Officials: Proposed 173-unit apartment building too ‘urban looking’ for Wilton

Photo of J.D. Freda
The proposed 4.5 story, 173-unit apartment building at 141 Danbury Road has been panned by both the town's Architectural Review Board and Planning and Zoning Commission

The proposed 4.5 story, 173-unit apartment building at 141 Danbury Road has been panned by both the town's Architectural Review Board and Planning and Zoning Commission

Contributed rendering

WILTON — A proposed 173-unit multifamily housing building, which would easily be the largest of its kind in town, may be too “corporate” and “urban looking” for the small suburban community, according to its Planning and Zoning Commission.

Just one week after the town’s Architectural Review Board questioned the 141 Danbury Road proposal’s height, density and material choices, the project’s developers were asked Monday by the Planning and Zoning Commission about design, parking and affordability.

Samuel Fuller, president of Fuller Development who will be overseeing the project, said the building will provide an opportunity to bring more people into Wilton and offer an attractive locale for “future generations of Wilton residents to desire.”

Commission Chairman Rick Tomasetti, an architect by trade, said he has concerns with the project, which he doesn’t feel fits with the rest of the town.

“(This) seems like a piece of architecture that we could find in Charlotte or Washington D.C.,” Tomasetti told Fuller and his team at the meeting. “It doesn't feel super unique to a suburban Fairfield County community. It feels more urban and corporate.”

The chairman also referenced the size of the building, which is planned to be 4.5 stories. The podium-style building also is proposed to have an above-ground parking lot below the building.

Fuller contended that, due to the proximity to the Norwalk River, the property falls into a floodplain, which is forcing plans to raise the first floor units to a certain height.

The extra “half” floor consists of loft areas for top-floor units, providing for high ceilings and a more luxurious feel, according to the developers.

Commission member Doris Knapp pointed out the size disparity between town regulations and what the project is proposing. Fuller acknowledged the lofts may increase the height over the current zoning regulations, but contended the plan would appeal to potential residents.

“We definitely understand your concerns,” Fuller said. “The lofts are controversial. Current zoning (regulations) are 55 feet. The lofts put us to 65 feet.”

Fuller said he “asked to add the lofts” to the design because “they (would be) so cool for future residents.”

Fuller said only the top floor would be lofts, consisting of about 40 units.

There are 45 units proposed on each of the other floors, but slightly fewer on the top floor to make room for an indoor and outdoor common area with views of the Norwalk River.

Tomasetti said the lofts need to read more like a “secondary element.”

Fuller said three-bedroom units will have an average of two-and-a-half reserved parking spaces. The smaller units will be reserved an average of just under two spots. Fuller said these ratios are in line with current standards.

“We know about parking,” he said. “Parking is more than half the job.”

Commissioner Matthew Murphy said while he has concerns about the height of the project, he said this would likely be the only property in town to consider this plan.

Agreeing with that sentiment was , who said that bringing more people into Wilton was a positive.

“We need more of a population,” Commissioner Eric Fanwick said, referencing how a spike in population could lead to more nightlife, eateries and businesses in town.