Developer asked to address concerns over the 173-unit housing proposal in Wilton

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WILTON – The city’s largest multi-family housing proposal that’s still on the table won’t go beyond the Planning and Zoning Commission – for now.

A 173-unit housing project proposed at 141 Danbury Road was submitted to the Zoning Commission in a public hearing on Wednesday evening after it passed the pre-application phase. The applicants have responded to some of the concerns raised by the commissioners during their previous interaction, but the development team always walked away with criticism and questions from members of the zoning commission. On top of that, a member of the public, who said she was an architect by trade, called the Danbury Road proposal “aggressive” and “unsuitable”.

The Danbury Road proposal will require approval from the Inland Wetlands Commission first as the property abuts the Norwalk River. Then the Planning and Zoning Commission can bring a motion to close the public hearing phase and grant permission to proceed with construction.

“We would need to continue the public hearing” until the Inland Wetlands Commission delivers a report on drainage, town planner Michael Wrinn told the zoning commission on Wednesday.

According to Lisa Feinberg, a lawyer representing the developer, she and the rest of the candidates will not meet with the Inland Wetlands Commission on September 23 as scheduled.

Instead, the candidates will meet with the commission on October 14, where Feinberg said she “hopes” the council will close the request and bring it back to Planning and Zoning for a decision.

As for the zoning commission’s review of the applicants’ updated submission on Wednesday, the commissioners asked for more details.

President Rick Tomasetti asked the architectural team for further renderings of various aspects of the property, including the front of the building, the back face of the building and the proposed yard.

While the proposed apartment building is expected to sit on a slope as it approaches the rear of the property towards the Norwalk River, Tomasetti also asked architects to consider the building’s facade s ‘collapses and “makes the building appear to be anchored in the back.” Currently, he said, the design requires the display of support columns.

The vice-chair of the committee, Melissa-Jean Rotini, asked for clarification on the proposed amendments to the text as well as on the fire safety issues. Wrinn confirmed to Rotini that Wilton’s fire chief and fire marshal both reviewed the property and the building plans.

Traffic research professional Craig Yannes gave the panel an overview of what he found after examining the possible impacts the proposal would have on Danbury Road. Yannes said that in his opinion he did not expect the additional traffic from cars arriving and leaving the apartment complex to have a “significant impact”. He added that the Wilton Police Department approved the study.

Zoning commissioner Jill Warren was not convinced.

She said she found it “a little odd” that in a 173-unit proposal, only 46 cars were added to the local traffic flow, according to the applicants’ report.

While Feinberg addressed some of Warren and Tomasetti’s concerns, she also spent part of the meeting describing what the candidates had changed since the first pre-candidacy meeting.

According to Feinberg, the applicants spent time modifying the entrance to the property; clean up the design and add different materials, including red brick for a more classic approach; change the roof line; and set back from the top floor lofts from the rest of the facade.

Following up on Tomasetti by asking for more detailed renderings, Wrinn explained that it would be beneficial to both parties if applicants returned with a more complete view and floor plans of what the lofts should look like when completed. The lofts were a topic of discussion during the first pre-application meeting.

Despite the updates and changes that coincided with the commission’s initial concerns, one member of the public was still not happy with the proposal.

Barbara L. Geddis, who calls herself an architect, found the application aggressive and unsuitable for the location on which it is proposed.

She asked the commission and the candidates why the “tallest building in Wilton” would be at 141 Danbury Road “of all places”.

Applicants now have to wait a full month to return to the Planning and Zoning Board after having to reprogram with inland wetlands. Pending the latter’s approval, the applicants will return on October 25 for another public hearing with the zoning commission, where they hope a decision will be made.


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