Letter: Historic district deserves consideration
To the Editors:
I respond to the Feb. 23 Bulletin quotes by Richard Bondy and David Palombo’s letter to the editor which contain errors and which do not consider critical developments.
The statutory process of becoming a historic district (HD) includes educating property owners, concluding with an educated vote.
Messrs. Bondy and Palombo state that a historic district would devalue their property. However, economic studies of HDs show that inclusion generally enhances property value. Numerous economic studies agree with the 2011 Connecticut study summarized by the Bulletin. A neighbor, quoted last week, stated that their experience actually living in a historic district was that the designation added value. Messrs. Bondy and Palombo have not identified any data to the contrary, and they ignore the issue or suggest without explanation that all the studies are invalid solely because they are not based in Wilton with its somehow unique economic woes.
Although Messrs. Bondy and Palombo assert that most of the homeowners in the proposed historic district agree with them, only four of those households, including theirs, attended the informational meetings. Mr. Bondy’s cover letter that he used to exhort his neighbors (but not submitted to the Historic District Commission with the letters) included misinformation. The demand of Mr. Bondy and his form letter, to “terminate the study group,” is also based on misinformation. The “study group” begins the process, but it has not been convened.
The quoted language is tantamount to demanding that the town foreclose the process altogether. This smacks of violating the due process rights of the neighbors who expect to learn during the process to submit an educated vote.
The responses to Mr. Palombo’s question, who supports the possible creation of a historic district: (1) we who hosted the informational meetings, as well as most of the attendees; (2) the neighbors quoted last week; (3) those neighbors awaiting information, who shouldn’t have to run the gauntlet for Messrs. Bondy and Palombo before the process begins; and (4) others, for whom the nastiness of some of the neighbors is a deterrent.
None of this addresses the 800-pound gorilla. In last week’s Bulletin, we learned that the property owner at 183 Ridgefield Road, per its attorney’s Feb. 13 letter, “proposes to construct a 35-unit … housing development” of three-bedroom units on the 13.5-acre property (until now, two-acre zoning), with attached garages (I speculate two cars per unit). If approved, expect another stoplight.
At 2.7 three-bedroom units and five cars per acre, the Bald Hill residents should consider how such a neighbor would affect their property value. On a four-acre property there could be 11 three-bedroom units with 22 cars. A 16-acre property, well, you do the math. A historic district designation could prevent that.
I hope the neighbors who signed Mr. Bondy’s form letter consider learning more about becoming a historic district. The process is the same for voting for it or against it. Of course, they might also want to ponder that gorilla.
Ridgefield Road, Feb. 28