Editorial: What is Wilton’s future?

A public hearing will take place Thursday evening, July 18, that is unlike most of the other public hearings held throughout the year. Whereas many public hearings by Wilton’s boards and commissions might interest only a percentage of the community — as with land use issues, zoning issues, or some recreational issues — this hearing will affect everyone.

It is the public’s opportunity to be heard on the draft Plan of Conservation and Development and it begins at 7 p.m. at the Trackside Teen Center at 15 Station Road.

The plan is only updated every 10 years, so there won’t be another crack at this until 2029. Anyone who cares about how the town will grow, how it will look, how people will travel, how they will live, how they will prosper should plan on being there.

According to the plan, the town is looking forward through “key land-use issues like demographics, housing, conservation, sustainability, transportation, facilities, infrastructure and economic development.”

It also looks at how the town will face outside challenges from things like the effects of internet commerce and telecommuting on the local economy, state regulations and fiscal policies, general cost of living, and housing affordability. How will the town’s environmental and historic resources be protected?

The Planning and Zoning Commission has invited public participation through no fewer than nine open meetings over the past year and a half and surveys on housing; transportation; community facilities and infrastructure; Wilton Center and the areas of Cannondale, Georgetown, Silvermine, northwest Wilton and, southwest Wilton, and southeast Wilton; as well as a “visioning” survey.

A telephone survey conducted in December drew 404 responses and the vast majority of those responding — 92.4 percent — reported their quality of life living in Wilton was good or very good. The “right” Plan of Conservation and Development — created through broad community input — can help keep it that way.

The draft plan is lengthy — 134 pages — but it covers a lot of ground. A look at the table of contents will tell you it looks at Wilton today, what the vision and plan are, the town’s natural and historical environment, human and economic environment, built environment, future land use plans, and how it all might be implemented.

The “environment” chapters include the goals that were arrived at through the input received at all those meetings and surveys, as well as input from the town’s boards and commissions.

The chapter on Built Environment, for example, discusses how to:

 Strengthen Wilton Center as the economic, residential, recreational and cultural hub of the community.

 Improve the economic viability of Cannondale.

 Bring mixed-use, transit- and pedestrian-oriented development to Georgetown.

 Enhance the transportation network.

 Improve and maintain town-owned facilities.

 Maintain a safe and efficient public utility services and infrastructure.

Who should go to this public hearing? Anyone who down the road might ask, “how is this happening” or “why is this being done” in town will have a clearer view of the future vision.

The draft plan and complete results of all surveys may be seen online at wilton2029.com. Comments may also be submitted through the website, but only until the hearing on July 18. The Planning and Zoning Commission is being assisted in developing the plan by Milone and MacBroom, a planning and engineering firm based in Cheshire.