Plan for new shopping center passes first hurdle
WILTON — The Wilton Heights development proposed for a critical juncture on Danbury Road has cleared its first hurdle.
The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved two of the four pending applications submitted on behalf of the mixed-use development last week.
The first application permitted three Whitewood Lane properties, located at the rear of the parcel, to shift from residential zoning to the Wilton Center District designation.
The second application amended the text in the town’s zoning regulation to allow developers to exceed current height and setback restrictions for Wilton Center zoning, under special circumstances.
Paxton Kinol, the developer behind Wilton Heights, called the decision a step in the right direction after months of deliberation.
“It shows that the town is largely in favor of what we are doing, and the fact that the decision was unanimous is really important,” Kinol said.
“It sends a signal to the other commissions in town that this is something that the town wants.”
The Wilton Heights development will next need to have its site plan and special permit applications approved.
The applications, which have been pending since May, have been tabled until the Inland and Wetlands Commission decides whether to permit the redevelopment of the existing Crossways Plaza properties within wetland territories.
The application has undergone months of debate before the commission, and is still being scrutinized by commissioners.
Commissioner Elizabeth Craig has argued the proposal would intrude on the existing 100-foot buffer that protects the wetlands and that potential blasting on site could cause cracks in the vulnerable land.
Kinol and his team, on the other hand, have argued that any changes made to the Crossways Plaza would be an improvement, as they would need to remediate the property, which includes removing septic fields that drain into the Norwalk River as well as other environmental improvements.
Initial plans for the Wilton Heights development include five to 10 retail locations on the ground floor, which would then be topped by approximately 74 residential units. All of the units would be located within 1,000 feet of the train station, which would make walking back and forth easier for potential residents and shoppers.
The proposal features more than 3 acres of wooded upland and wetland areas that would be deed-restricted from future development. These lands would also provide a buffer from neighbors to the east and south, similar to what exists currently.
If accepted as is, the developer would also hide more than two-thirds of the residential homes from view, with only 22 units facing Danbury Road.
While the timetable for decisions from Inland Wetlands and Planning and Zoning is still unclear, Kinol said he hopes the development could move along as expediently as possible.
“We started this process last September and we thought it would be finished by this September. But the zone change shows that the town is willing to work with us and we’re committed to making this work,” Kinol said.
A rendering of the proposed Wilton Heights development, a residential-retail development, that would be built on 7.56 acres of land at the Crossways Plaza, 300 Danbury Road, and on adjacent properties on Whitewood Lane.