Letter: There are better places for high-density housing

To the Editors:

The proposed development at 44 Westport Road would greatly aggravate the already dangerous traffic safety at the intersection of Dudley Road and Route 33. It is bad enough that the accident rate (the number of reported accidents/year in the immediate vicinity of 44 Westport Road) has doubled in the most recent 17 months from that recorded during the 2010-2012 period.

But the proposed development will make an already-unsafe and deteriorating traffic pattern a great deal worse. The precedent set by its approval could result in a corridor of large apartment buildings lining both sides of Westport Road from Wilton Hunt to Lambert Commons — and impassable traffic.

Wilton needs to continue growing, so the P&Z needs to designate more locations where public water, sewer, road capacity and traffic safety provisions can absorb higher-density housing. At least two other properties currently available on the market offer these attributes. In contrast with 44 Westport Road, development at neither location would aggravate traffic safety nor abut single-family homes.

More promising is the roughly 18-acre DOT property along Route 7 between the Wilton Y and the Wilton Sport Shop. Might the DOT’s past refusal to surrender any of this acreage soften if Wilton proposed using a small portion of it for housing?

What if Wilton wholly reframed the Super 7 debate and cited higher-density housing across from Allen’s Meadow as a town priority that also serves the public interest? Maybe we could convene Gov. Malloy and the DOT at a “clean slate” Route 7 discussion and respond constructively to the call for more affordable housing — without sacrificing the town’s character.

Wilton has made huge strides in recent years toward the state’s 10% affordable housing standard. At year-end 2012, Wilton’s percentage of affordable housing exceeded that of Westport, Weston, New Canaan, Darien, Fairfield and Ridgefield. When Avalon Wilton, Wilton Commons and its expansion (with a just-approved state grant) are included, Wilton’s affordable housing percentage will approximate 6% — completely dwarfing that in our neighboring towns.

Wilton’s outstanding affordable housing progress justifies the P&Z’s outright denial of the 44 Westport Road proposal. Wilton need not compromise its carefully developed planning goals by approving an unsafe and precedent-setting proposal. Let’s locate higher-density housing where it makes the most sense — right along Route 7.

Bob Kettle

25 Dudley Road, June 2