Wilton selectmen OK affordable housing feasibility study

WILTON — The Board of Selectmen agreed to move forward with an architectural study for two town-owned properties — 872 Danbury Road and 31 New St. — about whether they could be new sites for multiple affordable housing units.

The single-family home on Danbury Road was once rented by a town employee for 35 years. That employee has now retired, and no longer lives in the home. The house sits on 1.3 acres, with an abutting property with another single-family home rented by the town on 2.3 acres. The other piece of land on New Street is vacant.

“So we had a contractor come in and give us a general estimate, as this would go out for bids,” First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said at Monday’s meeting, adding that it would take an estimated $40,000 to $50,000 in renovations to bring the houses up to a standard worthy to lease. “ ... We have been having conversations about whether the best use of this almost four acres is two single-family homes that the town leases out. Or is there an opportunity for the town to do something else here that might open up housing opportunities for more than just two rental individuals.”

Town Planner Michael Wrinn said the town is looking into the possibility of having affordable housing units built on the property. Although any prospective development would not “add tremendous bulk to the area,” according to Wrinn, it will bring a diversity of housing opportunities to a town that is consistently looking to add affordable elements to new housing developments proposed regularly to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

A pair of issues that the town may run into, according to Wrinn, is the lack of elevation grading uniformity and the question of septic for shared units.

Wrinn said it is “well worth” having a consultant come in to take a look at the septic situation.

As of Monday, there was no estimate as to how many units could fit on the properties. Wrinn said that would be up to the architect conducting the study.

“The architect may come back and say that we need a blend of restricted affordable and open market (units),” Vanderslice said. “But what we would want now is a motion to authorize Michael and I to move forward with an RFQ.”

Selectwoman Lori Bufano said this is an opportunity that the town should not let pass up.

“If we are truly looking to engage ourselves in providing affordable housing,” Wrinn said, “this might be a good opportunity for it.”