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South Norwalk TOD plan seeks to maintain diversity while spurring development

Former Mayor Bill Collins asserts that there is a need for more affordable housing in Norwalk, Thursday in City Hall.

Former Mayor Bill Collins asserts that there is a need for more affordable housing in Norwalk, Thursday in City Hall.

NORWALK, Conn. — Developments with 12 or more units would be required to devote 10 percent of their units to workforce housing, under the drafted South Norwalk Transit Oriented Development  (TOD) Redevelopment plan, now in a public hearing process.

That’s down from 20 units, Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan said last week, responding to the most consistent publicly voiced objection to the plan, months in the making.

The agency is accepting community input at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, in City Hall. This follows a Common Council Planning Committee public hearing last week, in which former Mayor Bill Collins voiced concern about keeping South Norwalkers in South Norwalk.

“I was impressed with the amount of effort that went into coordinating existing zoning and design elements into this new plan for a much broader area. It was something that I like to see… There is unfortunately, however, in my estimation, one very serious flaw in this plan and that has to do with housing,” Collins said.

The plan creates one coherent Zoning district, from Martin Luther King Drive to Water Street, with North Main Street and Haviland Streets as its northern borders and Lowe Street and Belle Avenue as its southern most end, with a diagonal cut between Mulvoy Street and Belle.

It deliberately leaves out the waterfront properties; Sheehan said that issue would be revisited later.

The 10-year plan, developed by RDA, the Cecil Group and FMX Associates, would encourage infill development, especially near the South Norwalk railroad station, and create a pedestrian friendly “park once” environment.

It specifically states that it wants to, “Encourage and maintain a diverse neighborhood that provides housing, employment, shops, services and restaurants that attract and support a wide range of cultures and incomes.”

This contradicts what Mike Mushak said Tuesday was a theme at a recent District B Democrats meeting: gentrification.

“It’s a fear and it’s a fear that the community has,” Mushak said.

Common Councilwoman Faye Bowman (D-District B) on Monday suggested that District B organize a group to speak at RDA’s public hearing.

“It’s very important that we come, that we bring folks out, just any public hearing there is,” she said. “We just want to make sure; there are zoning changes, implications for housing. You have a chance to comment on it. Sounds like, they are for more increased public housing, they are offering slightly taller buildings.”

The plan that is online does not list Zoning changes.

“The final zoning regulations for the TOD District will be incorporated as part of this Redevelopment Plan after the regulations have been approved by the Norwalk Zoning Commission,” the plan states.

This led to Sheehan correcting Collins on Tuesday.

Workforce housing regulations specify a $70,000 income limit, Collins said.

“A lot of people in Norwalk don’t make $70,000 and a lot of them live in the TOD area so the question that jumps to mind is what are we going to do to these people?” Collins said.

Zoning regulations on workforce housing apply to developments with 20 or more units and the plan lowers that to 16, Collins said, calling that “certainly progress” but not sufficient.

“The plan calls for 12 or more,” Sheehan said.

“If you are building 12 units of more you are required to have 10 percent affordable housing,” Emily Keyes Innes of The Cecil Group, project manager for the TOD plan, said later. “We have created a bonus structure for additional affordable housing in response to the comments… Tonight, we are continuing to review that bonus structure and make sure there is appropriate as it can be to keep that diversity of housing choices in this area.”

“The city’s workforce zoning regulation is run off the income compliance under the state statute… It is 80 percent of state median income but the calculation gets you to an income that is much lower than the $70,000,” Sheehan said.

State statute makes a one-bedroom apartment $1,300 a month but, “Is that truly affordable? That remains a question… but at the end of the day the income level you are talking about, just in fairness, is not the structure that the 8-30g (state statute) provides housing to,” Sheehan said.

“The issue with the plan is to try to provide as much housing opportunity,” Sheehan said. “We have provided incentives…. The plan tries to get to lower income numbers by providing development incentives. I do think that we have spent quite a bit of time trying to be sensitive to the economic diversity that exists in the area and trying to maintain the amount of existing affordable housing both that’s inherent in the area and that is actually restricted, and try to expand that into a greater number of units.”

Collins said there’s another technique in Zoning but it doesn’t get used – developers can pay money instead of building units.

“As I understand it it’s in the Zoning regulations but the way the formula is constructed almost never is that option taken up because obviously it’s more expensive for the developer to do that, or they would do it,” Collins said.

This would lead to 4-family housing buildings, or between four and 12, he said.

“It’s a little dicey to force the developer to build actual units. So it’s probably time to examine that formula and figure out what would be a proper formula to force even 4-family development and to put some money in the pot,” Collins said.

The fund could be used by non-profit developers, such as a church that had emailed him that day, to build those smaller apartment buildings, Collins said.
“We have completely not contemplated this fairly obvious technique that is used in other cities in this plan. I would urge our consultants perhaps to go back and scout around other cities that use this and see what they could come up with,” Collins said.

“We would agree with you on that,” Sheehan said, asserting it’s in the plan, although it’s not in the online version.

“Somehow we have to get it down onto a piece of paper that takes action,” Collins said. “This is not rocket science, it’s complicated but it’s not rocket science. We have great attorneys that could help with that, too.”

Overall, the plan looks good, Collins said.

“I have been wrestling with Zoning and development in this part of town for 35 years and this looks like way to rationalize it to me. But we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water and I think it’s a problem that can be solved among people with good will, and I see a room full of them,” Collins said.

Sheehan later said that with public housing as part of the TOD zone, a family earning $10,000 a year could live there as the rent standard is 30 percent of income.

Council President Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large) asked for a clarification.

“For many years we perhaps glibly said affordable housing was not affordable in Connecticut. Were we just not looking at it correctly? Or what changed?” Kimmel asked.

Sheehan said affordable housing is a very, very complex issue.

“It’s not as simple as saying, ‘OK, the median of the state is X and the regulation is 80 percent.’ Just taking 80 percent of that, that is not how the formula is done. I think the automatic assumption is $70,000,” Sheehan said.

“I would agree with Mike Mushak: The attraction to South Norwalk is its economic and cultural diversity,” Sheehan said. “That is what is changing the whole urban corridor, not just South Norwalk. That is the number one attraction to the area. It’s a competitive attraction to the more suburban development that has been approved by the Zoning Commission up at Glover Avenue. So I am big believer that mixed use multifamily housing should be advanced from a land use standpoint to the urban core as opposed to the more suburban areas of the city, but that is what it is. … If you are looking at markets, the attraction to the urban market is exactly what I said.”

The plan will be amended to reflect public comments before being approved by the Redevelopment Agency, Innes said. Then it will go to the Council for approval.

TOD Redevelopment Plan Draft for Public Comment 2.25.16

Some excerpts from the drafted South Norwalk TOD plan:

“With a population estimated at about 5,000, the TOD represents about 6% of Norwalk’s total population. The three areas are estimated to be growing at about the same rates, though South Norwalk experienced a considerably higher rate of growth, 5.6%, between 2000 and 2010 than did the City, 3.3%, or County, 3.9%.”

“The population of South Norwalk is considerably more diverse than that of Norwalk or Fairfield County. Less than half the population of South Norwalk identifies as white and approximately 23% as African American. Half the population is Hispanic or Latino. In contrast, 67% of the City and 73% of the County identify as white, while 14% and 11%, respectively, as African American. In Norwalk, 27% are His- panic or Latino; in Fairfield County, 18%.”

“The residents of South Norwalk spend slightly less time getting to work than residents of the City and County.”

“The proportion of households with incomes under $15,000 in South Norwalk is at least double that in Norwalk and Fairfield County.  More people rent than own in South Norwalk, while the reverse is true in the City and County. Lengths of residence by tenure, however, are comparable.”

“The South Norwalk TOD contains 6% of the City of Norwalk’s businesses and annual sales and 5% of its employees. The TOD has a significantly larger share of employment in the following industries:

  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting (69%)
  • Utilities (20%)
  • Transportation and warehousing (17%)
  • Public Administration (16%)
  • Information (14%)
  • Construction (13%)
  • Accommodation and food services (12%)
  • Retail trade/motor vehicles and parts (11%)
  • Retail trade/building materials and garden equipment and supplies (10%)

 

 

Goal: The neighborhoods around the Rail Station should be composed of a continuous and coherent pattern of pedestrian friendly and inviting streets, sidewalks and paths that line and connect blocks with complete and compatible development and land uses that create a cohesive and attractive environment in which to live, work, shop, visit and enjoy.

Strategies to achieve that goal:

 

  • Locate active retail, commercial and civic uses where they will be successful and contribute to the pedestrian environment.
  • Create inviting and active open space as part of the street network to provide regular occurrences of visual relief and opportunities for community interaction.
  • Expand the role of the Rail Station as a community resource and a place for social connections.
  • Extend neighborhood connections along key corridors to the Rail Station, featuring active uses and sidewalks that encourage community interaction.
  • Engage the South Norwalk artist community to create interesting and attractive public spaces that foster positive community interaction.
  • Fill empty lots and underutilized spaces with appropriate uses.
  • Connect neighborhoods to the Waterfront as an attraction for visitors and amenity for residents.

 

Goal: Invite and support development as a combination of new buildings and renovations that create a long-term, sustainable mixed-use pattern that contains a balanced quantity of housing, commercial, retail, civic and institutional uses, while protecting existing residents from displacement by adding housing appropriate for a range of income levels.

Strategies to achieve that goal:

 

  • Provide a balance of retail uses and services that reinforce the neighborhoods as great, convenient places to live and work.
  • Support development that offers jobs for people who can walk or bicycle to work.
  • Support commercial development that can take advantage of the proximity to the transit hub to reduce vehicle trips and gain competitive advantages.
  • Provide and support additional housing to expand the range of choices in terms of housing types and affordability. Affordable housing should be designed to look like market-rate housing.
  • Ensure that development efforts are accompanied by public outreach and neighborhood involvement.
  • Support development that does not displace neighborhood residents or businesses.

 

Goal: Shape the fabric of buildings, spaces, streets and places to create distinctive and complete urban neighborhoods that contain diverse but well-connected components.

Strategies to achieve that goal:

 

  • Ensure that retail corridors are lined with active, attractive uses and façades that reinforce the businesses located there.
  • Create a variety of different neighborhood environments with different scale and use patterns, ranging from low-scale residentially oriented areas, to active, multiple use concentrations that draw activity along the streets and sidewalks.
  • Protect and enhance valued historic structures through adaptive reuse and historic preservation.
  • Retain the traditional composition along blocks and streets where historic or traditional components remain substantially intact.
  • Where traditional patterns no longer exist, provide compositions that are reminiscent of the past to the extent that they create an emphasis on street frontage and street-facing orientation of buildings, and create a breakdown of horizontal and vertical components to create a variety of scales.
  • Focus circulation patterns along public rights-of-way or convenient and visible public easements through the siting of buildings, streets and paths.
  • Diminish or remove the visual impact of parking from public vantage points, except for on-street parking.

 

Goal: Encourage and maintain a diverse neighborhood that provides housing, employment, shops, services and restaurants that attract and support a wide range of cultures and incomes.

Strategies to achieve that goal:

 

  • Create pro-active tools and programs to preserve and encourage diversity through supporting and retaining affordable housing for existing residents and cultural groups for whom South Norwalk has been a home.
  • Promote and support multi-cultural businesses and institutions that are inherent components of diverse neighborhoods.
  • Expand the range of market-rate housing and types of units.
  • Provide an excellent living and neighborhood setting for all types of households and population types.
  • Retain a mixture of uses and building types to maintain and enhance the existing balance of diverse businesses, and people in South Norwalk.
  • Protect existing residents from displacement due to gentrification.

 

Goal: Enhance pedestrian and bicycle connectivity, while channeling and enabling vehicle circulation to be consistent with neighborhood quality and supporting the economic development goals for appropriate locations within the neighborhood.

Strategies to achieve that goal:

 

  • Provide adequate parking for each use within the district through shared parking.
  • Expand on-street parking as a practical resource for neighborhood uses.
  • Provide a continuous, safe, well-lit active network of sidewalks and pedestrian paths.
  • Create intersection and corridor designs and operational improvements to balance vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle circulation patterns so that every mode is safely and conveniently served.
  • Provide the neighborhoods and Rail Station with well-defined, safe routes, which connect with regional commuter and recreational bicycle networks.
  • Provide for bicycle facilities in locations that support short term, and overnight storage.
  • Avoid traffic congestion and speeds that negatively affect the desirability of living or working in the area.
  • Improve vehicular traffic circulation in the areas surrounding the Rail Station and the connections to regional systems.
  • Improve access and efficiency to and between multiple modes of transportation including pedestrian networks, bicycle networks, public bus and rail lines, taxi cabs and private automobiles.
  • Manage parking resources to eliminate future commuter parking outside of designated lots.
  • Remove pedestrian barriers due to physical design, land use patterns, or other issues.
  • Reduce or remove the impact of parking lots on the neighborhood.
  • Improve pedestrian and vehicular wayfinding signage in the neighborhoods surrounding the Rail Station.
  • Improve pedestrian accessibility to the Rail Station, through improved lighting and signage, and by reducing the grade approaching the station from the east.
  • Provide connections so that anyone can comfortably reach any destination from any other location within the area by foot or on bicycle.

 

Goal: Design with the pedestrian as the end-user.

Strategies to achieve that goal:

  • Bring curb ramps up to current ADA standards
  • Install a sidewalk on the west side of Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
  • Install sidewalks in the eastbound Rail Station area
  • Develop streetscape  improvement standards
  • Rebuild sidewalk and streetscape amenities on Monroe Street
  • Improve the quality of the sidewalk and streetscape network along Henry Street
  • Continue to work with SoNo Gardens to maintain and improve pedestrian access between Washington Street and the Rail Station
  • Stripe Crosswalks across all approaches to intersections
  • Develop a long-term plan for conversion of the abandoned railroad right-of-way to a shared-use path
  • Rebuild staircases connecting the Golden Hill Neighborhood to South Norwalk and improve pedestrian crossings at those locations
  • Ensure timely completion of State Project 102-337 to improve pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Water Street at Washington Street

 

Goal: Improve the quality of the user experience.

Strategies to achieve that goal:

 

  • Incorporate multimodal performance measures in evaluation of public and private projects
  • Provide real-time information for WHEELS buses
  • Provide an option to pre-purchase WHEELS tickets at the Rail Station
  • Improve the headway for WHEELS Route 10
  • Create a local urban spine circulator to support WHEELS service to connect transit to adjacent neighborhoods.
  • Reconfigure Route 10 to create two stops at the Rail Station
  • Provide route mapping and scheduling information at all bus stops in South Norwalk
  • Direct automobile traffic to Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
  • Create an on-street bicycle network in South Norwalk

 

Goal: Create a “Park Once” environment.

Strategies to achieve that goal:

 

  • Create and maintain well-lit corridors along streets linking parking facilities to the Rail Station
  • Reduce parking prices at underutilized parking areas

 

Goal: Improve station access on the east side for all modes.

Strategies to achieve that goal:

 

  • Redesign the Eastbound Rail Station to improve access and circulation in the short-to-medium term
  • Construct concrete sidewalks on both sides of the driveway to the Eastbound Rail Station
  • Install crosswalks at all pedestrian crossings at the Eastbound Rail Station
  • Create separated pick-up/drop-off areas for buses, private vehicles, and taxis
  • Reconfigure the driveway so that all taxis and private vehicles exit the Eastbound Rail Station via Monroe Street
  • Reconfigure the surface parking lot to separate exiting private vehicles from exiting buses
  • Redesign the Eastbound Rail Station as part of a public/private long term redevelopment effort

 

Goal: The neighborhoods around the Rail Station should be safe and secure environments for residents, commuters, business owners and visitors.

Strategies to achieve that goal:

 

  • Ensure all sidewalks and pedestrian paths are well-lit, safe and maintained.
  • Increase police access and visibility such as emergency call boxes, neighborhood satellite store- front offices, or increased patrols.
  • Ensure that retail corridors are lined with active, attractive uses, with various hours of operation.
  • Locate open space in areas of existing high activity and develop programs and activities to ensure their continuous use and connection with the community.

 

“The TOD District should be transformed into a district that is pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle friendly, with strong connections between the Rail Station and the surrounding neighborhoods,” the plan states. “Each new project or improvement should incrementally improve the pedestrian and bicycle network, thoughtfully integrate vehicular circulation and parking requirements, and enhance pedestrian crossings at critical intersections that provide direct connections to the Rail Station.”

13 comments

Non Partisan April 12, 2016 at 6:23 am

Holding a public hearing regarding the zoning regulations in the transit oriented district at 530pm is exclusionary to all those citizens that commute to NYC and work a 9-5 job.

Will another public hearing be called or will I have to leave work early today?

Mike Mushak April 12, 2016 at 7:49 am

Norwalk’s greatest strength is its economic and racial diversity. Thats why I live here. Development and change is coming to South Norwalk, no matter what anyone says at this point. This is part of the biggest demographic shift back to cities in generations. Folks of all incomes and abilities want to live in walkable neighborhoods near transit stops. That is the reality we are dealing with here.

So, we have a clear choice now. The development can happen like it is now, without a plan, following our obsolete and dysfunctional zoning code, and that will displace more folks and gentrify South Norwalk faster than you can say “Brooklyn”. Or, it can happen with a a plan, that encourages infill development while maintaining existing racial and economic diversity and preserving the local community. The latter is what the TOD plan does, and is why I strongly support it.

That said, our community of South Norwalk has every right to be wary of the Redevelopment Agency after decades of “urban removal” plans that wiped away the Webster St neighborhood where 50 Washington is now, the Reed-Putnam neighborhood where the mall is going now, and nearly wiped away the Washington St Historic District if it wasn’t for some last minute efforts by preservationists and local activists. The Agency unfortunately has a legacy it cant ignore, and that the community remembers.

However, decades of studies and evidence evidence have proven that concentrating affordable housing all in area is a bad idea, and those kinds of old-school planning mistakes of destroying communities in order to “save” them are now illegal under federal and state guidelines, as are building housing projects with concentrated poverty. That is why the proposed Washington Village plan (if it ever gets built at this point) mixes market rate with affordablke housing, and that is the model HUD uses now along with the Redevelopment Agency and professional planners.

At a recent District B meeting that I attended as a member, someone stood up and asked why there was no development along South Main and Woodward, and said the city was “ignoring” South Norwalk. Literally in the same sentence he said we cant have gentrification that pushes people out of Norwalk. I could not agree more.

This person didn’t realize that these strong emotions are not only valid and need respect, but they sum up exactly what the TOD plan will address: the need for development in South Norwalk that DOES NOT force anyone out, but that provides more housing choices and more businesses and employment opportunities for ALL of our residents.

Finally, part of the reason we have such high housing costs in our area is that Norwalk and Fairfield County have had chronic housing shortages for decades. It is basic supply and demand economics. By encouraging more housing that includes workforce housing, in affordable areas near transit where folks don’t necessarily have to own an expensive car to get around, we can help increase supply that in the long run will reduce housing costs for everyone.

The block I live on in South Norwalk, just a few blocks from the train station, is a model of economic and racial diversity with many housing choices, and what a stable 21st century urban neighborhood looks like. That is what the TOD plan accomplishes, and that is why it is the kind of smart planning our community needs to support.

Jlightfield April 12, 2016 at 9:04 am

The Common Council should stop delegating its responsibility for ensuring that planning is performed by the City’s planning department. The Redevelopment agency claims misleading public outreach events as examples of its “commun8ty” participation. In fact, the community was never consulted on what it collectively wants in these neighborhoods. There was no solicitation or survey it can point to, or provide that demonstrates an understanding of what development and amenities are needed.

Increasing the density of commercial properties near the train station is a good idea. Incentivizing the destruction of single family residences along Haviland, Elizabeth streets etc is a bad idea.

The common council should refer this plan back to the redevelopment agency until the agency can demonstrate it has a project manager and successful process that actually communicates to residents, businesses, property owners and other city departments.

A casual glance at its “community outreach” shows a compete lack of actual community outreach. The agency relies on no one paying attention or holding it accountable for this. A box is checked off despite lightly attended meetings mostly comprised of representatives hand picked by the agency. This is a failure of community participation. At any time they could send a survey by mail to every affected resident, but they choose not to. They could begin the process by asking what should the neighborhoods look like 30 years out, but they choose not too. Community engagement isn’t hard, we do it all the time as part of our process at Norwalk 2.0. Why doesn’t the Redevelopment Agency do it, especially when it claims it is the administrative arm of the City?

Brian April 12, 2016 at 9:40 am

Please NO more affordable housing. Why should someone pay a fraction of what everyone else who works hard pays be able to live in the same luxury building? I would love to live in Beverly Hills but I would never expect a home in a neighborhood that I can clearly not afford to allow me to live there for a fraction of what everyone else in the area is paying. It’s just not how things are supposed to work. Also, I knew someone that lived at The Waypointe and they moved out because many of low income occupants would be walking around the common areas barefoot, being extremely loud and inconsiderate to others and acted as though they had a sense of entitlement to live there, instead of being appreciative for the opportunity to live beyond their means.

Mrs. Ruby McPherson April 12, 2016 at 11:36 am

Believe me, it’s not that many living in Waypointe. And I know quite a few high paying income who loves going barefoot and also party hard and loud? Some people just talk loud. Passing that area you never see alot of people out. Living in that area, building with restaurant, bars etc what do you expect. Rules and Regulation if they can’t follow?

Mike Mushak April 12, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Jackie Lightfield was chair of the Zoning Commission for 6 years and had many opportunities to reform the broken planning process in Norwalk, including rewrite the broken zoning code for South Norwalk that currently discourages smart lower-scale residential infill development that is needed to stabilize neighborhoods and spur economic growth.

Sadly that reform did not happen then as many years were wasted, but it is happening now under new ZC leadership, and with the TOD plan and other initiatives including the Webster Lot by the Redevelopment Agency, and the Ely Avenue study spearheaded by David Westmoreland and the Historic Commission.

In the vacuum created by the dysfunctional Planning and Zoning Department from decades under the former director, with absolutely no staff accountability from Planning and Zoning Commission chairs despite what the charter and by-laws require, the Redevelopment Agency became the de facto professional Planning Agency in Norwalk, and still is.

Folks in South Norwalk want controlled development that preserves the existing community. That is what the TOD plan, conducted by a nationally recognized planning firm with many public meetings and outreach, provides.

Otherwise it’s a free-for-all determined by market forces only, and if you think that’s the best plan for South Norwalk, I have a rotating train bridge I’d like to sell you.

cc-rider April 12, 2016 at 1:42 pm

Why is the city’s blight ordinance not mentioned at all when discussing any new plans for the area? Wasn’t this SONO declared a slum recently by the Feds? What benefit would it be for any new development to happen and have neighboring property(s)be a disaster area?

Rick April 12, 2016 at 2:33 pm

outstanding article great comments on dysfunctional Planning and Zoning .For the folks who live in the area of illegal basement apartments are more common than sense made by the city over the years.Where does it mention Norwalks brown fields are increasing when the State inventory is shrinking. Why not waterfront parcels? Are they the most contaminated?

Take for instance the portable art deal thats working on Water st,still has the manifolds for extracting hazardous waste out of the ground for youngsters to play on.Contamination in that area is about 2 feet below surface when will that be cleaned up?This is progress this is safe to invite the public on a unsecured well field?

The city has allowed businesses that break nuisance laws in all areas to satisfy more pollution and less consideration of the residents who have for years put up with instances that are don’t support the quality of life.Dumpsters should of been put on our new branding posters.

Yes the city needs to grow but not at the cost of those who made the city grow over the years without city halls help.

Lets not forget those sites in the city that were never cleaned, up they were covered over and left to simmer. right now we are concealing hazardous sites by not addressing them,why is that?

Wouldn’t it be nice for a clean Norwalk before it gets all these new plans to save Norwalk.Im sure those younger taxpayers who move in and find they now live among sites with contamination will feel betrayed.No one in the city has lied no one has even talked about it but the facts are there but it doesn’t fit into the plans .Most of the dredging over the years produced highly contaminated dirt that had to be dumped into the sound runoff from the very same areas Norwalk wants to reclaim and build.Where are the pans to clean up areas that are to be developed on?

Those plans to dump more in the sound have met a road block the dirt is to toxic to dump in the sound now where will it go? The State has increased its monitoring all along the waterfront including shorefront park a surprise to those who live there.(hint something is leaking)

Back to the plans there must be documentation of all this and the Milk st office and cottage in rural Mass must know this I must go back and read what they found as red flags in South Norwalk for future development.Be interesting to hear Norwalks experts spew some environmental justice for those who live in the questionable areas of contamination.

Sitting on a shelf somewhere has been mentioned many times in Norwalk,Id like to see the size of this shelf it must be a big shelf and at this point in time with many studies.

EveT April 12, 2016 at 3:52 pm

@Jackie wrote “Community engagement isn’t hard, we do it all the time as part of our process at Norwalk 2.0.”
Where can interested citizens find announcements of public meetings Norwalk 2.0 is holding? I don’t think I have seen them in the paper. Who besides Ms. Lightfield is on the board of Norwalk 2.0? Who appoints them? Are they listed on the city website?
In other words, where is the Norwalk 2.0 community engagement?

Non Partisan April 12, 2016 at 9:44 pm

South Norwalk has a lot of underutilized and empty land.

Much of this land sits vacant even with development all around it, historically low interest rates, and high demand.

Any proposed zoning revision that requires greater subsidized housing and denser population in favor of best economic use comes at the expense of all other Norwalk Taxpayers who directly or indirectly will subsifize the residents of South Norwalk

At some point there will be more low and moderate income in this city than the balance of TAXPAYERS can afford. To subsidize. What is the correct balance? Are we approaching or passed the tipping point?

Jlightfield April 13, 2016 at 2:04 am

@mushak you are incorrect on many zoning issues: such as I chaired zoning for 3 years, I worked with the entire commission to pass zoning regulations that improve many areas in Norwalk including South Norwalk. You assessment of RDA is incorrect as it does not do planning for the city but merely covers a geographic area that it is obligated to increase the tax revenue of the properties it has “jurisdiction” over. But those are nits really, since you can’t ever seem to understand how it is that the zoning commission itself sets policy and that requires consensus and compromise of a majority.

@eveT Norwalk 2.0 has a website where we list ongoing community outreach surveys, past projects, and our board members. I’m not sure why you would expect to see our meetings in the newspaper or on the city website. We somehow manage to communicate live and in person, online, and convene people for issues and projects that we are engaged in. It really isn’t that hard to do, and something that a city municipal department, or one acting on its behalf should be able to do. Norwalk 2.0 is neither a municipal department, nor do we act on behalf of the City.

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