Survey shows housing opinions

Not as many Wiltonians responded as consultants would have liked, but results are in from a mini survey on housing that was made available online at in the past month.

Questions in the survey, to which 268 residents responded, included whether they want to encourage the construction of apartments, and in what parts of town. Those survey results were presented March 15 at Wilton Library by the consultant, Milone & MacBroom, working on the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.

The results show that respondents want residential development the most in Wilton Center. There is general support for housing on Route 7, although the lowest support is north of Cannon Road.

The community is divided on whether to encourage more higher-density rental housing. Smaller units, from one to two bedrooms, had greater support than larger units of three or more bedrooms among respondents. Wilton Center and Route 7 near Norwalk were commonly cited as the most appropriate areas for this type of development.

More than 80% of respondents agreed that Wilton should try to attract more young professionals. However, rental housing was not universally supported.

A majority of respondents think Wilton should encourage the development of housing that costs less than $2,200 per month, and there is general support for developers building smaller single-family homes. About half the respondents did not support additional assisted-living units.

For those who already live in town, the survey found that 32% of owner-occupied units are burdened by their monthly housing costs, which means they pay more than 30% of their monthly income on mortgage payments, including local taxes. The figure is much higher for local renters, who are burdened at a rate of 41%.

Most neighboring towns, including New Canaan, Redding and Weston, had a higher percentage of residents living in a cost-burdened home or apartment.

As for population in town, the consultant reported that given known in-migration, and the character of current housing stock, which lends itself to family households, coupled with limited land availability for additional housings units, a relatively stable population is expected through the planning horizon.

The results are not scientific, but they point in the right direction. “I think we can have a better idea of what questions to ask when we prepare the phone survey,” said Scott Lawrence, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“I think the survey information is very useful,” said Sally Poundstone, a member of the P&Z.

The Plan of Conservation and Development is updated every 10 years. This latest version of the plan will carry Wilton through the year 2029.

The POCD is a guide for conservation and zoning regulations in the town. Every town board and commission is represented in the formation of the document.