Wilton P&Z positively reviews proposals ahead of final vote

A rendering of the CT Humane Society regional headquarters proposed in Wilton.

A rendering of the CT Humane Society regional headquarters proposed in Wilton.

Connecticut Humane Society / Contributed photo

WILTON — The current Planning and Zoning Commission members mostly agreed Monday in their support for two major projects that have gone through many pre-application reviews and public hearings with varying levels of resident pushback.

A 173-unit apartment complex proposed at 141 Danbury Road and a new regional headquarters for the Connecticut Humane Society at 863-875 Danbury Road have been discussed at length with the commission and commented on by the public. In fact, a possible vote was postponed due to a lengthy public hearing session on the Human Society proposal earlier this month where numerous residents cited noise concerns from dogs barking and fears of enhanced traffic.

While there was no official vote Monday, developers may see the commissioner’s words as a barometer for how they will vote at a special meeting on Nov. 29.

That session will be the last of this iteration of the Planning and Zoning Commission, something that Chairman Rick Tomasetti noted was important as the commissioners understand the full gamut of each project and their intricate details. He said he would like to avoid newly seated commissioners to have to dive into “the depth of testimony” that has been presented.

The commission first had to approve a text amendment and then zone change for the apartment complex at 141 Danbury Road Monday. During a discussion period, some commissioners did voice desires for a change to the latest plan.

Commissioner Jill Warren said she would have liked to see the affordable housing split jump to at least 15 percent from the current 10, to which Commissioner Doris Knapp agreed. A focus on affordable housing options is a focus set in the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development, adopted in 2019.

Multiple commissioners discussed the preference of including permeable pavement to allow for better runoff control. The developers for 141 Danbury Road did present the option of permeable pavement, as Tomasetti pointed out, and Town Planner Michael Wrinn said that the commission could push for that at any point.

After making just one amendment to the text, the zone change was unanimously agreed upon.

As for the site plan as a whole, each commissioner was happy with the process and lauded the development team for listening to their concerns and addressing them.

“I think this is a good move forward for our town,” said Commissioner Eric Fanwick. He and fellow P&Z member Matthew Murphy said that it was the right location for the complex.

Commissioner Florence Johnson did add that she would be in favor of a possible traffic light placed at the nearby intersection on Danbury Road, albeit acknowledging that decision would have to come from the state. She did admit that the positive report from a third-party traffic study contractor suffices to quell her concern.

This is a good example of “how we could work together” with a developer to “get things done” in Wilton, Vice Chair Melissa-Jean Rotini said.

Moving on from their support of the apartment complex, the commissioners voiced little concern with the site plans for the CT Humane Society proposed for a section of Danbury Road located closer to the northern border of town.

A number of commissioners felt that the development team did a satisfactory job addressing the noise concerns of neighbors who were weary of dogs on-site barking during the daytime.

Senior acoustic and audio consultant Kevin Peterson, who has been working with the proposal team, said at the public hearing that the limit of 80 decibels at each line of the property would not be met, as the readings conducted in his study were in the mid 50s.

Knapp asked if construction hours on weekdays, which run from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., could reflect the Saturday construction hours of 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. While Johnson raised similar concerns, the majority of commissioners pointed out that these hours are set construction hours for any project in town, not just for this proposal. Rotini said she preferred to avoid a spot-zoning change just for this proposal based on construction hours.

“I really think this is an application that makes a lot of sense,” Tomasetti said of the Humane Society proposal.

Each project has received peer review by multiple town bodies in the leadup to the P&Z decision, which is the final step for developers as it relates to town approval.