Wilton Heights and Millstone hearings continued

The Planning and Zoning Commission’s public hearings on applications submitted by Wilton Heights, LLC and Millstone Farm Holdings, LLC were discussed during the commission’s Jan. 14 meeting and continued to Monday, Jan. 28.

Wilton Heights, LLC

Wilton Heights, LLC’s special permit application to redevelop properties at 300 Danbury Road and several on Whitewood Lane with mixed-use buildings consisting of retail space and residential units had been continued from Dec. 10, so the Inland Wetlands Commission could finish reviewing the applicant’s pending application.

The Inland Wetlands Commission completed that review on Dec. 13, said the applicant’s attorney, J. Casey Healy, and a permit was issued that same evening.

Since Dec. 10, Healy said, the applicant has also submitted several items to the commission, including — but not limited to — a traffic engineering review letter from planning consultants Frederick P. Clark Associates, a revised draft of stormwater management plan, and a letter from Triton Environmental regarding the removal of contaminated soil from the site.

Modifications have also been made to the building plans at the request of the Inland Wetlands Commission, said Healy, and a list with cost estimates for the applicant’s proposed off-site improvements was submitted.

During the Jan. 14 public hearing, plans to relocate the 19th-Century Comstock Corn Crib and find a group interested in preserving the 18th-Century Betts-Comstock House at 300 Danbury Road were confirmed.

Two traffic studies were also presented during the hearing — one by Mike Galante of Frederick P. Clark Associates, and the other by David Spear of DLS Traffic Engineering Services.

Millstone Farm Holdings, LLC

Millstone Property Holdings, LLC’s application to create a regulatory change to Wilton’s zoning regulations was continued in order to give Planning and Zoning commissioners and members of the public time to review a revised proposed text amendment that was not included with the Planning and Zoning Commission’s Jan. 14 meeting agenda.

Since the public didn’t have the revised text, Healy told the commission, the hearing needed to be continued.

“We’re hoping that if they review it, they’ll find that some of the changes address some of their concerns,” he said.

Under the name “Millstone Property Holdings, LLC,” Millstone Farm owners Volckert and Eliane van Reesema are seeking to amend several sections of the zoning regulations to establish regulatory provisions for “agritourism” as a special permitted use in single-family residential districts and allow offices accessory to a farm or riding stable as a permitted accessory use.

Revisions to the proposed text amendment include several requirements for farms wishing to apply for agritourism. For example, a farm must be at least 28 acres and have at least three years of operating as a farm, said Healy. Under the revised proposed text amendment, an applicant would also be required to provide a management plan for an agritourism.

To “provide certain standards,” Healy said, the applicant also modified and added a list of acceptable agritourism events and activities that could be undertaken on a property.

“We drafted it a little more tightly and not as broadly as [originally proposed],” said Healy.

When commissioner Basam Nabulsi said he thought the applicant should focus on activities that have to do more specifically with farms instead of commercial activities like weddings, several members of the public nodded their heads and quietly expressed agreement.

David Schiff, senior practice builder with Kimley-Horn, said the revisions were made to provide a “better understanding of what the intent of [proposed zoning regulation change] would be” and to “provide limitations” in the proposed text amendment that address some of the concerns expressed by the commission and members of the public.

For example, Schiff said, there could be no more than 150 people at a single event, no loud music after 10 p.m., and events must end no later than 11 p.m.

Schiff said “additional language” pertaining to lighting was also added, and the revised text makes clear that accessory office are OK, but “outside offices on [a] site” are prohibited.

Even with the modifications to the text, Lawrence said, he’s “not comfortable with the level of activity” that would be allowed under agritourism.

Although he was absent from the Dec. 10 public hearing, Lawrence said he watched the meeting where residents shared their thoughts on the application, as well as events that have been taking place at Millstone Farm.

A number of residents at the hearing complained about loud, late-night weddings at the farm, excessive traffic, and being “run off the road” by vehicles going to or from the farm. Some expressed concerns about opening the farm up to corporate events, weddings, and overnight stays.

Lawrence said he sympathizes with their concerns and thinks “a gradual approach — one that starts very limited … is best.”

“I think this still has a larger discussion to go as far as what applies, how does this really affect places that could apply, [and so on],” he said.

The Planning and Zoning Commission’s meeting on Monday, Jan. 28, will take place in Room A of the town hall annex, beginning at 7:15 p.m.