Mid-October 2023-First Selectwoman’s Update- Cannabis Establishments, Next Steps-Proposed Wilton Center and TOD Regulations, Guy Whitten Field Lights and More

Monday’s Public Hearing on Cannabis Establishments.  The 2021 state legislation legalizing recreational cannabis allowed both municipal legislative bodies and zoning commissions to make decisions for their own town regarding recreational cannabis establishments.   

The Planning and Zoning Commission

  • In October 2021, adopted a one-year moratorium of cannabis establishments. 
  • In October of 2022, extended the moratorium until October 29, 2023.  

This Monday, the Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a hearing on whether 

  • to extend the moratorium, 
  • permanently ban establishments, or 
  • allow establishments and develop associated zoning regulations.  

Documents related to the hearing, including public comment already received are here.  The agenda is here.  Instructions on providing comments, emailed or during the meeting are on the agenda. 

An October 10th public hearing to permanently ban cannabis establishments was cancelled and replaced by this public hearing after a resident complained the commission wasn’t considering the alternative of allowing cannabis establishments. 

The Board of Selectmen, which serves as the legislative body between town meetings, discussed putting a cannabis ordinance to a town meeting.  

  • First, on the November 2021 municipal election ballot, but it was determined that wasn’t legally allowed,  
  • Second, on an expected January 2022 special town meeting for the approval of the Police HQ, but that wasn’t held because the project wasn’t ready, and 
  • Third, the May 2022 Annual Town Meeting.  

The ordinance question never made it to the Annual Town Meeting.  That was my fault. Two days after stating it would be done, the then CFO told me she was resigning, which meant I took on many of her responsibilities through the town meeting plus mine and completely forgot about the cannabis ordinance question.  Apparently also did the other Board of Selectmen members, the public and the press as I don’t recall anyone bringing it up until a recent article in Good Morning Wilton questioning our lack of action.  Nonetheless, it is my responsibility to remember these things.  I issued a statement, which is available here, accepting responsibility with an apology to all of you.  

With my term then ending in seven weeks, it was too late for me to remedy this. It will be up to the next Board of Selectmen to do so.  Based on the fact that a majority of the current board members will still be on the board after the November election regardless of the results, I expect that will happen. 

Next Steps-Proposed Zoning Regulations-Wilton Center and Wilton Center TOD.  Thursday night, the Planning & Zoning Commission held a public hearing on the proposed form-based regulations for Wilton Center and the TOD overlay for the area around the Wilton Center train station.  As a reminder, these changes don’t replace current regulations.  Instead, they provide an alternate subject to requirements.  

By Wilton standards, the hearing received a large resident response with an overwhelming expression of support.  Twenty-eight residents provided written comments and over 50 attended the hearing.  It was great to hear from many longer-term residents, proving wrong the unfair stereotype that as we get older, we are less willing to evolve and embrace change.  

The public hearing is now closed. 

The Commission will hold deliberations and a possible vote at Monday’s regular Planning & Zoning Commission meeting.

Because of the high level of interest, the Commission limited the hearing to these two regulations.  A separate public hearing will be held for the proposed overlay zones for Danbury Road.  As per state law, that hearing must be published twice in a printed newspaper, meaning the date won’t be immediate.  

Installation of Lights on Guy Whitten Field.  The Parks and Recreation Commission, voted to recommend transfer approved infrastructure spending from drainage work at Middlebrook field(s) to installation of lights at Guy Whitten Field.  The Board of Selectmen approved the recommendation with the expectation the Board would also approve funding to refurbish the Guy Whitten Field in conjunction with the approved drainage project for the WHS Sports Complex.  

A drain must be installed under the field as part of the greater drainage project.  Thus it made more practical and financial sense to wait. 

The lights are being funded with Infrastructure Improvement Fund and the ARPA monies.  The WHS Sports Complex through a federal grant. At our next meeting, I’ll provide a recommendation as to how we might refurbish Guy Whitten without requiring new budgeted funds. 

School Buildings 10-Year Needs Assessment Report.  Regular readers know the Board of Selectmen engaged consultants to develop 10-year needs assessments for school and municipal buildings.  We did this because, having already addressed roads, bridges and the police headquarters, we knew the next major areas of focus for required infrastructure investments were WHS, Cider Mill and Middlebrook buildings, Town Hall and other municipal buildings.

Staff received the 10-year draft report for the three school buildings. It included over $100 million of work, including regular maintenance, periodic maintenance and bonded capital projects.  Spending will more likely be approved over 15 years so the final report will include prioritization over that longer time period to be discussed at a quad-board meeting in mid-November.  

The Board of Selectmen had already put $15.4 million of school bonded capital projects in the plan through FY2028 as presented at the May Annual Town Meeting.  

For those remembering and wondering….yes, 25+ years ago there were large dollar amounts approved for expansions including:

  • April 1997, approval of $14.5 million for a 60,700 sq. ft. addition to Middlebrook and $900,000 for the gym.
  • April 1997, approval of $21.5 million for the expansion of Cider Mill.
  • May 1999, approval of $18.8 million for the expansion of Wilton High School

Schenck’s Island Parking Lot.  As previously shared the parking lot project was delayed due to difficulties with obtaining lighting. As often happens, delays mean the contractor moves on to another project.  The contractor has returned, the area has been graded, the bollards installed, and gravel laid.  It will be reopening soon with the lights to be installed when they become available.  We apologize for the delay. 

CT DOT Installation of Rumble Strips on Danbury Road.  We received notice the state intends to install rumble strips on the center lines of Danbury Road for the length just recently repaved.  The Police Department, the Police Commission, acting as the Wilton Traffic Authority, and the Board of Selectmen all concurred with CT DOT’s decision.  Fortunately, the installation will only require a couple of days.  We have not yet received a date for the work.  

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

Lynne A Vanderslice

First Selectwoman

* An earlier version of this Update incorrectly referred to the Bianca Rosso building as 3.5 stories.