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.
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.”