Letter: New zone will devastate Ridgefield Road

To the Editors:
The Town of Wilton describes its character as follows:
The transformation from a small farming town to a suburban residential community of approximately 18,000 has been carefully controlled by zoning and through the preservation of the town's older colonial landmarks.[emphasis added].
The town has had the foresight to preserve almost 1,000 acres of open space for active and passive recreational use. Although there is limited land remaining for development, Wilton retains much of its open feeling and rural atmosphere. Winding back roads with trees, streams, ponds, woods, and rolling hills are all part of Wilton's beauty and charm and afford privacy as well as a pastoral setting.
“There exists among both new residents and those with established roots a strong commitment and concern that Wilton, whatever its future, shall retain some part of its rural heritage.” (www.wiltonct.org)
Thus, when we decided to purchase our home on Ridgefield Road almost 15 years ago, we did so with the impression that its scenic road designation implied the town and residents as well as the State of Connecticut appreciated not only its bucolic beauty, but its historical significance and the charming historic homes gracing this beautiful road.
Now we have come to learn through a little-publicized maneuver that Planning and Zoning approved an Age Restricted Overlay District (AROD) opening Ridgefield Road to development of high-density housing. Had AROD's impact on Ridgefield Road been fully and clearly publicized there would have been significant objection to such a drastic zoning code change.
A precious and significant piece of history once lost cannot never be regained. The Town of Wilton itself recognized the importance of maintaining our heritage when it adopted Zoning Regulation 29-5.C.8 in an effort to facilitate the preservation of historic/architecturally significant buildings. Wilton’s conservation plan similarly states that its goal is to “contribute to Wilton’s character” and its strategies include "preserv[ing] Wilton’s Scenic Roads and Scenic Views” — Ridgefield Road is a state-designated scenic road. Was extending AROD to Ridgefield Road in harmony with these goals? As evident for the demolition of the Schlichting House, developers now are free to destroy more historic homes on Ridgefield Road as well as construct “incompatible new construction.”
A high-density development will significantly increase the traffic on lower Ridgefield Road and the geography of the beautiful winding road will lead to demands that the road be widened to ensure safety. This is in direct conflict of the conservation commission’s strategy to preserve Wilton’s Scenic Roads and Scenic Views.
By keeping Ridgefield Road in AROD, this beautiful road will end up a ruined landscape and its beauty, and history forever altered all for short-term gain. This is a time to pause and consider the severe ramifications to a precious piece of Wilton’s history.
We invite all Wilton residents to attend the next Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on May 8 at 7:15 p.m. in the Brubeck Room of Wilton Library and show their support for the removal of Ridgefield Road from AROD.
Donna and Andrew Harakas
Ridgefield Road, May 2