Bloom recommends planning commission rescind AROD vote

Town Counsel  Ira Bloom shocked nearly 100 residents and neighbors of Ridgefield Road who have fought an Age-Restricted Overlay District there, when he called upon the Planning and Zoning Commission during a public hearing June 12 at Wilton Library to rescind the vote.

The problem is that the Supreme Court decided on a similar case some years ago, with exactly the same facts, and ruled that the vote was illegal and void.

That is because the effective date of the AROD and the publication date about it were exactly the same, Bloom told the commissioners. They should have been some time apart.

So commissioners followed his advice and decided to take up the matter of possibly rescinding their regulation at their next meeting, June 26.

Also on June 26, Chris Russo, attorney for resident Vicki Mavis, who filed a lawsuit to fight the overlay zone and get a moratorium against future applications, will continue his public hearing.

Mavis expressed delight with the turn of events after the session at the Brubeck Room. 

“It was particularly uplifting to hear, after all this time,” Mavis said. The public hearing June 12 was the third in a series that had drawn a crowd of 100 or more.

The next step is that the developer who is asking for a zone change to build age-restricted units off the historic road must likely withdraw his application, because Bloom said if it were to go to court it would surely fail, based on the Supreme Court decision.

The subject is easily the most controversial zoning application so far this year before the Planning and Zoning Commission. Residents of Ridgefield Road, which is a state-designated scenic road replete with Revolutionary War-era houses and landmarks, have expressed frustration that they were not kept in the loop in the early stages of planning for the AROD, which allows age-restricted housing to be built on otherwise residentially zoned Ridgefield Road, Westport Road and Danbury Road as well as side roads within 750 feet of those major arteries.

The shocking turnabout came about over the weekend after The Bulletin reported June 8 that a status conference has been scheduled in superior court in Stamford regarding a request for a temporary injunction to halt implementing such district. The conference is set for July 10, the same day the Planning and Zoning Commission has a hearing scheduled to consider a request to change the zoning for 183 Ridgefield Road from R2A to age-restricted housing.

The injunction was requested by Ridgefield Road resident Patricia L. Frisch, who filed a civil lawsuit June 6 against the town of Wilton, the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Planning and Zoning Department, town planner Robert Nerney and Town Clerk Lori Kaback.

In her complaint, Frisch contends the legal notice published on Nov. 3, 2016, and Nov. 10, 2016, in The Bulletin, advertising a Nov. 14  public hearing on the age-restricted zoning amendments under consideration by the Planning and Zoning Commission, did “not identify the potential areas to be affected should the proposed amendments pass to any degree whatsoever.” 

The complaint also states a legal notice published in The Bulletin on Nov. 17, 2016, indicates the amendment was approved and would go into effect on Nov. 17. This was insufficient, according to the complaint, because it was not published before the effective date and it did not identify Westport, Danbury, and Ridgefield roads as areas that would potentially be affected by the commission’s action. Thus, it denied the plaintiff the opportunity to appeal the decision.