Editorial: Happy outcome

Residents along Westport Road got an early holiday gift this week when First Selectman Bill Brennan announced a pending deal between the town and developer Patrick Downend to permanently withdraw an application for multi-family housing at 44 Westport Road. Instead, if all goes as planned, Mr. Downend will develop a one-acre parcel in a much more appropriate location on Old Danbury Road.

This is, as Mr. Brennan said Monday evening at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting, a “win-win” for the town and the developer. Mr. Downend will get to build more housing units than originally planned and Wilton will get more affordable units than planned. And, of course, 44 Westport Road will not be developed for multi-family housing due to a deed restriction that will accompany future sale of the property.

The deal as it stands calls for Mr. Downend to buy a one-acre lot owned by the town that abuts Wilton Commons and Trackside Teen Center. On it he would build a 30-unit apartment building with nine affordable units. The previous plan was for a 20-unit building on Westport Road with six affordable units.

There is no denying Wilton needs more affordable housing, and the best part of this plan is that it is not age-restricted. This affords young people the opportunity to live here, but does not prevent seniors from moving in as well.

Another upside is the proximity to the Wilton train station. Residents of the project will be able to walk to the station. When the walkway from the station to Wilton Center is built — with the $500,000 state grant the town won earlier this year — they will be able to walk into town as well.

This plan should not negatively impact Wilton Commons, which already has approvals in place for an expansion. And it does not appear that the lot, which is close to Route 7, would be useful for any other practical purpose.

Having an influx of tenants so close to the rail line may even revitalize the station, which lost its tenant earlier this year.

This is not a done deal. A purchase price has to be negotiated and the project will have to win all the necessary land-use approvals.

This will not be the last affordable-housing or multi-family proposal to be presented in Wilton, and future projects may not work out as well, but this is an excellent outcome for what had been a very controversial situation.