Police Headquarters Project Section 8-30g Cannondale Area Multi-Family Proposal and More!
Wilton First Selectwoman Update, Lynne A Vanderslice
A significant number of hard-hitting topics were discussed in February. Some of them will continue until March.
Budget proposed by the Board of Selectmen (BOS) for the financial year 2023
Last week, the BOS approved a proposal FY2023 budget of $33.9 million. The proposed budget represents an increase of 0.33% over the pre-pandemic budget for fiscal year 2020 or a three-year average increase of 0.13%. During this period, employees received general wage increases ranging from 2% to 2.75%. We have adopted changes that significantly offset these wage increases and other costs. The Board of Finance (BOF) will hold a public hearing on the proposed BOS budget on March 24and and a hearing at the Board of Education on March 23rd. City budget documents and key dates can be found here.
Police department staff
As part of our budget discussions, Chief of Police John Lynch provided the BOS with a detailed presentation on police staffing, including a rationale for the current number of sworn officers. You can watch Chef Lynch present here. His presentation is here. Details of the 11,456 incidents handled in 2021 and the average number of hours needed to respond to each type of incident are available here.
Police Headquarters Project
In early February, Tecton Architects presented the proposed final design and estimated cost of the proposed new police headquarters to be built on the City Hall campus. You can look here from 32:00 p.m. Their presentation is here. The expected cost of the new building is $16.7 million, of which $16 million will be requested for bonding at the annual municipal meeting in May. Additional public tours will take place in March and April. Key points to consider:
- The need for a new police headquarters was identified over 20 years ago.
- Other projects, including renovations to the Comstock Community Center and Miller Driscoll School, new and updated recreation facilities and citywide road paving, were prioritized ahead of headquarters. of policing over these 20 plus years.
- The building infrastructure is 48 years old. The HVAC system is about to fail. The electrical system is not designed for today’s technological needs and needs to be upgraded. The building is not ADA compliant. The building was designed for an all-male police force. The building is heavily overcrowded.
- The process that led to this proposal began in December 2016 with the appointment of a Citizen Review Committee, which grew to a citizen building committee, supported by professionals. The two committees, co-chaired by Dave Waters and Patti Temple, considered alternate locations and renovation plus addition versus building new. The Committee’s project website is here.
- In early 2020, the construction committee recommended a new building at an estimated cost of $14.5 million. The pandemic has put the project on hold. Two years of cost escalation plus pandemic escalation brought the cost to $17.4 million. Value engineering brought the cost down to today’s $16.7 million.
ARPA and Infrastructure Fund Spending Priorities
The Board of Selectmen heard applications for project funding from the US Rescue Plan (ARPA) grant and the $1.5 million BOS infrastructure fund. Last week we received requests from Director of Environmental Affairs Mike Conklin and the Conservation Commission for funding, among other things, for the construction of a parking lot and playground at Schencks and funds for improving trails and repaving the Quarry Head access road. The entire application is available here.
March 7andDirector of Parks and Recreation Steve Pierce and the Parks and Recreation Commission will present their demands.
March 21thst, Facilities Manager Chris Burney will present recommendations for city-owned buildings, such as replacing the pillars and front steps of City Hall. At the same meeting, DPW Director and City Engineer Frank Smeriglio will present findings and recommendations for improving the drainage system at the Wilton High School complex.
Section 8-30g Multifamily Proposal for Cannondale Area
The City received a developer’s plan to build a 70-unit apartment building on just over 2 acres opposite Cannondale Station at 19 Cannon Road. The developer plans to take advantage of CT 8-30g, which allows the developer to be exempt from most Wilton zoning regulations if 30% of the units are affordable, as defined by law. The promoter wishes to extend the mains drainage from RT 7 to the property. As required by state regulations, last Thursday the Water Pollution Control Authority, of which I am chairman, referred the question of whether the sewer extension application is conforms to the city’s conservation and development plan at the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z). By law, P&Z is required to respond within 35 days.
Proposals for Mandatory Zoning Changes
On Friday, DesegregateCT reported that the state legislature’s Planning and Development Committee voted to draft a community bill focused on public transit. DesegregateCT pleads for a proposal allowing 15 housing units per acre as of right within a 10-minute walk of a train station and requiring 10% of units to be affordable. The proposal is inspired by a Massachusetts invoice passed a year ago requiring communities in Massachusetts with access to public transit provided by the (MBTA) to change their zoning to allow 15 units per acre in a 50 acre district within 0.5 miles of a transit.
This single solution ignores the difference between Cannondale with infrequent train service and no adjacent services versus stations along the Metro North Main Line with frequent train service and adjacent services.
It is becoming increasingly important for residents to understand the role the CT Legislature plays in zoning and local development.