The age of the age-restricted development

A letter from Gregory and Adams attorney Casey Healy asking for passage of age-restricted housing development regulations has gotten a positive response from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“Attorney Healy represents a number of developers in town who have expressed an interest in age-restricted housing,” said Town Planner Bob Nerney at the commission’s April 25 meeting.

“Regulations of this nature have been created in other, surrounding communities — Darien, for instance, and Ridgefield,” he said. “Ridgefield’s actually been very positive.”

“These communities have recognized that a segment of their population has very unique interests,” Nerney said.

Restricting housing developments and subcommunities by age cohort creates desirability for certain demographics, such as seniors, who enjoy proximity of amenities and do not add to the school population.

“Typically their needs are different than the younger generation,” Nerney said. “They’re looking for smaller homes. They’re looking for places that might have amenity buildings such as a pool, or uses that are oriented more toward seniors.”

According to the town planner, because of this, age-restricted housing is in high demand.

That’s true “not only in surrounding communities but even here in Wilton,” he said. As an example, he pointed to the River Ridge development on River Road.

“Although it’s not an age-restricted community, it’s populated largely by empty nesters, and it sold out almost immediately,” Nerney said. The prices for those homes were more than $1 million.

While the demand is there, an added plus, according to Nerney, is that age-restricted developments “tend to be revenue-positive. Or at least that’s what the findings of other communities are,” he said.

Cost is another factor.

“Many people in Wilton are forced to relocate,” Nerney said. “They choose to downsize to other surrounding communities, or Florida, or other places.”

In closing, Nerney said, “I think attorney Healy makes a good point. If you would like me to poke around at this, look at other communities, maybe put together some recommendations for this future discussion, I’d be happy to do so,” he said.

Several commissioners had things to say. Franklin Wong asked about zoning.

“Is this contemplated as a different zone? Or is it kind of like an overlay, like we have with the affordable housing?” he asked.

“That’s a good question,” Nerney replied. “You can do it either way. My thought, initially, would be to regulate it through a special permit process, as an overlay, versus a separate zone.”

Doris Knapp asked, “Will these developments have to be connected to public water, and public sewer?” Nerney answered yes.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Sally Poundstone asked the staff to compile a brief report on the matter to be presented at the commission’s next regular meeting, on May 9.

“It seems to me that the need [for age-restricted housing developments], I think we would all agree, is with us, daily, in this community, and I would like to see this proceed,” Poundstone said.