End of October-First Selectwoman's Update-Public Hearings, Theft of Signs, Sewer Capacity, WPS Buildings Needs Assessment and More

Public Hearings: Commercial Blight and Mobility Vehicle Tax Credits.   On November 6th at 7:00 p.m. the Board of Selectmen will hold a public hearing on two proposed ordinances:

  • A revised proposed blight ordinance 1-reflecting recently passed state legislation, which allows our ordinance to include commercial blight and which set new blight fees and 2-adds peeling paint, as described, as a condition of blight.  The revised ordinance with changes in red is available here.  
  • A new proposed ordinance providing a tax exemption for vehicles for disabled individuals is available here.  

Theft of Lawn Signs Displaying the Israeli Flag:  Over the last few days, residents have reported theft of lawn signs displaying the Israeli flag.  The Wilton Police are actively investigating.  The thefts are not only illegal, but are acts of anti-Semitism that won’t be tolerated in Wilton.  Please report any stolen sign to the Wilton Police Department to assist them in their work identifying the suspect(s).  

This link contains the locations of the ten reported thefts as of mid-day today.   If you live in the area of any of these locations and saw something, please report it to the police. If you have outside cameras, please check your cameras and pass along any video of potential interest to the police.  Let’s all be vigilant as a means of showing support.

WPCA-Sewer Allocation Policy.  At our October 11th meeting, WPCA members continued to discuss remaining available sewer capacity versus possible sewer allocation requests.  In response, we agreed to adopt priority guidance for future allocations.  The discussion presentation is here.  Priorities were identified as First-Danbury Road (Wilton Center Train Station) Transit Oriented Development Overlay District, as per the zoning map, Second-Wilton Center Overlay Zone, as per the zoning map, Third-Danbury Road.

At Monday night’s meeting, we adopted the above capacity allocation priority guidance effective October 11, 2023.  At future meetings, we’ll continue to discuss additional means to address capacity. 

POCD Progress.  October was the 4-year anniversary of the effective date of the Town’s Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), which “sets forth the community’s forward-looking vision for Wilton’s development during the next ten years and beyond”.  The Plan informs the work and the priorities of Wilton boards/committees/commissions and employees.  All have made great progress against the Plan.  Read my detailed report here.

School Buildings Update.  I have been contacted by residents with incorrect assumptions about the upcoming needs assessment report.  The report has not yet been issued.  The following is intended to provide clarification in advance of upcoming discussion at a November 15th special meeting.

  • The detailed recommended maintenance and capital projects in the draft report were NOT all required now. The draft report contained required and recommended spending over 10 years, beginning in FY2025 with variable spending by year. Recommended spending can be performed over a longer period. 
  • Although sections of roofs have been replaced and some interior upgrades have occurred, much of the basic infrastructure including, masonry, doors, and windows, are original and are aging.  The Board of Selectmen knew this. The need for school and municipal building improvements was identified in the POCD and was expected to follow the new Police Headquarters, as it is.  We engaged consultants to examine the building and provide a full scope of required/recommended work for the next 10 years to allow us to present the voters with a 10-year capital plan. 
  • The Board of Education’s annual budget includes a line item for building repairs.  Included within the $100+ million was maintenance work that will continue to be funded though that budget line item over the next 10 years.  
  • A significant share of the recommended spending was bondable, including known infrastructure replacements already discussed and included in the 5-year bonded capital plan presented at this May’s Annual Town Meeting.   
  • The Town borrows money after approval by the Town Meeting.  Referendums are put on the ballot when the funds are needed with consideration of existing debt service and forecasted debt service.  Referendums are not always well received.  Many remember the referendum for the Miller Driscoll renovation passed by only 27 votes and the subsequent lawsuits.  As such, it is necessary to plan and manage annual debt service and build residents’ confidence in the projects recommended. Town bonds are repaid over 10 and/or 20 years depending on the useful life of what is bonded.
  • To qualify as tax-exempt bonds, the Town must intend to spend the borrowed monies within three years.  As such, suggestions that the voters should have approved borrowing of $100+ million in the years when rates were lower and then presumably sit on it until we needed the funds would have meant those bonds would not have been tax-exempt and thus would have sold at higher taxable rates.   
  • As of June 2023, the Town had $76.8 million of outstanding debt and $7 million of approved bonding, not yet borrowed.  Approximately 46% of outstanding debt was school and 54% municipal.
  • During the 9-year period of FY2015 to FY2023, the Town borrowed $83.7 million.  The largest being Miller Driscoll, Police Headquarters, Road Restoration and Comstock Renovation with additional borrowings for recreation facilities, bridges, fire apparatus and school roofs.
  • FY2023 outstanding debt is approximately $18 million greater than FY2014’s debt due to these large projects. 

Development and Cannabis:  

  • 15 Old Danbury Road-Pre-application discussions were held with the Planning & Zoning Commission for a 207-unit apartment complex adjacent to the Wilton Train Station.  Information, including renderings, is here.  Reminder, the Commission can only accept public comment on a project when that project has submitted an actual application and a public hearing has been opened.  CT state laws govern their proceedings.  
  • At their October 23rd meeting, the Planning & Zoning Commission deliberated and approved the overlay regulations for Wilton Center and the Wilton Center Transit Orientated Development District.
  • At the same meeting, the Commission held a hearing on cannabis establishments and ultimately voted to prohibit such establishments within the zoning regulations.  A few residents provided comment that they would prefer a decision be made by a town vote.  CT State law is not an either/or. Instead the state law enables both the Planning & Zoning Commission to have a public hearing and vote on a zoning regulation and the Annual Town Meeting to hold a vote on an ordinance.  If an upcoming Annual Town Meeting were to pass an ordinance allowing cannabis establishments, any interested business or resident could file an application with the Commission to propose a zoning regulation for cannabis establishments, including where such establishments could be located.  Or the Commission itself could create and pass a regulation.
  • The Inland Wetlands Commission received an application for 131 Danbury Road.  The application materials are available here.

Enrollment Projections for Proposed Apartment Buildings.  Residents continue to ask how many new students might be expected from the various proposals.  The WPS recently engaged a consultant to develop enrollment projections.  The projections will be discussed during tomorrow’s BOE meeting and will be available here prior to the meeting.  The consultant projected and forecasted the following,

  • .22 students per unit broken down as follows:  .12 combined for Miller Driscoll and Cider Mill, .04 Middlebrook and .06 Wilton High School.
  • New students entering over a 4-year period were included in the enrollment projections as follows:  37 for 141 Danbury Road, 9 for 12 Godfrey Place and 4 for 2 Hollyhock for a total of 50 students.  The consultant also included 16 students for 300 Danbury Road. That developer abandoned the project and the project is not expected to be built. 
  • The consultant provided estimated new students for projects being discussed but not approved as follows: 64 Danbury Road-21, 131 Danbury Road-45, 15 Old Danbury Road-44 and Kimco-33.  Those students were not included in the enrollment projections.  

ASML’s Junior Academy. Great news about ASML’s new Junior Academy, which will benefit Wilton students.  Read more here.

Please email me at Lynne.Vanderslice@wiltonct.org with questions.  No question via Facebook.

Lynne A Vanderslice

First Selectwoman