Commission denies AROD moratorium

Some of the 70 residents in attendance at the Planning and Zoning Commission’s Nov. 27 meeting howled with rage when the commission denied a moratorium against age-restricted overlay districts (AROD) and other special districts proposed by Ridgefield Road resident and attorney Patricia Frisch.

With shouts of “shame on you,” the public was also angry that the commission postponed a public hearing on the 183 Ridgefield Road application seeking regulations for an AROD to Dec. 11.

“Shame on the public for not following the procedures,” answered Chairman Joseph Fiteni.

Frisch, who was seeking the moratorium in hope of blocking the creation of a new AROD like the one rescinded by the commission in July, walked out of the meeting in disgust after Fiteni called a recess, apparently in an attempt to calm the crowd.

“I’m very angry at the moment,” Frisch said in the library’s hallway.

Frisch said it appeared that the commissioners already knew how they would vote, and that they were deliberately extending the public hearing for the AROD to the next meeting so that it would be decided by a commission with some newly elected members.

Frisch said she did not know what she will do next. She was also angry that the resolution of denial, as read by Fiteni, did not reflect the talking points individual commissioners had discussed as their reasons for being for or against the proposal.

“They ram-rodded it,” she said.

Another resident shared her view. Kelly Morron said she immediately made a Freedom of Information request to the Planning and Zoning Department for all records of the background that went into the resolution of denial, because it did not match what she heard from the meeting.

“I attended yesterday’s P& Z Commission meeting, and was frustrated by the way in which the Commission handled the vote on Ms. Frisch’s application for a moratorium,” Morron said the next day.

Those in favor of the Frisch proposal were Andrea Preston, Peter Shiue and Tierney O’Hearn. All the other commissioners — excluding Melissa Jean-Rotini, who recused herself from the discussion and vote — voted to deny it.

In their memoranda of denial, the commissioners said the requested moratorium is unwarranted and unnecessary as the commission — through its legislative capacity — maintains considerable discretion in deciding the appropriateness of when, where and how to amend its zoning regulations or zoning map

There were two previous attempts at establishing a moratorium against the AROD. After six weeks off for the summer, the planning commission returned to action on Sept. 11, and on the advice of Town Counsel Ira Bloom, unanimously denied attorney Christopher Russo’s call from July 31 for a moratorium against age-restricted housing applications on Ridgefield Road.

Russo, acting on behalf of his client, Ridgefield Road resident Vicki Mavis, told the commission at a July meeting that the moratorium should be in place until the commission formally approves a new Plan of Conservation and Development — a once-per-every-10-years task that will be coming up soon.

“It has no applicability, because the regulation has been rescinded,” Bloom told the commissioners, and they said the same in their motion of denial to Russo’s request.

The age-restricted zoning regulation was rescinded over the summer.

AROD on Ridgefield Road has been one of the hottest zoning issues in Wilton this year. Meetings have typically packed more than 100 people each time. Russo and Mavis twice made their pitch for a moratorium. The first time, earlier this year, was when the town had an age-restricted zoning overlay district regulation in place. That regulation was rescinded because of a flaw in the legal notice that advertised it.