Taller buildings for Route 7?

At its meeting on Monday, Jan. 28, the Planning and Zoning Commission will open a public hearing to consider whether to allow the building height in the Design Retail Business Zone on Route 7 to be increased from two stories to three. That would allow buildings to be constructed 40 feet tall, beyond the current 35 feet allowable, and up to 48 feet to the highest ridge for buildings with sloped roofs.

The application, filed by 200 Danbury Road, LLC, also seeks to increase the maximum floor area ratio from 0.25 to 0.35. Floor area ratio pertains to a building’s “bulk.” Under present regulations, a building on a two-acre site in this zone may have a maximum of 21,780 total square feet. Spread over two stories, that would be 10,890 per floor.

The proposed regulation of a floor area ratio of 0.35 would increase that to 30,492 total square feet, 10,164 square feet per floor over three floors. There could be different scenarios, Town Planner Bob Nerney said, such as a larger first floor and smaller second or third floor.

The requested changes pertain to sites in the Design Retail Business Zone that:

  • Encompass a minimum of two acres.

  • Have a minimum of frontage and width of 200 feet on Danbury Road (Route 7).

  • Are served by sewer and water.

The applicant, which is seeking to combine lots at 198 and 200 Danbury Road to achieve the two-acre minimum, says the zoning change could affect three other properties:

  • 14 Danbury Road — Gateway Shopping Center.

  • 190 Danbury Road — Devan Chevrolet.

  • 249 Danbury Road — Wilton Wellness Center.

The 0.70-acre property at 198 Danbury Road is the former Sheridan Interiors furniture store. It was purchased by 200 Danbury Road LLC for $1.05 million in March 2018. It purchased the 1.86-acre 200 Danbury Road for $1.2 million in September 2017. The seller was the Kent House. The co-owner of both properties, according to information on the town assessor’s website, is Patrick Downend, the developer who built the apartment complex at 31 Old Danbury Road.

No specific project for the combined site has been submitted to the commission.

According to information supplied by the applicant, these proposed changes would make specific properties better suited for development.

The information noted building coverage and site coverage restrictions would be unchanged at 20% and 80%. In addition, side- and rear-yard setbacks adjacent to residential districts would be unchanged at 60 feet for parking and loading and 85 feet for buildings.

Taller building heights are allowed in the Wilton Center District — three stories and 42 feet. The maximum floor area ratio is 0.50. The town allows single-family homes of two and one-half stories and a floor area ratio of 0.35 in residential districts, although the coverage allowances are less, Nerney said.

Although the changes have been requested by a specific property owner, these changes, if approved, would not amount to spot zoning, Nerney told The Bulletin, because they would pertain to other properties as well.

He did not wish to speak specifically on the project outside a public meeting, but said issues the commission will likely look at are the impact on adjoining neighborhoods and the streetscape in general.

The former Sheridan Interiors building at 198 Danbury Road is a Greek Revival home built in 1810 that is listed on the Wilton Historical Society’s Historic House Survey.

According to Wilton’s zoning regulations, the Design Retail Business District is intended to accommodate retail stores and service establishments primarily serving the regular needs of residents. There are several such districts throughout Wilton, including along Route 7 in Cannondale and in Georgetown. Most of those properties are smaller than two acres or are not on water and sewer lines.