Letter: Wilton needs a plan to oppose developer

To the Editors:

On Monday night I joined at least 150 other disappointed Wiltonians at the library to hear about the development planned for 44 Westport Road. The builder and his legal counsel gave notice to the Planning & Zoning Commission late that same afternoon that they would not be attending, and apparently, the P&Z did not have the power to respond in any meaningful way. That was too bad since many of us were inconvenienced and came to the meeting eager to hear about this utterly absurd flouting of Wilton’s zoning regulations.

Once again, we witnessed a government that seems to be our adversary at every turn. P&Z boards are well known for pushing the little guy around when he or she wants to make some minor alteration to a property they have owned for years. But when a wealthy builder from another town wants to build 20 units on a one-acre lot, one would expect outrage and a plan to support its citizens by fighting the scheme with every tool available. Sadly, I didn’t get the sense that would happen.

Cases like this, which will have terribly adverse impacts on safety, traffic, property values, and village character, need to be fought. We, the taxpayers of Wilton, need lawyers with shoulders as broad as the builder’s. He cavalierly waited until it was too late to inform the public that he wasn’t showing up, leaving us all feeling frustrated and helpless. When the builder and his counsel eventually do show up, Wilton needs to be prepared with a battle plan. That plan needs to be formulated by experts. Citizens expressing outrage are no match for a builder with a profit motive. We need a clearly laid out plan with numbers, statutes, evidence, and reason.

The developer, Patrick Downend, lives on Main Street in Ridgefield. Nice neighborhood. Yet he forced a similar lucrative building scheme on the citizens of his own town recently, so he clearly doesn’t care about public outrage. He needs to face a coordinated and multi-pronged legal attack, the sort of support we, as taxpayers, expect from our government.

Again: this proposal calls for 20 residences on a one-acre plot on a busy corner already subject to traffic delays and accidents. If Planning & Zoning can’t stop this, who are they really serving?

Desmond Hussey

Little Brook Road, June 9