Wilton facing lack of affordable housing; grants sought

WILTON – The Economic Development Committee is looking at a list of possibilities for improvements, but a lack of affordable housing is one of the main problems with achieving some things on the list.

Chairman Jennifer Beck presented her quarterly update to the Select Board on Monday.

“We want to keep Wilton’s small town atmosphere,” she said, noting that “stabilizing the tax rate is a priority.”

They are looking into grants for completing the Riverwalk and an upgrade to Memorial Park, she said, taking a closer look at development along Route 101, “and making Wilton a destination.”

The return of the Scenic Railroad is high on that list. “The Department of Transportation has not said no,” she said, but they don’t have any money. Railroad owner Peter Leischman has completed much the preliminary work and is looking for partners.

Affordable housing is also a key, and one suggestion is the creation of “agra-hoods,” which she described as a combination of housing developments with a CSA,” keeping land open, in agricultural production, and providing small housing units.”

Her committee will be discussing regulation changes along 101 with the planning board, loosening some of the restrictions that have been slowing or preventing development.

In other business Police Sgt. Elizabeth Siekman was sworn in by Town Clerk Jane Farrell. She has been with the department for about a year and previously served in Milford.

The board reduced building fees for Habitat for Humanity’s new house on Pleasant Street to $100.

Executive Director Scott Slattery said the project is “coming along well.” Site work, including the removal of a granite ledge, was done by local contractor Ken Rocca. “We apologize to the neighbors for (the noise and early start) of the rock crusher.”

“We are close to announcing the person who will live there,” Slattery said, a Wilton single mother with two children.

Residents are invited to stop by and see what has so far been accomplished.

The fence has been moved from the reservoir to the recycling center, but not yet put in place. Chairman Kermit Williams said, “the pond looks great,” and suggested a lock be placed on the gate to the dam. “Keys would be given to the highway, police and fire departments, as with other closed area.

Several said, “We just use bolt cutters. It’s quicker.”

Board member Matt Fish said progress is being made on tracking impact and off-site improvement fees, creating a spread sheet and a manual.

The Select Board will hold a work session on April 29.