P&Z Commission gives BLT partial go-ahead on plan for 1,300 apartments on Glover Avenue

A rendering of the proposed Glover Avenue master plan put forth by BLT (Building and Land Technology.)

NORWALK, Conn. — The Norwalk Planning and Zoning Commission advanced a Stamford developer’s plan for 1,290 apartments in seven buildings on Glover Avenue.

P&Z members on Wednesday approved a text amendment and a map change that make BLT’s proposed master plan possible, but plan to vote on BLT’s special permit application by mid-July.

“This is an incredibly complicated process,” Commissioner Richard Roina said. “And I think by making this its own district, with the ability to vote on each individual phase as it comes up, each one being tied to improved infrastructure, is the best that we could do for the city of Norwalk, the best that we could do for the residents surrounding it. And I just hope that everybody will realize at some point that it’s a win-win situation.”

BLT’s “North 7” master plan calls for seven building on the western side of Glover Avenue, from five to 15 stories tall. It would include about 55,000 square feet of retail space if completed, with stores and services tailored for the street’s apartment dwellers in the transit-oriented district.

The Danbury line train station under construction on Glover Avenue.

Phase I, three buildings with about 500 apartments directly across the street from the Glover Avenue train station, would be built “relatively immediately,” according to BLT (Building and Land Technology) General Counsel David Waters. Phases II and III hinge upon major traffic improvements under consideration by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT).

If the Commission approves the special permit for the master plan, BLT would still need to go through site plan review for its individual buildings, Planning and Zoning Director Steven Kleppin said.

“The Commission still has the ability to require a public hearing as part of that application, authorize peer review of the traffic, because then these are big developments, regardless of whether they’re done as a whole or done in phases,” Kleppin said. “And also peer review of the architecture and design.”

Design standards have been developed, Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Lou Schulman said.

“I think if this project can adhere to those design standards. It will be a project that whether it’s the first stage or the third stage, that not only we will be proud of, but that BLT would be proud of as well,” Schulman said.

The Commission voted unanimously to approve the text amendment, to allow a master plan as a special permit use, and the map change, which consolidates zones in the area.

Roina said he’d visited Glover Avenue two or three times and was impressed that BLT’s apartment complex, The Curb, really does looks like architectural rendering, in that there are people walking dogs and riding bicycles.

Every Commissioner read the letters that came in, responding to the application, he said.

“The infrastructure there is done,” he said. “And I would have to believe that the construction that’s going to continue over the next six or seven or eight or nine years is not going to be as intrusive as it was when the road was dug up and the sewer was put in, the water lines were put in.”

Planning and Zoning Commission Tammy Langalis said she took the neighboring condominium residents’ concerns “very seriously.”

“I don’t think that we all can appreciate having seven years of construction in a very close proximity to where we might live,” she said. “You know, if you live in a single-family neighborhood, you have one house occasionally here and there. It’s disruptive enough but to have this going on, over the course of many years, I think is very disruptive. And I think some I don’t know what we can do to help those people but I think it’s important.”

The traffic on Grist Mill Road is “bad now” but if the “Route Seven Connector quagmire” isn’t fixed, “it’s just going to be worse,” she said.

ASML recently announced an intention to expand its nearby business and add 1,000 employees, she said.

“The City and the State, and I think BLT, all need to work together to make those intersections more friendly” to people in cars as well as pedestrians and cyclists, she said. “I think people have good intentions. But I think the city really needs to hold the developer responsible… I will vote yes, but I have some reservations.”

Schulman said that when BLT first presented its plan in 2020, he felt “it looked like a wonderful and exciting opportunity. And it also scared the heck out of me.”

He said, “I don’t think that I’ve changed my mind about that. I think this potentially holds great promise for the city. But it absolutely needs to be done the right way.”


Tysen Canevari June 17, 2022 at 5:35 am

Its really sad that Norwalk is like monopoly and the wizard of oz all at the same time. We take the open space and instead of hotels we build huge apartment buildings and hope you land on them. Harry is the wizard behind the curtain cutting the deals and he has his council (the big flying monkeys and soldiers and chief of staff on the broom stick) who rubber stamp his work! Maybe we should just build apartments at Vets park, Cranbury Park, and Taylor Farm next. Tammy Langalis reluctantly voted yes. Should that comfort us? Do you want Harry to put you in a time out Tammy? How dare you. Harry should change the name of his boat to The Wizard Of Oz. Certainly seems more appropriate.

Niz June 17, 2022 at 6:42 am

BLT owner us a mean, stressed person. Whoever is going to have to deal with thin, Get ready for a very difficult time. As for the effect on traffic & quality of environment & life in that area, not looking too good either.

in East Norwalk, road work, shifting lanes, bridge work with up and coming multi units and DOT projects East Ave is horrible!
Cops stand with their backs ti the road and don’t direct traffic at all. I assume coos are their for the workers.
No notices are residents home about road closures either. A heads up is important.

DryAsABone June 17, 2022 at 7:55 am

Good luck. See the South End of Scamford for a peak at your future. Note the structural failures in several BLT projects.

David Muccigrosso June 17, 2022 at 7:56 am

My biggest concern about this project is this:

Say what you want about the much-hated SoNo high-rises, but at least they put the density where the services are: next to the train station, within walking distance to Washington, etc.

There are basically NO services along that portion of 7 and Main. The people who are complaining about the Grist Mill Rd. traffic may be generally wrong in their knee-jerk NIMBYism, but they’re absolutely correct about their specific complaint.

Look, I may be an advocate for slow growth a la the Strong Towns (www.strongtowns.org) model, but even *I* have to admit that our housing crisis is so deep that there’s a lot of catch-up growth that needs to be made, and these high-rises CAN be an effective component of helping the Strong Towns model get us there in terms of the sheer numbers — although I can’t NOT point out that this is NOT what Harry and co. are doing in SoNo.

But even if we WERE using these high-rises to make up sheer numbers, they’re in absolutely the wrong place. In fact, I couldn’t think of a better place to plop them that would annoy the everliving bejeezus out of normie suburbanite single-family homeowners who might otherwise be persuaded to let the “urban core” of SoNo do its own thing as long as it didn’t directly bother them.

This is insanely bad coalition-building, and that’s the key that should tip you off: Harry and co. don’t actually CARE about coalition-building. They just want to keep their machine humming along.

DrewT June 17, 2022 at 9:37 am

How to destroy a city! Brought to you by..The Riling Administration and The City of Norwalk where people and communities come last.

Johnny cardamone June 17, 2022 at 9:59 am

On the one hand I agree with the TOD approach to building around the train stops what’s Glover Avenue does have on the other hand while this urgency just build ?! is the end of the world coming?

John O'Neill June 17, 2022 at 11:14 am

This Committee is not abiding by what the vast majority of Norwalkers want. Are they telling us we’re not as smart as they are? Voters are sick and tired of being told we’re not that smart. This arrogance needs to be addressed before our city is screwed. I’m baffled by this.

Piberman June 17, 2022 at 12:21 pm

Our zoning commission again demonstrates we get the governance we deserve. The ensuing traffic nightmares at the Route 7 intersection are far from City Hall. After subjecting Downtown to a plague of apartment buildings City Hall has focused on the northern reaches of the City. What’s the next target for Developers seeking to making a bundle in our “renter’s City” ?

Audrey Cozzarin June 17, 2022 at 1:03 pm

This is a win-win for the real estate firm and developers who have figured out nationwide how to commodify and game the system with a basic human need: Shelter.

Just what Norwalk needs, more apartments and traffic which naturally results when smart growth is not fully planned.

Scares the heck out of me, too.

CT-Patriot June 17, 2022 at 7:46 pm

It’s nothing more than Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing. Plain and simple.

No longer will residence see their dream of a white picket fence and yard, no ..we need dense housing and mass transit.

If Norwalk want government money, they need to build out AFFH housing.

And Biden is reinstalling it. Isn’t it just lovely?

steve June 18, 2022 at 7:54 am

do people really expect 3br 2ba capes on a 1/4 acre w/white picket fences between the connector, train tracks and Main Street? Again we here the usual nabobs arguing taxes are too high, the City’s falling apart, no one wants to live here anymore because it’s too crowded. Tiresome to say the least. David M. makes some good points but the others are the same ones who argue we need a new school—but not that new school, we need growth-but not that growth, we need…..but….etc. etc…etc.. and BTW Bob Duff’s dog stuck it’s head out the window. Be a weaver not a ripper

Patrick Cooper June 18, 2022 at 12:15 pm

Ok, big picture – there is a housing shortage. So, they say. Perhaps better put, there is a shortage of “affordable” housing based on the prevailing wages paid today. In CT, we know residential AAA zoned space is limited. We also know commercial properties (with few exceptions) are taking a valuation beating (work from home – who needs the space? & will that last?), retail space is bloated, and increasingly unnecessary with the growth of on-line. So, what does that leave developers to develop?

If there is a “housing shortage” – would you not expect it would center around areas where – people work? Where there are jobs. Good jobs – not “service” jobs. Does that seem at all logical? Our largest employer in Norwalk is – Norwalk.

The city of Norwalk has added virtually net-zero jobs under Harry. Please don’t say – mall. Neither he, nor Duff, nor any of our representatives do anything to make Norwalk attractive to mid-sized business owners, or corporations. Small business – how about “Let Byron bake”? Harry the cop? How would he have a clue? ASML? Blind squirrel found a nut. (Wilton, BTW).

Looking at larger macro-economic – aka: “Fairfield County” – where are the jobs? So ask yourselves, why is it that Norwalk alone is the bullseye for developers to build massive housing projects? All apartments. Not Condo’s – where owner can build equity. Nope – apartments, where only the developer makes money. Under Harry – what – 15,000 units? 25,000? For – what employer? For whom? When Diageo departed and took their 400 jobs to NYC, Bob and Harry said – “we can’t compete”. Well, they sure think we can compete for housing. That’s the rub – all the TOD development is for “commuter’s”. How many have done it? Trust me – when you lose 3hrs a day plus the travel costs – you eventually move closer to the job, or you find a different job closer to where you live (again, if there are any).

We are surrounded by Darien, New Canaan, Wilton, Weston, and Westport. Does anyone – seriously – think any of these towns would entertain this kind of development? Would they change the zoning to suit them? Would they say – this is a “win” for the residents? (Explain how – I’m all ears). No, never. Because those towns value the input of their residents – NIMBY they may be. But in Norwalk? WE do not matter. Why Norwalk? Because our elected representatives not only allow it, they push for it. Grand List growth. How else will Harry pay for all the baked in raises and benefits for the layers upon layers of municipal union workers?

As for “affordable” – are these apartments – that? How about this – if your new graduate happens on an “entry level” associate position, making a $60,000 annual salary, the rent proposed for these 1-bedrooms would represent almost 50% of their take-home pay. Zero chance at savings, likely hood for debt – high. Now you may understand why 2-4 unrelated people chose to share living space meant for 1. Oh, and that’s likely 4 vehicles for 1 spot. Anyone notice how the side streets in Norwalk have vehicles lining them, even with 4 in the driveway? The census is a lie. No – Jr. is going to be living at home, or in a “frat” house. Therefore the “incremental growth @David Muccigrosso has suggested has real merit – but as he laments – no one will listen. Ask, why?

The trajectory of this unfettered “build as large as possible” anywhere and everywhere in Norwalk will continue unabated as long as the residents keep voting in Harry – and the RTC puts forth opposition candidates as desirable and articulate as 3-week-old guacamole. They should run a bowl of oatmeal. Same personality – same chance.

It is over, Norwalk. You sold out your city for loyalty to a party that has no interest in your quality of life, no interest in your input or opinions (new distraction: dog & pony shows for feel good theater), or any shred of common sense. Wait until they build 30 story apartments on the property where Rex Marine stands today.

Harry will go down as the single most consequential mayor in the history of the city. He sold us out – and he has his reasons, and his enablers – including the current leadership of the RTC. His organizational hydra is now baked into every agency, committee, board, and commission that precedes over the smallest decisions affecting the city. It will take 10 years to weed them out.

Norwalk – stop complaining. Accept your personal responsibility – you did this to us. You didn’t pay attention, you were duped by party politics, you believed there were “good” and “bad” guys, and many of you didn’t even participate. It is easy to despise Harry for what he has done, and all that he stands for. But the real culprit – the real ownership for this colossal reimagination of what we wanted for a city – belongs to – all of us. We voted for it (not me). So – Own it.

So, there it is. Elections have consequences. Learn it yet? The state races this fall are already over. So, when come November 2023 – what are you going to do about it? My guess is – nothing, and the same.

Roger Shields June 18, 2022 at 1:10 pm

I would like P&Z to consider that a 15 story tall building located on this property with a base elevation of 160 ft would likely be visible from New Cannan, Wilton and Long Island Sound. The building located at 901 Main Ave. is 146 ft. tall on a base elevation of 130 ft. and is not visible above the tree lines. What does another 40 ft of total elevation mean for the visual appearance for the rest of Norwalkers.

Ben Hanpeter June 19, 2022 at 12:47 am

Looks like we’ve got double the number of people complaining in the comments as we did people who spoke during the public hearing. Given that P&Z is (rightly) focused on building more housing and increasing density, I don’t how big a backlash it would take to stop a development in its tracks, but the 7 people who spoke in opposition aren’t gonna cut it. This comments section is not a venue that will affect anything. If you really feel that strongly about it, show up and speak your mind.

Not to say I don’t disagree with pretty much everyone here. This development will bring much needed housing to Norwalk, and is ideally located next to the Merritt 7 station. Yes, there are a lot of infrastructure improvements that need to be made before phases 2 and 3 can be built, but the master plan is sound. It will really be contingent on how well the development can be integrated into the surrounding neighborhoods. Cutting the lanes on Main Ave in half, such that it can actually be navigated w/o a car, and completing the NRVT, will both be a great start.

Patrick makes a very interesting point about all the towns around Norwalk, and how they don’t build any housing like this. He’s absolutely right that this is the case, and it highlights why there unfortunately needs to be stronger state laws governing housing. We need all towns and cities to be building more housing to cut down on the vast deficit we currently have. Norwalk is doing right thing of its own volition, but the NIMBYs in Darien, New Canaan, Westport, and Wilton are going to have to be told to build new housing, unfortunately. I think the benefits of denser, walkable neighborhoods speak for themselves, but if wealthy homeowners are going to block the building of new construction such that anyone who doesn’t make 6 figures is rent burdened by default, there needs to be an intervention.

CT-Patriot June 19, 2022 at 8:14 am

Once P&Z can enforce the numerous illegal apartments in the city and some of the other illegal buildouts then maybe can listen to this pitch for additional “housing” which really just more esoteric living quarters for those who communicate to NYC and just need space to call their own with no real community involvement.

You have to give the neighboring towns respect for keeping them quaint and in some cases historic.

It’s time to demand the P&Z to investigate the city’s current dilemma on illegal apartments, buildings, commercial lots etc before we allow more buildings that just do not fit the character of Norwalk.

David Muccigrosso June 19, 2022 at 6:52 pm

@Ben: If you’ve been to the Merritt 7 area, you’d know that it’s absolutely not walkable. There are no services that residents can walk to. It’s a “people warehouse”. And neither are the surrounding neighborhoods walkable! It’s a bunch of DSFH.

The place to build is SoNo, which Harry’s *been* doing, but the speculation and corruption are so absurdly devastating that the construction here is just building fake capacity. The commuters will eventually dry up, and we’ll just have big empty towers sitting there rotting until some management outfit ends up buying them and turning them into slums.

Adam Blank June 20, 2022 at 11:34 am

@ Ben and @ Patrick – Wilton recently approved the old Melissa and Doug site for 175 units of apartments and there are a number of other 200+ unit projects in the works in Wilton. Darien has Corbin under construction which is mixed use with 100+ units of apartments. Lots of large multifamily projects are being proposed and/or developed around us – New Canaan, Darien, Westport, Wilton, Fairfield, Trumbull (admittedly, not so sure Weston is doing any).

David Muccigrosso June 21, 2022 at 2:06 pm

Yep, because something read at 5:47AM on a Tuesday morning is definitely going to be coherent and not paranoid political nonsense.

Lisa Brinton June 21, 2022 at 4:27 pm

Adam, I respect you allot, but to compare the countless Stalingrad fortress apartment complexes that do nothing for the street scape in Norwalk with the begrudgingly small projects (being fought btw) by our neighboring towns is disingenuous. Our city is run out of Hartford these days, courtesy of an ambitious state senator and compromised mayor and ambivalent voters (when only 14,000/59,000 eligible voters engage in municipal elections. Hartford wants bodies – any bodies for sales and income taxes, though they are a bit vague on where the jobs are – as they are certainly not in Norwalk. How Norwalk funds its schools, cleans its parks or paves its streets is not Hartford’s problem.

John O'Neill June 22, 2022 at 10:29 am

@Lisa — Your point is right on. Suburban towns are doing just enough for progressives in those towns to sleep at night. The reality is they welcome diversity in their kitchens and lawns, but not their schools or beaches. Cities like Norwalk are suppose to deal the heavy lifting with monstrosities like proposed Glover Avenue plans.

David Muccigrosso June 23, 2022 at 10:05 am

@John – That would be a wonderful theory if Glover Ave was at all intended to cater to the same demographic that Norwalk is doing “the heavy lifting” to accommodate.

Instead, as Lisa has pointed out in past campaigns, Norwalk’s minorities are shunted into what are effectively slums.

What would REALLY help is to upzone all of South Norwalk down to Rowayton by one increment. Allow ADUs and other additions to be built, and step up enforcement of existing regulations. This would alleviate the crowded slum conditions and relieve pressure on rents.

Of course, everyone’s too busy fighting over new development, waging their tribal warfare, and quixotically hating on renters to bother doing something so sanely beneficial to our fellow Norwalkers.

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