35 units for 183 Ridgefield Road?

The owner of 183 Ridgefield Road, site of the now-demolished Schlichting Homestead, has proposed a 35-unit age-restricted housing development for the 13.45-acre site. The issue is expected to be discussed at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Feb. 27.

McChord Engineering Associates prepared a project memorandum that was delivered to First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice, who is chairman of the town Water Pollution Control Authority, on Feb. 13. An accompanying letter from J. Casey Healy, written on behalf of 183 Ridgefield Road LLC, the property owner, seeks confirmation the town sewer line has the capacity to accept an average daily flow of 25,000 gallons from the development and adjacent properties.

The letter also requests the Water Pollution Control Authority approve extending the town sewer to serve the development and adjacent properties. A plan submitted with the letter shows the sewer line being extended from the area of Lovers Lane.

This request requires a referral to the Planning and Zoning Commission, which Vanderslice sent on Feb. 14, and that would be the focus of discussion at next week’s meeting.

The project memo sent by Holt W. McChord, P.E., indicates the project would include 35 three-bedroom units. According to a zoning map on the town website, the property appears to be in an R-2A (two-acre residential) zone.

However, the Planning and Zoning Commission created new zoning regulations for age-restricted housing — for those 55 and older — at its meeting on Nov. 14, 2016. The new regulations would allow such communities to be built in an R2A zone on property that fronts Danbury Road, Westport Road or Ridgefield Road. They may be built on lots of no less than three acres and no more than 25 acres. Such developments must receive a special permit and site-plan approval.

The regulations specify at least one resident of each unit must be 55 or older and no one under 21 will be allowed to live in a unit for more than three months in any given year.

A letter to the Planning and Zoning Commission from Healy, an attorney with Gregory and Adams who represents a number of developers, got the ball rolling on age-restricted housing regulations back in April of 2016.
Schlichting Homestead
The property at 183 Ridgefield Road was the site of a 19th-Century Victorian Italianate-style villa known as the Schlichting Homestead for the family that lived there for more than a century. It was one of only three of that type of house still standing in Wilton before it was razed in March 2016.

The property, which is next to Hillside Cemetery, was sold by Dave Schlichting to developer James A. Fieber of New Canaan on Aug. 20, 2015. Schlichting told The Bulletin at the time he was under the impression the developer would restore the house and a barn. But there was nothing in writing and a legal notice appeared in The Bulletin on Sept. 24, 2015, announcing the developer’s intention to demolish the house.

The Wilton Historic District Commission convened a special meeting and public forum and voted unanimously two weeks later to delay the demolition for 90 days. Community members banded together in an attempt to save the home that was built in the mid-1850s by William A. Sturges and an online petition garnered about 500 signatures.

The developer, 183 Ridgefield Road LLC, submitted an application for a four-lot subdivision on the property that was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission on Feb. 22, 2016, shortly before it was demolished.