First draft of Wilton planning document is released

As expected, the Planning and Zoning Commission on Sept. 26 received its first draft of the new Plan of Conservation and Development.

It was the result of months of work, including public workshops in which residents gave their views on everything from housing needs to conservation.

The consultants for the POCD, Milone and MacBroom, made it clear there is a lot of input left to go before the plan reaches its finished product stage next February.

“What they were doing is taking a vast amount of information, along with questionnaires for public input, and synthesized that into a draft, bullet-point document trying to list many of the pressing issues in the community based upon the past meetings and discussions,” said Robert Nerney, the town’s planning director, following the meeting at the town hall annex.

The commissioners went through the bullet points lists to see how much of it appears complete, and to begin to develop consensus about order and priority.

“I think it went well,” Nerney said.

The commissioners want to continue the discussions, and will do so in special sessions that will precede their regular meetings every other Monday.

Also, the entire workshop group that includes representatives of various town boards including the Economic Development Commission, will convene again, possibly in November, to discuss the plan.

“They want to get their comments back and set a time for completion,” Nerney said.

Another important element of the POCD that will be implemented later this fall or during the winter is the scientific telephone survey.

“The survey will further gauge the community pulse on pressing issues,” Nerney said.
What it says
Among the statements of fact made in the POCD draft is that Wilton is mostly a community of families with school-age children, but there is a rapidly expanding senior population.

Wilton’s median age is 42.8 years, which is younger than most of its peer towns in Fairfield County. As of 2015, 86% of housing units were owner-occupied, and 85% of housing units were detached, single-family residences.

An analysis of home sales conducted by the Wilton Public Schools showed that for each home sale, 0.6 students are enrolled in the public schools.

A Housing Analytical Survey conducted by the Economic Development Commission in 2016 noted that buyers most frequently move to Wilton for its excellent school system and sellers most frequently leave Wilton due to being empty nesters with grown children and a desire to downsize.

Home values are still well below their mid-2000s levels, before the recession, and many residents are remaining in their homes until housing market conditions improve and their home equity rebounds, the report indicates.

The lack of smaller units in Wilton for empty nesters to move into may discourage them from selling or force them to move to a smaller unit elsewhere, according to the draft.