Developer wins economic commission’s support

Revised Wilton Heights rendering from Wilton Heights LLC.
Revised Wilton Heights rendering from Wilton Heights LLC.

Developer Paxton Kinol of the proposed Wilton Heights retail and apartments project at the intersection of Routes 7 and 33 appealed to the Economic Development Commission Sept. 19 for its support.

Kinol told the commissioners he was worried about how things would go at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Sept. 24 on his proposal. He talked more than an hour about how his project will open a gateway to Wilton Center and help drive more traffic to the area for stores and restaurants.

He talked about how he is taking a property that has mostly been an eyesore for the past 20 years and turning it into a good tax revenue generator, of about $600,000 a year, with no impact on local schools because most of the people who would rent the two-bedroom apartments for $3,000 to $4,500 a month are expected to be 55 and older.

The 74 units of apartments over two buildings won’t be deed restricted to 55 and older, though.

“I’m asking you to support me by speaking at the meeting,” Kinol told the commissioners.

They gave him what he wanted, essentially. In a consensus, they agreed to read a letter of support for the project at the meeting and submit the letter into the record that night.

Melissa Jean Rotini, a member of the commission, wrote a draft of the letter during the meeting and by the end of the meeting, which lasted until 10 p.m., they had a working copy to present.

The letter says the project has the potential to contribute significant economic benefit to the town as well as offering a transition to the town center.

“The Town has long recognized the lack of connectivity and exposure of Town Center to Route 7. The potential solutions to people driving past, rather than driving or walking through Wilton, are few. This project would create the opportunity for those traveling along Route 7 to stop and see Wilton. Further, the proposed traffic calming devices, safety, and travel improvements on Route 7 and leading into Town Center that are included in this project suggest a good faith effort to improve the Town and should operate to direct people to the Town Center,” the letter says.

Kinol showed commissioners the latest architectural renderings of what his project will look like, including one building in Federal style and one in 1800s industrial style. Both styles reflect buildings actually found in the area.
Affordable housing
He also explained why his project has no affordable housing units. Having them would crimp the profitability of the project, and at only eight units based on a 10% requirement, would hardly satisfy the town’s need for affordable apartments. Rather, he suggested to the commissioners, as he did to the Planning and Zoning Commission recently, that the town use town-owned or town-controlled land to collaborate with a developer on building a substantial number of affordable units, away from the downtown area. He suggested Cannondale.

Kinol’s application is for a change of zone from R-1A to Wilton Center District for properties at 3, 7 and 11 Whitewood Lane, and additional properties on Whitewood Lane. The application also seeks to amend text on regulations for area and bulk requirements for the Wilton Center District.

Wilton Heights LLC, wants to tear down five existing buildings and replace them with two buildings that would consist of retail space and residential units within a wetland.

Wilton Heights LLC is a partnership of individuals from Fairfield County that filed plans May 9 with the planning and zoning department for 74 residential units and 15 retail units on the 7.4-acre site. With a downtown-type design, two buildings would house apartments above retail within 1,000 feet of the Wilton train station.