Healy seeks to amend zoning regulations for parking

Casey Healy, attorney with Gregory & Adams, has applied to amend section 29-7.E.6 of the town zoning regulations, which dictates a maximum building coverage of 20% for industrial zones. A public hearing for his application was opened at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on July 27.
Building coverage is the percentage of a lot that can be occupied by a building.
Healy is seeking to add 3.5% to the current maximum, applicable only to parking garages and other types of parking structures, in response to a downward trend in space per employee.
When asked why he was filing the application in his name, Healy told The Bulletin in an email, “An application to amend the Zoning Regulations must be filed by an ‘owner of property’ within the Town of Wilton … and; therefore, it is often easier to file the application in my name.”
“More employees are being squeezed into the workplace,” said David Schiff, planner with VHB, a team of engineering consultants, who summarized a memorandum that explained how the proposed amendment complies with the town plan of conservation and development.
“The result has been that, in the trend whereas 250 square feet per employee (office and parking) was typical, now, the industry seems to be more around 175, 185 square feet per employee, and in some places much less than that,” he said. “That’s at least a 30% decrease.”
Healy said there would be four criteria for pursuing coverage increase under the proposed amendment:

  • DE-5 and DE-10 (designed enterprise district) lots would have to be a minimum of five and 10 acres, respectively.

  • The increase in coverage would be applicable only to parking garages and parking structures.

  • Applicants for the increase would have to demonstrate that off-street parking requirements can be or have been met without exceeding the maximum 20%.

  • The additional coverage could only be used to yield one additional parking space per 1,000 square feet of gross floor area.

Commissioner Bas Nabulsi asked for clarification on one of the criteria laid out by Healy.
“So ... the applicant would potentially come in and demonstrate with a plan that they are able to meet the parking requirement without requesting the 3.5% additional coverage as required by the zoning regs,” he said. “Then they can suggest to the commission that they’d like to avail themselves of that extra 3.5%, up to 3.5%, at the discretion of the commission, for parking purposes, correct?”
“Correct,” said Healy.
“It’s almost, in a way, like doing a yield analysis that’s done residentially,” Schiff said. “Prove that you can make it work, and now that you’ve proved that you can make it work, you can go to the extra.”
Commissioner Franklin Wong wanted to know more about the purpose of the increase.
“What’s driving this seems to be ... that there is an inadequacy of parking,” he said.
“Right now, property owners could put in more parking,” Schiff said. “They’re not prohibited by your ordinance to put in more parking; what they’re finding is they’re bumping up against the coverage when they try to put in more parking.”
Healy also offered a simpler alternate proposal of extending the building coverage maximum to 25% for both the DE-5 and DE-10 zones without the applicant having to adhere to any of the four aforementioned criteria.
The commission was inclined to accept the alternate proposal more so than the original due to its simplicity.
Healy agreed to keep the subject application open until the next meeting on Sept. 15 so the commission would have more time to review both options.