(Norwalk, CT) – Today, May 18, 2023, Mayor Rilling released the following statement regarding his feedback on the draft of a citywide zoning rewrite proposal. The draft was completed by Town Planning and Urban Design (TPUDC), a consultant hired by the Planning and Zoning Department to help establish a comprehensive zoning rewrite proposal for the Planning and Zoning Commission’s consideration and potential adoption.
The 2019 Citywide Plan of Conservation & Development (POCD) recommended that the City complete a comprehensive rewrite of its zoning code. This need was identified because the current code is outdated, hard to understand and, most importantly, not in line with modern best practices. TPUDC began the rewrite process in 2021. Last month, TPUDC released their draft recommendations. The City has since hosted a series of neighborhood-based public meetings to gather the community’s feedback on the consultant’s draft.
“As many may already be aware, Norwalk’s zoning regulations haven’t had a comprehensive update in nearly forty years – and as a community changes in makeup or size, it is critical that comprehensive zoning plans evolve too.
Upfront, I want to be perfectly clear that I am uncomfortable with some of the recommendations and disagree with the level of density being proposed. In particular, I am concerned about where some single-family areas are being proposed as two-family and where some multifamily zones are more prominent across the City. I understand the need for updated zoning regulations to help us achieve our goals in housing affordability and being a city welcoming to businesses and new residents, but I feel some of the recommendations proposed are too much, too fast. This has caused many residents to be concerned, including several community groups across the City. I assure you that we hear and share your concerns, and I’m confident that the Planning and Zoning Commission will continue to listen to the community’s comments and recommendations.
We need to strike the right balance. It’s critical that the new zoning regulations set our community up for a future that helps ensure everyone who grew up in Norwalk and wants to stay in Norwalk has access to proper housing that they can afford. Creating a modernized zoning code aims to help make housing affordable and expand green space and amenities for all our residents. Simultaneously, our zoning rewrite must preserve and maintain the look and feel of what has always made Norwalk so special.
I encourage more residents to come to the Planning and Zoning Commission’s upcoming public hearing meetings on June 21 and June 28 at 6:00 PM so we can continue to hear from and best understand how residents feel about the direction of our citywide zoning rewrite. The Planning and Zoning Commission will continue to collect the community’s feedback through the summer and isn’t planning to vote on the zoning rewrite until the fall.
Thank you to everyone in the community who has already attended one of our neighborhood-based public meetings. We want to continue to hear from as many residents as possible. Together, I know we will strike the right balance between helping our residents afford to stay in Norwalk while keeping our community, authentically Norwalk and I’m confident that the Planning and Zoning Commission will make the right decisions and modify where appropriate."
For those interested in learning more, the City encourages them to visit our website, where we have a page dedicated to addressing the community’s questions and concerns at https://www.norwalkct.gov/3445/Zoning-Regulations-Update