Wilton architecture, design boards to become full-time governing body

Photo of J.D. Freda
Michael Wrinn

Michael Wrinn

Richard Bonenfant / Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — The town’s Architectural Review Board and Village District Design Advisory Committee were originally set to disband in November. But after reconsideration by the Planning and Zoning Commission, Town Planner Michael Wrinn announced last week that the six-person governing bodies will operate as a single full-time entity and its members will serve terms.

Wrinn told the Board of Selectmen that the town will be nixing the previously agreed upon “sunset provision,” or statute that sets a date that an agency, entity, law or group expires. Prior to this year, the ARB and Village Design Advisory Committee were subject to that statute and both would have dissolved on Nov. 5.

“The (P&Z Commission) has made it a permanent part of their zoning regulations,” Wrinn said.

The town planner explained that is set to change, and the group would work year-round. Each member would serve typical two-year terms, as other municipal workers do, going forward.

Per the town’s regulations, official governing body members must be approved by the Board of Selectmen. The zoning commission plans to give its recommendations for membership, and the selectmen will then give final approval based on those suggestions.

Though the architecture and design groups will operate as a single governing body, responsibilities for members will vary. The Village District Design Advisory Committee portion is tasked with handling proposals within the village districts of Wilton Center and Cannondale.

Over the past few years, and especially since the coronavirus pandemic, there have been a number of development proposals that have come in to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

While several of those projects are outside of the village district and are handled by the ARB, the Village District Design Advisory Committee will continue to deal with those issues within the village district parameters. Recently, the ARB has supplemented the P&Z Commission during the pre-application process for multifamily housing development proposals along Danbury Road. The goal of the board is to ensure each project’s architectural plans are copacetic as the town likely increases its housing density over the next few years.

“The zoning commission has been happy with what they’ve done,” Wrinn said. “They’ve added much value to the process.”

This alleviates some responsibility from the P&Z, which can focus on the scope of a project and the effect it will have on the community and its residents, while the ARB can help dive into technical minutia of the proposal’s architecture and material choices.

The P&Z Commission will meet with the ARB on future expectations.

Until individuals are brought to the selectmen for recommendation by the zoning board, the current iteration will remain.

This story has been updated to reflect that the Architectural Review Board and Village District Design Advisory Committee will operate as a single governing body.