Thursday, 16 May 2013 15:54

Wilton Meeting Gets Heated Over Mega-Building

By Patricia Older | News

WILTON — While the Wilton Planning Board chair did his best to keep residents calm and remind them the board’s hands were tied in the matter of approving the Gordon Development proposal for a three-story multi-use building on Route 9, the meeting got heated as residents and applicants began talking out of turn and interrupting one another at Wednesday night’s public hearing.

"I would strongly suggest you take control of this meeting," stated Planning Board attorney Mark Schachner. "It is very difficult to produce a good record of a proceeding when we’re having a free-for-all like we’re having now."

Schachner urged board Chair Mike Dobis to restore order for the sake of the proceedings and to help Planning Board Secretary Lucy Harlow prepare meeting minutes that were accurate.

Many of the residents spoke about the fact that Route 9 is a two-lane corridor and that if the project is allowed to go through as proposed, its traffic and the traffic of future projects would have a cumulative effect, impacting everyone who has chosen Wilton as their home.

Jen DuBois, who lives on Peabody Place off of Route 9, said she had missed previous meetings on the proposed building, but she became interested as she surveyed commercial properties for sale along the corridor.

"There are 10 commercial lots for sale, and there are the apartments on the east side and the Dairy Haus—these are all on a two-lane road," said Dubois. "I am confused on how we are keeping this with the feel of a hamlet and the traffic flow. Not counting the potential development past Worth Road, I am surprised how little organization is being done in regards to the traffic flow down Route 9."

Dobis said that, originally, development along Route 9 had been a mesh, but they had tried to address those issues with the Master Plan.

"I have been on this board for 29 years and if we look at the history of Route 9, it was primarily residential," said Dobis. "With the Comprehensive Plan, we were trying to get away from more piecemeal because over time it had become a mishmash of uses."

DuBios shot back that even so, was anyone taking into consideration that Route 9 was only two lanes?

"It is a very narrow two-lane road," said DuBios.

It then went into a back and forth with the chairman trying to explain that it was a state road and the town had no jurisdiction over it and Dubois countering that she lives "in the country and I have to deal with city traffic. It is not fun."

"This group has been a very active group and I love it," replied Dobis. "But this group sometimes deals with old ordinances and misinformation. You may not like what you hear, but I am trying to give you an honest answer. We still have to work with the rules and we, as a planning board and a zoning board, have certain things we have to adhere to."

The traffic study completed by Creighton Manning indicates the proposed 114-unit complex with nearly 17,000 square feet of commercial space will generate only 55 more vehicles per hour on Route 9. The study says the corridor now handles approximately 500 to 550 cars each hour, less than the 1000 capacity.

Board member David Gabay questioned the study, asking how can "114 units generate less than 50 additional cars?"

"We are hitting that critical point—it is like when we see an algae bloom and it is this big," said Gabay, holding his hand a couple of inches apart. "And next time we look we it this big," as he widened the distance to a couple of feet.

Mike Nadolny, traffic engineer for Creighton Manning shot back that they had not "cooked" the traffic numbers for the project.

"We are not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes," said Nadolny. "We can cry and scream all we want, if the state doesn’t give us [the directive to improve the roadway,] it isn’t there."

Gabay countered, noting that the residents and the board has the right to question the figures.

"Look at Rosa Parks—if she didn’t speak up, she’d still be sitting on the back of the bus," said Gabay.

Read 5030 times