Towns seek improved rail lines

Improvements to transportation — particularly the Danbury and New Canaan branch rail lines — are at the top of the region’s legislative priorities for 2015, according to the new Western Connecticut Council of Governments.

Mayors and first selectmen of the council’s 18 municipal members, of which Wilton is one, met in Ridgefield Dec. 11. Addressing their state legislators, the region’s chief elected officials presented actions the General Assembly could take to improve transportation and allow municipalities to function better.

They brought up two studies sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Transportation that  recommended upgrades to the branch lines of Metro-North that would allow faster and more frequent service. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said a growing contingent of Danbury commuters travel by rail to jobs in Norwalk and Stamford.

An affordable housing appeals procedure used by developers to supersede local zoning regulations was also of concern. Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson suggested “predator developers” were abusing the appeals procedure known as “8-30g,” and that most of them had no real interest in producing affordable housing. In its place, she suggested the General Assembly provide incentives to towns to support affordable housing production.

New stormwater regulations proposed by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) are of concern to town officials because they would require the purchase of new equipment and hiring of new staff. The regulations would require increased sweeping of public roads, cleaning of catch basins, and leaf collection.