Early March 2023-Commercial Blight Legislation, Budgets, Housing Legislation & Transportation for Individuals with Disabilities

Commercial Blight-Proposed Legislation.

Many of you have complained about the peeling paint on the buildings at the intersection of Danbury and Ridgefield Roads and issues with a building farther south on Danbury Rd. The Town has not been able to take blight action because current state statutes only allow municipal regulation of residential blight.  I’m thrilled to share, I asked our representatives to sponsor a commercial blight bill.  State Representative Keith Denning did so (thank you) and the Planning and Development Committee included commercial blight in their Bill 6892.  The hearing on the bill is March 15th.  

Every resident, who has complained to me, to their family/friends or just to themselves, please provide testimony in support of this bill by completing the online form here.  It is super easy to complete.  The bill would also increase the fine for littering. 

Board of Finance Required Mill Rate to Support Requested Spending.

The Board of Finance released the details of a required 1.60 increase in the mill rate (or 5.69%) to support requested spending.  The major components of the 1.60 mill increase are:

  • .89 due to the requested $3.9 million increase in the BOE budget.
  • .51 due to a $2.2 million decrease in prior year budget surpluses available to reduce the mill rate. 
  • .30 due to a $1.3 million increase in debt service.
  • .17 due to the requested $730,000 increase in the BOS budget.
  • Partially offset by -.30 due to grand list growth. 

The detailed required mill rate calculation and information on the Board of Finance’s March 21st and 27th public hearings for the Boards of Selectmen and Education requested budgets are available here.

Board of Finance Survey on Selectmen and Education Budgets and Required Mill Rate.

The Board of Finance is soliciting residents’ opinions on the budgets and the required mill rate.  The survey can be completed online here or can be downloaded and printed here.  Drop off locations are available here.  Response deadline is March 31st.

March 10th- Hearing on Transit-Orientated Development Bill.  Agenda here.

The hearing on  SB1141-Transit Oriented Development is tomorrow, March 10th beginning at 11:00 a.m.  The bill is similar to last year’s DesegregateCT bill, as it would allow as of right development of housing with a minimum overall gross density of fifteen units per acre located within a one-half-mile radius of any passenger/commuter rail station or any bus rapid transit station.  The property must have sewer and water access. 

Properties with current sewer and water access within a one-half-mile radius of the Wilton Center Train Station are available here.  Properties with current water and sewer access within a one-half-mile radius of the Cannondale Train Station are those along Danbury Road up to Olmstead Hill Road on this map.

Submit online testimony here.

March 10th- Hearing on the Governor’s Bill to Incentivize Housing Production.

During the same hearing, the Committee will take testimony on the Governor’s Bill 985, which would create a state program to provide assistance to municipalities to build housing, provided the municipality ops in and designates a “housing growth zone”, which allows “middle housing” (duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, cottage clusters and townhouses) by right, with no parking requirements and at least 10% affordable for developments of 10+ units. 

Rather than being required to go through the normal Planning & Zoning and Inlands Wetlands Commissions approval process, applications will be handled by the Zoning Board of Appeals and within 30 days.  In addition to by-passing P&Z and Inland Wetlands, it by-passes any input by the Conservation Commission, Architectural Review Board, and, if applicable, the Historic District Commission.

Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) members are ill-equipped to handle these types of applications, plus Wilton’s elected ZBA has been plagued with vacancies.   It is inexplicable why this bill provides ZBA with this authority. It would not be helpful in terms of good design or the environment.  Submit testimony here.

March 15th-Hearing on DesegregateCT’s Transit-Oriented Communities Bill. Agenda here.

Bill 6890 is the new version of the organization’s bill.  It is fairly confusing, but would require municipalities adopt transit-oriented district or lose the ability to receive discretionary grants, primarily from the CT Department of Economic Development.  The required density and affordable units vary based on the type of transit, the size of the community and a ranking system.  Wilton would be required to adopt a district with net density of 20 units per acre.  The bill also requires the creation of a state Office of Responsible Growth.  Submit testimony here.

Fair Share Bill Moved Forward by the Housing Committee.

I previously described the Fair Share Bill here.  It would require the Town of Wilton to ensure the construction of approximately 1,000 housing units, with an affordable component, even if developers choose not to build such housing in Wilton.  If you are a subscriber to a Hearst newspaper, please read how WestCOG’s Executive Director Francis Pickering described the bill here.

With four housing bills before the Planning and Development Committee it is hard to know what besides the Fair Share Bill will move forward.  Once more is known, I’ll provide further details. 

And one last bill we should be concerned about…..

Bill to Eliminate the Norwalk Transit District-Provider of Wilton’s Transportation for Individuals with Disabilities. 

This bill, SB630, is sponsored by Norwalk’s State Senator Bob Duff, Senate Majority Leader and the second most powerful individual in the Senate. By all accounts this bill will be passed.  I have spoken with both our representatives, State Senator Ceci Maher and State Representative Keith Denning with concerns as to how federally mandated transportation for individuals with disabilities (para-transport) will be handled by CT Transit when they take over as of January 1, 2024. Everywhere else in the state, CT Transit subcontracts para-transport. At this point, there are no answers. 

If you, a family member, a friend or a neighbor use Norwalk Transit for para-transport or if you just care, please contact Ceci, Keith, State Senator Bob Duff and Representatives Datham, Johnson, Roberts and Simm, who are co-sponsoring with Duff, and express your concerns about January 1, 2024.  Their linked email addresses are available here or here

Please email me at lynne.vanderslice@wiltonct.org with any questions.  Please, no questions over Facebook or Messenger.

Lynne A Vanderslice

First Selectwoman