Wilton Cannon Road plan gets a hearing
WILTON — The Wilton Planning & Zoning Commission began hearing the merits of the latest proposal for a new housing development along Cannon Road — this one being considerably more modest than its predecessors. But that did not diminish public comment on the plan.
The public hearing began Feb. 10 and took up the lion’s share of the commission’s bimonthly scheduled meeting. The most recent proposal to develop the 55-acre parcel was for an eight-unit subdivision, which was submitted in 2018 and was ultimately denied.
The current proposal calls for the construction of five private homes, four of which will front a private driveway with the fifth facing Cannon Road. The developer is Cannonwoods, LLC, whose owner is Wilton resident Dominick Polito.
At the hearing, the developer was represented by Liz Suchy, an attorney with the Stamford law firm Carmody, Torrance, Sandak and Hennessey. Suchy was joined in her presentation by Tom Quinn, principal of Peak Engineers LLC of Redding, and Kate Throckmorton, a landscape architect and principal at Environmental Land Solutions of Norwalk.
Suchy began her presentation by pointing out that Cannon Road is zoned R-2A, requiring a minimum of two acres for the construction of a home. All five of the proposed homes will sit on lots at least that big, she pointed out, and three of them will be in excess of three acres. The proposed development also meets street-frontage requirements as well as the 12 percent set-aside for open space.
In addition, the developer proposes to preserve or improve most of the existing stone walls on the parcel, and to minimize tree removal. “Seven acres of open space will be maintained in perpetuity, and it [the development] is adjacent to town conservation lands,” Suchy said.
Suchy pointed out there is a sixth parcel consisting of 39 acres that is not currently proposed as a building lot. “Should there be any proposal in the future to develop that lot, to subdivide it or the like, the applicant will be required to return to this board and required to return to the inland wetlands agency,” she said. “But right now it is to remain vacant.”
Quinn said the town’s health department has given the subdivision plan its green light, mainly upon review of the septic systems for the five residences. “We did extensive septic testing over the last two years [at each homesite] and found the most suitable sites for septic areas,” said Quinn.
Quinn also pointed out that his firm measured how the subdivision’s proposed stormwater and drainage system would perform, using two-, 10- and 25-year storm models, with the 25-year storm model the severest. Stormwater-mitigation systems include swales that will run along both sides of the common driveway and a retention pond in the easterly portion of the development.
“The town requires zero increase in runoff from a new development,” he said, resulting in an OK from Inland Wetlands, the town engineer and an independent, peer-review engineer. In addition, the two proposed driveways (the common driveway and the one for the house on Cannon Road) both meet 100-foot minimum-sight-line rules.
Suchy noted that the town’s fire and public works departments are still reviewing the subdivision plans. “We anticipate positive responses shortly,” she said.
Michael Wrinn, Wilton’s new town planner, pointed out that the bar is set intentionally high for proposed subdivisions to be denied by town commissions. “If you end up meeting the requirements — you’ve got the frontage, you’ve got the acreage, you’ve got a lot configuration that complies with standards, you’re pretty hard pressed not to come up with some conditions of approval in order to approve that [the application],” he said.
Commissioner Florence Johnson had a question about tree preservation. “A significant portion of several lots are wetlands … where are they [residents] supposed to preserve the trees,” she said. “When people move into a property is that something that is in the deed, that can be required?”
“Different requirements for maintaining vegetation will stay with the deed of each property,” said Throckmorton.
Patricia Frisch, an attorney who lives on Ridgefield Road, wanted to know how the placement of the development’s open space was determined. In her query she indicated she represented a family that lives adjacent to the proposed development.
“I’m generally favorable to this,” said neighbor Barbara Geddis Wooten, who lives on Cannon Road. Still, she said the curb cuts for the two driveways seemed too close, and the circle at the end of the private driveway seemed “awfully small.” She also described proposed Lot 2 as “the little runt” among what are otherwise nice lots.
Fellow Cannon Road resident Sara Curtis noted that an existing stone wall seemed missing from one of the lot plans. And Peter Gaboriault, president of the Wilton Land Conservation Trust, said the applicant was being “a little less than forthcoming” about future development plans. “This is really one of a two-phase development,” he said. “They’re not going to landlock it [the 39-acre sixth parcel] and give up all that acreage.”
In response to the open-space questions, Suchy said developers are required to set aside 12 percent of the existing acreage. “There is no obligation by the applicant that it have any other benefit other than that it is there… and we’ve done that,” she said. “And my client will be more than willing to talk with the Wilton land trust.”
Nothing else is “afoot,” she added, noting that Wilton’s town attorney OK’d the classification of the excess 39 acres as an undeveloped parcel.
Additionally, Lot 2 encompasses 3.3 acres and as such, hardly represents “the runt of the litter,” she said. Part of its stone wall was indeed removed, but the stones will be reused elsewhere in the development.
Quinn noted there is no regulation requiring private drives to end in a circle. “It is a 50 foot wide easement… you can turn around in a nice-sized vehicle,” he said.
Ultimately, the commission continued the hearing on Cannonwoods to the Feb. 24 meeting.
Among other business, the commission accepted a new application for an accessory dwelling unit at 18 Surrey Glen. This would consist of adding a full bathroom to an existing accessory building at that property.
The Feb. 24 meeting will also include a public hearing on the 200 Danbury Road project. The commission also set a public hearing date for March 9 for a proposed development at 3 Hubbard Road. The developer wants to build a 17-unit apartment building at that site.