New AROD moratorium hearing opens

The public hearing for a fresh call for a moratorium against Age-Restricted Overlay Districts (AROD) and other special districts opened Oct. 23 at the Clune Center for the Arts with the Planning and Zoning Commission in a heated three-hour session.

Resident Patricia L. Frisch, who is an attorney and represented her own case at the hearing, is seeking the moratorium, which she hopes would block the creation of a new AROD like the one that was rescinded by the Planning and Zoning Commission in July.

Since that time, attorneys for developer James Fieber have submitted a new application seeking regulations for an AROD. The public hearing for that application began Oct. 10 and will continue on the night of Nov. 13, at the Miller-Driscoll School multi-purpose room.

On Oct. 23, about 50 people attended the session at which Frisch spoke at length. About half a dozen people in the audience spoke in favor of the moratorium proposal, which would end on Sept. 30,  2018, giving the P&Z time to complete its 10-year update to the Plan of Conservation and Development.

Frisch outlined several reasons why the moratorium is a good idea and should be approved, including that it is limited in scope and duration for the best interests of the town.

“The moratorium is also reasonable because it affords the opportunity for the commission to consider economic concerns when it considers desirable changes to the land-use policy and zoning scheme guiding future development in Wilton,” Frisch said in prepared remarks, a copy of which she provided to The Bulletin. It may be read below.

However, Town Counsel Ira Bloom made it clear that even if approved, the moratorium would not apply to the existing application for an AROD that has already had its first public hearing. It came first, he said. It would only apply to future applications or subsequent applications, he said.

Frisch, interviewed after the hearing, said she understood it applied to subsequent applications and seemed satisfied with that, although she did not agree with Bloom’s assertion.

Leonard Braman, an attorney for developer James Fieber, said litigation would be the result if the moratorium is approved.

Most of the audience who spoke were in favor.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of residents who have written letters and emailed, to let you know we don’t want this,” said resident Sara Curtis, speaking of the proposed AROD on Ridgefield Road.

“I like the idea of waiting until the Plan of Conservation and Development is done,” said resident Jeff Thompson.

“I support the moratorium. It was well drafted,” said resident Robin Law.

A hot point in the hearing came when a resident accused Chairman Joseph Fiteni and Commissioner Doris Knapp of giggling during Frisch’s presentation. The Bulletin did not notice the alleged giggling. Fiteni snapped back that he would not have people accusing the commissioners of not doing their jobs and being in the pocket of developers.

Frisch’s hearing will be continued on Nov. 13 at Miller-Driscoll School.  

Presentation by Patricia Frisch at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting of Oct. 23, 2017