was not ordered in this case. Peer review is an action the Commission can order in which the town selects a company to offer a second opinion on an analysis submitted by an applicant. The town could still choose to order a peer review of the traffic study if questions remain during tonight’s meeting.

The topic of parking proved even more complex, with the mixed uses on the site creating confusion about how many parking spaces would be required. In her presentation on June 12, iPark Executive Vice President Lynne Ward summarized the group’s goal: “We’re taking what’s now a parking lot and we want to make it an oasis… but we do still need parking.” She noted that the planned parking allotment exceeds Wilton’s requirements by 10 spaces by their calculation.

During the Monday, June 12 meeting, the Commission agreed to extend the project’s public hearing in order to allow Planning & Zoning Department staff enough time to review these calculations itself. No public comments were made at the time. On Thursday, June 22, the engineer on the project submitted a request for a 20% reduction in parking requirements, allowed by Wilton’s regulations for mixed-use properties like this one.

The Monday, June 26 meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission will begin at 7 p.m., with iPark up first on the agenda.