Affordable housing units near train station move forward, again

A plan to build 30 apartments on Old Danbury Road, near Trackside, was presented to the Planning & Zoning Commission on Monday. This presentation marks another step in a long process to add more affordable housing in Wilton.
Developer Patrick Downend, who originally proposed developing affordable housing at 44 Westport Road, has plans to purchase a one-acre lot on Old Danbury Road from the  town of Wilton so long as his plans pass all of the town’s land use boards.
Downend plans to purchase the lot for a net price of $933,000, which includes a credit of $112,000 because the developer is building deeper-than-neccessary sewage systems to accommodate potential future development.
Thirty percent of the housing units built on Old Danbury Road would qualify as affordable housing.
Half of the affordable units in any development in Wilton must be accessible to someone making 80% of Connecticut’s median income ($51,200). The second half must be accessible to someone making 60% of the median income ($38,400).
The town still owns three more acres of land near the site, which could be rezoned and developed in the future.
Though some have suggested the Old Danbury Road site was originally purchased by the town for use as open space, Bulletin records show the town bought a total of 13.1 acres of land from the Emery Freight Corp. with no clear intentions, and has since leased some of that land to the Trackside Teen Center and Wilton Commons.

Planning discussion

A main feature of Monday’s discussion at the Planning & Zoning meeting revolved around Downend’s plans to completely renovate Old Danbury Road as part of the development.
“We’re going to put in new pavement, new sub-base, and new concrete curbing” from Wilton Commons along the reconstructed Old Danbury Road to a point near the main entrance of the new development, professional engineer Joseph Canas said, representing Downend.
The developer also plans to place a sidewalk from Wilton Commons down Station Road and north up Old Danbury Road.
Some commissioners expressed reservations about the close proximity of the new building to the Wilton Commons property line, but Canas said that, in his professional opinion, 14 feet of separation was more than enough for the situation.
“I’m comfortable with 14-foot setbacks. I’ve had clients with less separation,” he said.
The commission and the applicant also discussed possibilities for fire and emergency access, including an idea that would allow access to Old Danbury Road from Station Road.
“There is the possibility of grass pavers that would support the movement of a fire apparatus” from Station Road to Old Danbury Road, Town Planner Bob Nerney said. “That would allow an apparatus to come in from the north and the south. That was acceptable to the fire chief.”
As part of the development plan, landscape architect Kate Throckmorton, on behalf of Downend, asked the commission to approve lighting for the parking lot at a lower power than required by regulation.
“The regs ask for 2.5 foot candles, but that is more for high commercial use. One foot candle is more standard [for this kind of development]. I strongly believe one foot candle is adequate for this development.”