Commission continues Architectural Review Board discussion

A new Architectural Review Board could help the town and applicants if established.
The Planning and Zoning Commission continued its discussion on possibly establishing an Architectural Review Board (ARB) at its meeting Monday night, March 11. No formal vote was held at the meeting.
Planning and Zoning Chairman Scott Lawrence said he hoped to get input from the Village District Advisory Board before making a final decision.
“Frankly, under this proposed version they would become the ARB,” Lawrence said.
The purpose of the ARB would be to give advisory, pre-application architectural review of certain applications. This will serve to improve architectural design, function and aesthetics of sites and buildings in town, Lawrence said.
“We would need the Board of Selectmen to bless the Village District as being a temporary subcommittee,” he added.
If the ARB were to be approved, there would be six members who would also serve on and as the Village District Design Advisory Committee, Lawrence said. At least one member would be an architect, landscape architect or planner who is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
“It basically forces both boards to have professional membership for at least one member,” he said.
The ARB would not vote and would only give recommendations. If three members say yes and three said no to an application it would be clarified why in their reports, Lawrence said.
Members of the review board would serve a two-year term and would then have to be renominated, Lawrence said. If established, the Planning and Zoning commission would nominate members and the Board of Selectmen would appoint them to the board.
“If an existing member for whatever reason wasn’t working out, we could choose not to renominate them,” Lawrence said.
The ARB would apply to historically and architecturally significant buildings, commercial, retail applicants and more. One of the questions discussed was if the ARB would be required for things that don’t rise to the level of the special permit or site plan.
Town Planner Bob Nerney said Ridgefield’s review board looks at all applications. Commission member Chris Pagliaro said he agreed with the review board looking at everything except for single-family residential use.
“Unless the single family applies to a special permit or a site plan,” he added.
Commission Vice Chairman Rich Tomasetti said he doesn’t believe Wilton has enough development going on to limit the ARB to only Route 7.
“We want to give it enough (applications) that there is a certain consistency and the ARB is doing enough applications,” he said.
Tomasetti said architectural review is an important element of an application, but the steps afterwards are just as important.
“I know it makes everyone feel good if they get an architectural review, but it’s really the second step not the first,” he said.
The commission’s next regular meeting will be on March 25 at 7:15 p.m. in town hall annex Room A.