If you have attended the City meetings regarding Planning and Zoning you are likely feeling upset, disappointed and confused about the direction of Norwalk and what your neighborhood could look like given the proposed updates/changes.
These Planning and Zoning proposals will have profound effects on our community, taxpayers and residents. I have pointed out before that while I am favorable to the idea of transit oriented development, it is clear to me, meeting after meeting, that the discussions of development that have been taking place are far beyond transit oriented development.
The biggest transformation is discussion of moving single-family neighborhoods into two-family zoning further satisfying the administration’s desire to increase density. Imagine working and saving to purchase a home in a single-family neighborhood only to have your City come in and change the zoning regulations?
District B, C and E need to pay attention and voice their opinions now. This proposed update will only exacerbate the street parking issues, traffic, emergency vehicle access, financial strain on our school system and overall infrastructure. Also, one thing noted this updated zoning plan does not include plans for one side of Water Street. Why? This concerns me as that area is vital and an important piece of Norwalk’s water harbor view. The outline for that area in the written plan is slated “to be determined.” How can such a comprehensive plan be put forth and then not include intentions for such a valuable area of Norwalk? We should not allow for major changes to zoning regulations to push forward without knowing every detail subject to change.
I would support a plan to explore ways to have no new building permits pushed forward until the infrastructure research and plans are fully completed and paid for. I think this is the only way to protect neighborhoods and make certain that time is allowed and that residents have a fair opportunity to express their concerns regarding projects and demand the proper research and thought process behind these developments.
Another concern is height and density. It can be increased for “some” commercial and mixed-use zones. The most deceptive part of this is a loophole that allows developers to over build if they add environmentally conscious amenities and solar panels. These environmental aspects of constructing a new building should be requirements, not voluntary, and used as a loophole to overbuild. When we are building any structures, environmental concerns should come first.
The goal for Norwalk should be to transform and rebuild our urban areas with the promise to maintain the character of our neighborhoods but these proposals do not mirror that. I believe that affordable housing, home ownership and sustaining what we have is the gateway to Norwalk’s growth. As a lifelong resident and business owner, I will always support families and residents that want to live, work, play and be a part of a community that we can all be proud to call home. If we proceed in this direction we will drive out the middle class and the individuals who are struggling to pay fair rent and work towards owning a home in a diverse and cultured city. What has always separated Norwalk from other surrounding towns is its diversity. However, if we keep building apartments that only minutely financially welcome lower income working class families trying to build roots here then are we really accomplishing our goals to grow?
These zoning changes are not appealing to residents of several neighborhoods and these zoning proposals push DENSITY not growth. The zoning proposals seem to bring a smile to the developers but panic to the residents.
Let’s focus on the residents and the improvements that need to be made. Quality of life is what makes a city grow, not buildings.
Mayoral Candidate for Norwalk