NORWALK, Conn. – The Planning and Zoning Commission plans a busy online meeting Wednesday:
- Vote possible on Glover Avenue master plan
- Controversial East Norwalk development gets its first review
- A public hearing on City’s desire to opt out of State accessory apartment law
The Planning and Zoning Commission is set to discuss Stamford-based developer BLT’s proposed master plan for Glover Avenue at its Wednesday evening meeting on Zoom. It may vote on the plan, which would tentatively allow 1,290 apartments in seven buildings on the road’s western side.
The public comment period ended Tuesday.
If greenlighted, BLT would likely construct the first three buildings, with about 500 apartments, “relatively immediately,” according to BLT (Building and Land Technology) General Counsel David Waters. Further construction would hinge upon major traffic improvements under consideration by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT).
Long-feared DiScala/Spinnaker East Norwalk development debuts
Also at Wednesday’s P&Z meeting, plans for mixed-use development with 77 apartments at 1 Cemetery St., the former Wells Fargo bank property on the circle near the beach, will get their first public airing.
The 1.66-acre parcel would be home to two new buildings with a public courtyard accessed through an internal loggia, that might include covered outdoor dining, according to the special permit application posted on the City’s website Tuesday. The bank would be demolished and the impervious paving removed, thus reducing stormwater runoff and “providing significant landscaped improvement to the existing asphalted area along the water’s edge,” along Mill Pond.
There’s a buzz about this proposal but documents were only posted online last week, excluding the actual application.
“We expedited their application in front of the Commission because they need outside peer review of both the design/architecture and traffic, so they gave us digital copies of just the plans, so we could get them to the Commission for review,” Planning and Zoning Director Steven Kleppin said Tuesday morning.
The project had opposition long before the application was made; it was mentioned at an August 2020 hearing on the East Norwalk Transit Oriented Development plan.
“Any redevelopment on that site, whether the regulations get changed or not, are going to improve that property,” Kleppin said at the time. “Because right now if you take an overhead look at it, it’s basically a sea of asphalt, which is not a very good use of the property.”
Mill Pond Holdings LLC owns the property; Michael Discala is listed as LLC manager. However, Spinnaker Real Estate Partners is also mentioned on the special permit application, signed by Matt Edvardsen of Spinnaker.
This is the last item on P&Z’s agenda. Commission Chairman Lou Schulman has a policy of keeping the meeting to four hours.
Opting out, even if the concept has merit
P&Zers are also holding a public hearing on accessory apartments.
“The State of Connecticut passed Public Act No. 21-29 (HB 6107) which revised Section 8-2 of the Connecticut General Statutes which pertains to Zoning. Included in the legislation are requirements and limitations for how accessory apartments or accessory dwelling units (ADUs) can be regulated by a municipality,” Principal Planner Bryan Baker explained in a memo to the Commission.
It takes effect Jan. 1 unless a municipality opts out – and that’s what P&Z is considering.
Among other things, the law requires local zoning regulations to
- Designate locations or zoning districts within the municipality in which accessory dwelling units are allowed, provided at least one accessory dwelling unit shall be allowed as of right on each lot that contains a single-family dwelling and no such access;
- Allow accessory dwelling units to be attached to or located within the proposed or existing principal dwelling, or detached from the proposed or existing principal dwelling;
- Set a maximum net floor area for an accessory dwelling unit of not less than thirty percent of the net floor area of the principal dwelling, or one thousand square feet, whichever is less;
“ADUs help to provide affordable housing for both the property owner as well as the tenant by allowing the owner to monetize their property by charging what is likely to be less than rent at an apartment building. Accessory dwelling units can also be used to house seniors and younger family members nearby which helps aging in place, retaining youth and preventing displacement,” Baker stated.
Norwalk’s ADU regulation dates to the mid-80s and “is not achieving its goal of providing additional rental housing given that we only have approximately 259 ADUs on the books,” Baker stated. However, staff recommends opting out for several reasons. For one, “the consensus seems to be that 30% of the floor area of the single-family residence or 700 square feet, whichever is less,” and that’s less than the State requires.
There are also concerns about the setbacks and the height, potential design review and a goal of requiring periodic permit renewals.
Baker wrote, “Although Staff finds that most of the requirements of PA 21-29 would be beneficial to Norwalk, some further minor restrictions are recommended which would ultimately require Norwalk to opt out of the legislation to enact.”
Instructions to attend the meeting are included on this agenda: