Town officials have been saying for a while that commercial real estate developers are eyeing Wilton as a prime location for larger-scale multi-family living projects — and that some of those projects will fall under 8-30g affordable housing statutes.

Now, those premonitions are proving to be true, as two such proposals have arrived in Wilton’s Planning and Zoning Department to start the process of consideration before the town’s land-use officials.

The two proposals are for multi-family apartment buildings:

  • 24 Danbury Rd.: a six-story, mixed-use building with 89 residential units (studios, one- and two-bedroom residences) on five floors above 3,700 square feet of grade-level retail; also planned is grade-level parking for 100 cars
  • 221 Danbury Rd.: a six-story, residential unit with 150 apartments (studios, one- and two-bedroom residences) on five floors over grade-level and underground parking for 214 cars.

Both proposals were sent by Wilton architect Douglas Cutler, who also owns Better Environments, LLC, the real estate company that owns the properties and the commercial buildings currently on the sites.

Cutler called the proposals “design concepts” in materials he sent to Michael Wrinn, Wilton’s town planner and director of planning and land-use management, and requested pre-application meetings to discuss the plans with the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Architectural Review Board.

A pre-application meeting is an informal discussion that allows developers to get non-binding feedback on proposals from town officials.

24 Danbury Rd.

The parcel at 24 Danbury Rd. is located at the intersection of Rte. 7 and Kent Rd., on the northbound side of the road. Currently, there is a 12,500 square foot office/retail building on the site, which would be torn down and replaced by the six-story building.

The new building would feature a pedestal design of five stories above ground-level parking, offering 100 parking spots. The structure would include 3,700 square feet of retail space on the ground level, with five stories comprised of 89 residential apartments — 15 Studios, 47 one-bedrooms, and 27 two-bedrooms.

According to the submitted materials, the developer needs to repurpose the property due to “declining demand for suburban retail and office.”

If the proposal moves forward to a formal application, the project would require a zone change from Design Retail Business (DRB), which allows general business usage, to Design Residence District (DRD)/Townhouse Residence District (THRD) to allow for higher-density residences.

The proposal reflects multiple other changes from what is currently allowed, including doubling in height from 39 feet to 76 feet:

  • from four stories to six stories
  • from 39 feet to 76 feet
  • setback changes in the front (50-foot minimum to 30 feet); side (25-foot minimum to 6 feet); and rear (85 feet abutting residential to 17 feet)

The developer describes the building as energy-efficient, featuring rooftop solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations, and would be built to qualify for the 179D energy tax credit — which requires a five-story minimum to qualify. The materials state that “The hope is to pass all savings, big and small, to future tenants.”

The design also includes a rooftop garden as well as two ground-level green spaces where there are wetlands on the property.

The materials also describe the number of units designated under affordable housing statute 8-30g: “This proposal would include 15% of the apartments to be deed-restricted as affordable to persons earning no more than 80% of the Area Median Income, under the 830G plan and 15% of the apartments to be deed-restricted as affordable to persons earning 60% of the Area Median Income under 8-30G plan.”

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221 Danbury Rd.

The property at 221 Danbury Rd. sits on the southbound side of Rte. 7, across from the Wilton Historical Society. Currently, there is an 11,600 square foot commercial building on a one-acre site.

The proposed new building would also feature a pedestal design of five stories above ground-level and underground parking, offering 214 parking spots. The building would offer 150 residential units consisting of 15 studios, 75 one-bedrooms and 60 two-bedrooms.

Like the other proposal, Cutler says the need to change the property’s usage is due to the “declining demand for suburban office” space.

The project would require a similar zone change, from DRB with general business usage to DRD/THRD to allow higher-density housing. At six stories (compared to the four currently allowed), the maximum height would hit 65 feet.

Setbacks would also change, shrinking on all sides: front (50-foot minimum to 5 feet); side (25-foot minimum to 15 feet at the base and 12 feet above); and rear (85 feet abutting residential to 15 feet “with a 7-foot bump-out”).

The building would also feature a green roof-top garden and be energy-efficient, with rooftop solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, and other features to qualify for the federal 179D energy tax credit.

Like the proposal for 24 Danbury Rd., this building would also include “15% of the apartments to be deed-restricted as affordable to persons earning no more than 80% of the Area Median Income, under the 830G plan and 15% of the apartments to be deed-restricted as affordable to persons earning 60% of the Area Median Income under 8-30G plan.”

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The 8-30g Factor

Because the applications are being made under section 8-30g, the developer does not need to comply with current zoning regulation limits or requirements. For example, any limits on the building height or density (number of units), as well as requirements for setbacks for the property, are essentially not applicable.

The 8-30g statute states that if a municipality does not have 10% of its available housing options determined to be affordable, then a developer who proposes a project with affordable housing units can challenge any denial of an application. The only grounds on which a town can try to justify its denial is if it can show the development is a threat to public health and safety.

Town officials have expressed the need to increase the number of affordable housing units in Wilton. As part of the 2019 Plan of Conservation and Development drafting process, the town codified objectives to create more alternative housing options to serve a changing demographic population and provide more benefit to its business community.

Officials have also focused on the Rte. 7 corridor as the area where development should be encouraged.

Neither proposal has been scheduled for the agendas of either the P&Z Commission or the ARB.

3 replies on “Two New 8-30g Plans Arrive In Wilton’s P&Z Pipeline”

  1. The more 8g-30 you build, the further from the 10% goal you get, because 70% of the apartments you’re adding are market rate. The denominator grows faster than the numerator. Alice in Wonderland: “the faster you run, the more you get behind.”

  2. Personally I love the idea of more rental in Wilton. However I also feel that these buildings should require concrete structure between floors and soundproofing and fireproofing between apartments. No retail below. Avalon and many other apts and condos in Wilton are paper thin and noise level between apartments as well as fire safety are non existent.

  3. CaptainDave’s comment seems plausible, but it’s not true when the numerator is much smaller than the denominator. As an example suppose we have 10 affordable units out of 1000 units today or 1%. Then we add 10 units of housing of which 3 are affordable (30%). We now have 13 affordable units of 1010 total housing units. The affordable units now represent 1.3%.

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