To the Editors:

I am writing to express concern about the proposed new development at the corner of Sharp Hill and Danbury Road. Given that the Norwalk River is an impaired waterway, one that fails to meet minimum state standards for E. coli, and that Connecticut is experiencing more frequent heavy rain events and longer periods of drought due to climate change, it is increasingly important to advocate for protections of existing wetlands.

Keeping wetlands healthy and intact by adhering to the 100-foot setback for development recommended in town regulations — and as a minimum by the EP — is vital to protecting water quality in part by helping to mitigate both extreme drought conditions and sudden rises in streamflow due to storm-water runoff.

NRWA is concerned that proposed development plans at 200 Danbury Road include building extremely close to wetlands, as close as 11 feet.

Our biggest concern is the pattern we are seeing in Wilton of new development that requires exceptions to recommended setbacks from wetlands and watercourses. The cumulative effect of exceptions made in the past and those that may be made in the future poses a growing threat to the Norwalk River. Directly along the river, recent or proposed development includes the almost five miles of impervious roadway under Eversource wiring, two buildings near Trackside, the replacement of Young’s Nursery with the Sunrise facility, expansions at the Y and ASML, the medical center across from town hall, the proposed Wilton Heights and a possible 18,000-square-foot Mormon Church. These all are, or may soon become, stresses on our already impaired river.

We cannot afford to compromise the few intact wetlands we have remaining along the river. As Wilton’s Inland Wetland regulations describe wetlands, they are an “indispensable, irreplaceable, and fragile natural resource.” Their preservation and protection “is in the public interest and is essential to the health, welfare and safety of the citizens of the town.”

NRWA urges the town to insist on 100-foot setbacks from wetlands and waterways as its regulations recommend.

Louise Washer, President

Norwalk River Watershed Association