Six seek five seats on Planning and Zoning

The race for Planning and Zoning Commission on Nov. 7 pits nine individuals against each other for eight seats available on the board.

There are a total of five full-term seats available, with six running. There are also three seats up to fill two-year vacancies, with three running.

Those in the contested race will be out to capture the most votes from an electorate that is a total of 12,454 voters, including 4,717 unaffiliated, the majority, 4,177 Republicans, and 3,478 Democrats.

Planning and Zoning is one of the most active boards in town, ruling on issues of land use planning and zoning regulations that in many ways dictate the character of the town.

The Bulletin asked the candidates to discuss their background, top issues, and qualifications. Those running for a full term in a contested race are presented here in the order they appear on the ballot. 

Eric Fanwick, Democrat

Bio: Wilton resident 18 years. Previously served on the Zoning Board of Appeals for five years. Has served on the Water Pollution Control Authority for seven years. He is a senior systems analyst for OrthoNet, a leading health care management company headquartered in White Plains, N.Y., and formerly ran his own technology consulting company.

Top three issues:

  • Modernizing zoning regulations to encourage commercial development.

  • Preserving the Wilton historic nature by encouraging regulation favoring historic structures.

  • Maintaining a healthy balance between residential and commercial properties

Qualifications: “I believe Wilton to be a excellent balance of residential and commercial space. And to help preserve that balance I have spent most of the past 18 years on land-use boards. I believe that good zoning regulations and a detailed master plan are key elements to maintaining the nature of Wilton. What this service has taught me is that everyone who comes before the board does so for their own personal reasons but it is the board’s responsibility to speak for the town.”

Doris Knapp, Democrat

Bio: Knapp currently serves on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Married, two children, two grandchildren. She is an attorney, with a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College, a master’s degree in urban studies from Southern Connecticut State University, and a juris degree from Pace University School of Law.

Top three issues: “My goal for serving on the Commission is to make sure that the present and future needs of Wilton are met in a sensible manner. We need to preserve what makes Wilton so special while thoughtfully planning for the future. Those plans include considering Wilton Center improvements, opportunities for attracting and retaining business, making Wilton more attractive for families with and without children and for a variety of ages and considering the town’s taxation policies.”

Qualifications: “I have been on the Planning & Zoning Commission for over 10 years, have lived in Wilton over 45 years and am very familiar with the issues that have been important to the town. I have participated, as a

P&Z Commissioner, in the creation of the prior Plan of Conservation and Development so I know how important it is to create a document that is forward-looking and deals with topics that may affect Wilton 10 years into the future. One of the topics that is important to Wilton’s future is the land-use map which will deal with development and open space. Other topics include environmental issues such as our dependency on private wells and septic systems. We also need to look at new energy sources such as solar and natural gas and the effect they might have on the town. While we can’t predict the future, the POCD should be forward looking enough to deal with it and I believe I can help make that happen.”

Peter Shiue, Republican

Bio: A Wilton resident since 2005, is a current member of the Planning and Zoning Commission. With an MBA in finance from the University of Connecticut, Shiue is a senior broker with Colliers International, based in New Haven, and has worked in commercial real estate since 1997. Holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago. Wife, Vivian Lee-Shiue, is current chair of the Wilton Economic Development Commission. They have twins in the first grade at Miller-Driscoll School.

Top three issues:

  • Encourage investment and development of commercial properties in Wilton Center and other targeted areas in town to increase the commercial tax base and alleviate the increasing tax burden to homeowners.

  • Support increasing the diversity of housing stock, responsibly.

  • Signage reform, particularly focused on retail properties.

Qualifications: “My continuous service on zoning boards since 2006 has provided me with a level of knowledge and expertise about planning and land-use issues affecting Wilton that can only be attained through experience. Beginning with my six years on the Zoning Board of Appeals, during which I was exposed to the concerns of individual property owners, to the past five years on the Planning & Zoning Commission, where I have had to consider actions affecting the town on more of a macro level, my understanding of the issues that affect Wilton has grown with each year served. During my 20 years of working in the commercial real estate industry, I have seen the end result of smart, and sometimes not-so-smart, land-use planning in towns and cities throughout Connecticut. We are at a critical juncture here in Wilton, where the need to grow the commercial tax base to offset flat growth and reduced state-level funding can often conflict with the desire of Wiltonians to preserve the character of the town that attracted them in the first place. Through an effective Planning & Zoning commission, those two goals are not necessarily mutually exclusive.”

Sally Poundstone, Republican

Bio: Poundstone serves on the Planning and Zoning Commission and is the former chairman. Wilton resident since January 1995. Four married children, four grandchildren, two step-grandchildren. Former chair of Zoning Board of Appeals, board member and former president of Woodcock Nature Center, founding board member of Stay At Home In Wilton.

Top three issues:

  • Transparency in local government.

  • Broad community input followed by adoption of new Plan of Conservation and Development.

  • Understanding the role of Wilton’s small businesses and neighborhoods in today’s technology revolution.

Qualifications: “I have background in planning and zoning in Wilton and elsewhere. I commit to give the time necessary for the homework, site visits and listening to all sides at public meetings. I have experience as an active volunteer and a leader in Wilton. I have confidence in Wilton’s people, our community culture, and willingness to build on our strengths for a strong town future. I will work with energy and enthusiasm for Wilton. I promise to fulfill the responsibilities for Planning and Zoning Commission.”

Christopher Pagliaro, Republican

Bio: Wilton resident almost 22 years with his wife, Dorothy. “Throughout our time here, we have strived to be contributing members of the community, volunteering at the schools, on the playing fields, and for numerous charitable causes. I have previously served the town in two capacities: Building Inspector’s Board of Appeals, and on the Counsel on Public Facilities. While a member of the CPF, I was asked to lead the completion of the Veterans Stadium renovation, specifically the planning, budgeting and completion of the concessions building and team rooms, which were completed ahead of schedule and on budget.” He is the managing partner of Pagliaro Bartels Sajda Architects, based in South Norwalk.

Top three issues: “In my opinion, the recent controversies in town have been a healthy wake-up. ‘Respect …’ rings true, as do those who understand the value of an improved tax base, including the importance of creating a thriving village. We all want our small-business owners to succeed, and to do so we must make our community attractive to their consumers. Currently, it is the chicken and egg: stores cannot survive without people, yet we can’t attract enough people because there aren’t enough retail attractions. We must find that balance. We must find a place for the higher density developments — a place where they are properly placed, properly planned — so that we are no longer fighting each and every one of them, so that they aren’t randomly popping up on a residential scenic road, and so we aren’t in the desperate position of wanting anything that will increase our tax base. Route 7 should not be Wilton’s garbage dump, where anything we don’t want to see in town lands. We must follow the principles of good town planning, which understands where and how the successful placement of the varying components of a town should be. They are all “amenities” that make up a community. Amenities that must be properly allocated before there is no community.”

Qualifications: “I believe it is pertinent because I have practiced professionally in countless municipalities, providing me with a broad insight of good town planning, and bad. Recently, I participated in the Wilton Library’s lecture series ‘Wilton 2025,’ speaking of the importance of addressing the social and planning needs of our community.”

Melissa-Jean Rotini, petition candidate, unaffiliated

Bio: Member of Planning and Zoning Commission. Wilton resident 10 years with husband. Has eldest child in kindergarten. An attorney, graduate of Fordham University, representing municipalities in Westchester and Rockland counties of New York.

Top three issues: “Wilton is a wonderful place with beautiful open spaces, a community feel, and a great education system. I think we need to promote these assets while finding ways to make our downtown even better, create solutions for our historic enclaves, and push forward with an overall plan to meet people’s needs. I’m excited to see the POCD process move forward and will work to implement what the people want.”

Qualifications: “I had discussed trying to get onto a town board for some time. My life has led me to have knowledge of a random collection of useful information that I believe could benefit the town. I engage in a detailed review of each and every application, and ask the questions I believe need answers. Anyone who has been to a meeting in the past few months will attest that I ask questions. But I ask what I think the residents want to know. I try to address any potential issues I identify, and try to assure proposed projects are compliant with our regulations, are safe for the community and our first responders, and that the town is being protected.”