Wilton's Ambler Farm zoning hearing closes

The Planning and Zoning Commission closed the public hearing on a proposal to modify the special permit regulations for Ambler Farm at its meeting on Monday.
The property is owned by the town of Wilton and managed by Friends of Ambler Farm. Inc. The group wants to allow for-profit organizations to hold events such as weddings on the property.
Room A of the Town Hall Annex was filled with residents waiting to share their thoughts on the proposal. Currently the Conservation Commission is not in favor of the application.
The applicant’s attorney Douglas Bayer said he was surprised by the Conservation Commission’s stance.
“At least one of the commissioners expressed the view that he didn’t believe that what we were proposing had any impact on the land at all,” Bayer said.
Bayer said restrictions when it comes to noise, parking and lighting will remain unchanged. The restrictions were implemented in the original special permit granted in 2007.
“These were all the result of significant discussion by the commission,” Bayer said. “There was a significant amount of expert testimony before this commission in the prior approval.”
He said the applicant looks to be relieved of the restriction for the type of events allowed at the property. “The rationale is the type of event does not change the land use,” Bayer said.
Friends of Ambler Farm seeks to host up to 10 events per year with up to 120 attendees. Bayer said with restrictions in place the type of event should not change the land use.
Caroline Dunn said she was concerned with the number of events and increased noise as a result.
“You can hear it all the way at the end of Ambler Lane,” she said. “It’s loud.”
She added it wasn’t necessarily about the change, but the additive effect of what could happen at Ambler Farm. She added that parking can also be a concern with an increase of events and attendees.
“All of this is at the expense of the neighborhood,” she said.
The proposal also received support. Alison Semple said approving the proposal will give the farm the flexibility to continue.
“We don’t want to be a burden to the town,” she said.
Semple said the farm was important to the town and said a realtor told her it was one of Wilton’s attractions.
Ambler Farm Board member Neil Gluckin said it was a surprise the application ignited a blaze of emotions. He said the proposal is to help fund the farm without placing a burden on taxpayers in town. He said the farm is not planning to run grandiose events.
“We are not dying to make our lives as volunteers more demanding or difficult,” he said. “Don’t forget we are not carpetbaggers. We live here too.”
The Commission’s next regular meeting is April 8 in Town Hall Annex Room A.