Many residents support Wilton Heights at hearing

Within days after First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice urged Wiltonians to support development projects, a standing-room only crowd of residents during a Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing June 25 voiced mostly support for a proposal to build a two-building, residential-retail development at the Crossways property at the intersection of Routes 7 and 33.

The applicant Wilton Heights LLC is seeking a change of zone for property at 3, 7, and 11 Whitewood Lane from Residential (R-1A) to Wilton Center (WC) District. The applicant also asked for text amendments pertaining to area and bulk requirements for the Wilton Center District. The hearing will continue July 9.

Attorney Casey Healey, representing the developer, and consultants for the project characterized it as an attractive blend of retail and apartments that will help put the town center on the map and draw customers from the heavy traffic on Route 7. They noted the property has sat mostly vacant for 20 years because it was not financially viable under current zoning.

The supporters in the crowd of 50 or so people far outnumbered the opponents, who appeared often to be immediate neighbors of the property.

“I support the project. It’s one step of the way we need to go,” said resident Tom Fastiggi. “I think it’s a unique opportunity because of the amount of traffic that never sees downtown.”

“I feel the pain of the downtown merchants,” said resident and Realtor Peg Koellmer, supporting the project. “There is a real possibility here to make everyone happy.” Failing to support the project could resident in the town ending up with something much worse, she said.

“I support this,” said resident Moses Alexander. “It’s important for the town to be open to zoning changes that make properties economically viable. That’s the direction we need to be going.”

Resident Jeff Katlan was for it, and presented a petition with 75 signatures supporting the project.

Resident Anthony Bocaditi was one of those against it. “They’re asking for a pig in a poke,” he said, asking for legislative changes that affect Wilton Center.

“It’s not a high density area,” said another resident opposed, whose name was not audible.

The Planning and Zoning Commission public hearings are not the only ones to come. The property where the development would take place includes a wetland. It will be heard at the Inland Wetlands commission Thursday, June 28.

Wilton Heights LLC, is a partnership of individuals from Fairfield County, that filed plans May 9 with Planning and Zoning 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.

Paxton Kinol, a spokesperson for Wilton Heights LLC, has said he expects that the two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments, to be built as rental units, would appeal to both millennials and empty nesters based on what he has seen happening in Norwalk.

The second floor above the retail space would be one-floor apartments. Above them would be the same apartment layout but with stairs to an attic loft above the kitchen with access to a rooftop balcony.

Except for 22 apartments that would face Route 7, the rest would be hidden from view, he said.