February 2023-First Selectwoman’s Update
- 12 Godfrey Place, 4 story, 32-unit. 10% affordable apartment building.
The applicant pulled the application on Monday afternoon in anticipation of a denial by the Planning & Zoning Commission that same evening. The applicant was seeking a zone change to allow for 54 units per acre within a half-mile of the Wilton Center train station.
Earlier in the month, the applicant submitted a pre-application for a 5 story, 42-unit, 30% affordable 8-30(g) project of similar design. 8-30(g) refers to the state statutes, which basically allows the developer to by-pass the town’s zoning regulations because Wilton’s affordable housing units are less than 10% of all housing units.
The owner is expected to file an 8-30(g) project as their next application.
- I-Park Hotel application
The property owner submitted an application for a proposed hotel off of lower Kent Road on Cannondale Way. The owners previously discussed a design for a 120-unit hotel with the Architectural Review Board.
- 19 Cannon Road, 70-unit, 30% affordable 8-30 (g) apartment building.
The applicant filed an appeal with the court of the Water Pollution Control Authority’s denial of their applications for a sewer extension, capacity allocation and sewer connection.
Police Headquarters Building
Last night the Planning and Zoning Commission provided the final regulatory approved for the construction of the new headquarters building on the Town Campus on Danbury. A significant milestone for the project.
Update-Proposed Turf Field at Allen’s Meadow
I’ve received questions about the proposed timing and funding for the proposed turf field at Allen’s Meadow.
- The Board of Selectmen plans to present a bonding referendum at the May Annual Town Meeting for a yet to-be-determined share of the cost for a proposed organic in-fill turf field at Allen’s Meadow. Should the bonding referendum be approved, Wilton Athletic & Recreation Foundation (WARF) will provide the funds for the balance of the cost prior to contracts being executed. As with the police headquarters, the Town is required to obtain approvals from the town regulatory boards and commissions.
- A possible seasonal bubble for the turf field is not being proposed at the May Annual Town Meeting. The bubble will be discussed as a phase 2. Unlike the turf field, WARF would be required to fundraise the larger share of the bubble.
The Norwalk River Watershed Association has raised concerns with turf fields due to, among others, the high heat generated by crumb rubber turf fields and the PFAS testing they performed for the waters behind Allen’s Meadow and Cider Mill retention pond.
- As above, the Town does not install crumb rubber in-fill turf fields. The organic coconut in-fill at WHS Stadium and Lilly turf fields retains moisture and is often cooling.
- The Town is investigating the NRWA’s concerns about PFAS, including testing of a broader range of the watershed and obtaining an understanding of the potential sources for PFAS in the area. For example, the Cider Mill Pond is a receptacle for multiple storm water discharges, including an intermittent stream that begins at the top of Catalpa, passes through many residential properties and behind the WHS fields where it is piped into the pond.
- At an upcoming BOS meeting, likely March 21st or April 3rd, DPW Director/Town Engineer Frank Smeriglio will present the watershed drainage systems for the area, including drainage piped into the Cider Mill retention pond. Environmental Affairs Director Mike Conklin will share the results of the expanded watershed testing.
For residents, who aren’t familiar PFAS is an emerging science. The EPA has a webpage specific to PFAS, which states “PFAS are widely used, long lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time. Because of their widespread use and their persistence in the environment, many PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and are present at low levels in a variety of food products and in the environment.”
The State of Connecticut Department of Public Health has a webpage specific to artificial turf fields. Regarding PFAS, it states “To date, research on this topic is limited to a single, peer-reviewed study (Lauria et. al. 2022). Results of this study, conducted by researchers from public health departments and universities in Sweden and Canada, indicate that the fluorinated substances (fluoropolymers) measured in the artificial turf fields appear to be bound to the components of the artificial turf and do not leach into the environment. Further, they are not the type of fluorinated chemicals that transform in the environment into harmful PFAS.”
The EPA is expected to provide further guidance soon. We will continue to monitor.
FY2024 Board of Selectmen Proposed Budget.
At our February 21st meeting, the Board adopted a proposed budget of $34,673,595 or a 2.15% increase versus the current year and an 8-year average annual increase of .86%. The drivers of the increase are:
- The hiring of one additional police officer to address resident requests for increased traffic enforcement.
- General wage increases ranging from 2.25% to 2.75%.
- Continued increasing costs to dispose of waste and handle recyclables. A few years ago, the town sold recyclables, now we pay to have them processed, sometimes at a cost as high as the cost to dispose of household waste.
This is a statewide problem that needs a statewide solution.We are hoping for positive outcomes from this legislative session. Today the CT Mirror had an article about the Governor’s proposals and push back from the industry.Jennifer Heaton-Jones, Executive Director of the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority, of which Wilton is a member, will be discussing local and statewide issues on March 9th. Please see details below.
- 5.5% increase in medical insurance costs. Despite an average annual increase of approximately 5% since joining the state plan, the FY2024 group insurance budget is still 9% lower than the budget for the year before we moved to the state plan.
The Board of Finance is expected to have $2 million less in prior year budget savings to reduce the FY2024 mill rate than they had in FY2023. As a result of this and increasing operating expenses, the Board of Finance is discussing a mill rate increase of more than 5%. I advised the Board of Selectmen members to expect a reduction to our proposed budget as I do not believe that rate of property tax increase is acceptable to the majority of the Board of Finance, the taxpayers or our board.
Dana Dam Removal Project.
At our February 21st meeting, Environmental Affairs Director Mike Conklin provided an update on the project. During the month of March, 183 trees will be removed to create an access way for the dam deconstruction. The Mianus Chapter of Trout Unlimited will plant 2 trees for each tree removed up to 400.
Instream work will be during the summer. Contractor vehicles will be parked in the overflow parking area for Merwin Meadows. The project is expected to be completed by the end of September.
Mark Your Calendar:
Luminaria Walk and Bonfire at Schenck’s Island-Sunday, March 5th, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Hot chocolate and s’mores. Sponsored by the Conservation Commission. Family friendly. Dogs must be on a leash.
Trash Talk with Jennifer Heaton-Jones of HRRA-Thursday, March 9th, 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wilton Library. More details and the registration link are here. Sponsored by Wilton Go Green and the Wilton Library.
Board of Finance Public Hearing on the Board of Selectmen Budget-Tuesday, March 21st. Watch for details.
Board of Finance Public Hearing on the Board of Education Budget-Monday, March 27th. Watch for details.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Please, no questions via Facebook.
Lynne A Vanderslice