Ernie DesRochers is a former chairman of the Norwalk Zoning Commission and managing Director at NorthMarq Capital.
To the Editor:
Much progress has been made recently on the 95/7 regional mall development proposed by GGP for the Reed Putnam parcel along West Avenue in Norwalk.
The Ad-Hoc Committee, composed of members of the Common Council, the Redevelopment Agency, and Planning Commission who were tasked with evaluating the existing Land Disposition Agreement (LDA), has recommended changes to the LDA to the permitted uses and square footage that will allow for the proposed Concept Master Site Plan to move forward. Also, Nordstrom, a leading national fashion specialty retailer, recently committed to be one of two retail anchors for the center. What a great addition to the Norwalk business community and to the City as a whole!
While these are two important developments, they are only initial steps towards the full review, evaluation and approval of the GGP Mall. Ahead for the developer remains final approval of the amendment to the Land Disposition Agreement, modifications to the Urban Renewal Plan, a full review and evaluation by the Redevelopment Agency, including a required design review by a third-party reviewer, changes to the Building Zone Regulations of the City of Norwalk, and full Site Plan and Coastal Area Management approvals.
In addition to these, the GGP mall development will also require approvals from various other agencies including the Norwalk Department of Code Enforcement, Fire Department, Department of Public Works, Water Pollution Control Authority, and Health Department, State of Connecticut, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Office of the State Traffic Commission, just to name a few.
My experience as former Zoning Commission chairman is there will be several significant reports and studies required for these approvals. They are done as part of the overall process as an application makes its way through final approval. Reports are commissioned and reviewed once detailed plans are finalized by the developer and submitted as part of the application process. That has yet to occur. Reports will include a full traffic study, engineering and storm water management reports, and a coastal area management evaluation, just to name a few.
Rest assured, this development parcel, as with all large parcels that are proposed for development in Norwalk, will undergo a thorough vetting process to ensure that any and all issues are properly addressed.
As a taxpayer and supporter of the GGP proposal, I want to thank all of the Ad-Hoc Committee members for their efforts to date. I am also pleased that this proposal has large bi-partisan support and look forward to seeing the mall approved and built. A development like this certainly will help make Norwalk CT the destination for Fairfield County!