P&Z and architecture council give mixed messages on LDS meeting house design
The meeting of Monday October 24 of the Planning and Zoning Commission opened with the Commission’s decision on a controversial sewer extension project in Cannondalebut it was just one of many items on a packed agenda that the stewards faced that evening.
By the end of the night, two special permits and a rule change had been approved. A fourth claim was pursued, however, after finding itself caught in uncertain territory between the role of P&Z and its advisory group, the Architectural Review Board (ARB).
Confusing (sometimes contradictory) comments on the proposed LDS meeting house
Architects Robin Benning and Rob Burgheimer presented to P&Z on the proposal of its client, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saintsto build an LDS meeting house in 241 Danbury Road, in front of the Town Hall. The couple had previously presented at WRA at three meetings between June and August this year, with the project ongoing important updates in response to board feedback.
The final meeting August 4 concluded with Burgheimer thanking ARB for their time and insight throughout the process. “Honestly,” he said, “it’s a much better project today than where we started.”
He and Benning would later state at Monday’s P&Z meeting that in light of these preliminary discussions, they thought this new discussion would center on the site plan for the project. Instead, P&Z had its own design feedback to deliver.
Vice-president Melissa-Jean Rotinifilling for President Rick Tomasetti who had to recuse himself from this request, began the discussion by inquiring about a set of windows in the steeple of the building which seemed to be masonry in the coating. Benning and Burgheimer explained that this section of an LDS meeting house traditionally does not have windows, but that these cutouts in the steeple, which actually function as vents, were added at the ARB’s suggestion.” to animate the elevations of the building”.
Curator Chris Pagliaro shared Rotini’s concern about the appearance of these non-windows, but he was also concerned about the scale and design of the windows throughout the building.
“I’d like to see an exterior mid-post that isn’t a square, flat bar and adds a proper colonial profile to this thing,” he said, expressing frustration that specific windows weren’t selected. under the previous ARB process.
Pagliaro also inquired about a material sheet and why it was not included in the presentation. A sample of material had been submitted to the ARB over the summer and reviewed by members, but did not appear to be included, at least initially, in the P&Z dossier. However, as of Wednesday, October 26, the sample board has been added to the documents on the city’s website.
“Be indulgent with me,” Burgheimer said, sounding puzzled. “We spent a lot of time with the ARB to get to this point. This is something that we thought we had carefully considered, but some of the things you are talking about are the same things that have already been discussed, presented and rejected. We are kind of coming full circle.
Rotini stepped in, apologizing for the confusion. “We’ve put ARB in place with the best of intentions to try to restrict those conversations when they come to us, but we’re still trying to do better.”
Pagliaro added that he doesn’t think projects should come out of ARB until key materials such as windows have been selected.
In a final conversation, Commissioner Florence Johnson requested more information on native plants and impervious surfaces that could be incorporated into the plan, which the applicants agreed to explore.
City planner Michael Wrinn suggested continuing the presentation of the meeting house until the next scheduled P&Z meeting on monday november 14. “It doesn’t make sense to open this hearing to the public until they’ve made their final presentation,” he said, noting that staff were still waiting for documents related to drainage, lines of public services and investigations, in addition to the series. topics introduced by the curators.
Three apps win approval
The meeting also included votes on three pending applications, two of which had already been submitted to P&Z. The third, a rule change requested by ASML— was presented to the Commission for the first time.
It appears Wilton’s largest resident business recently discovered that it may have been operating in violation of city rules for some time. ASML has applied for a zoning bylaw amendment to remove a longstanding but little-noticed ban on shift workers in Wilton’s Design Enterprise District, where the company’s facility is located. Fifteen percent of its workforce works night shifts, which the company feared would qualify as shift work.
Although the case was never contested by the city or neighbors, plaintiff’s attorney Jim Murphy called the settlement “a sword of Damocles hanging over our heads”.
He began by offering a bit of history on Prohibition, which he says was originally put in place in 1956 in Wilton’s Design Research District to discourage factory manufacturing at the Wilton Center. In 1972, he explains, the Design Research District and the Design Enterprise District were merged and the ban on shift workers applied to both categories of sites.
Murphy explained that the manufacturing carried out at ASML’s site differs in nature from the type of manufacturing that was the original target of the ban. The facility manufactures the lenses used in the creation of microchips, a process achieved through a delicate three-month process. The chips themselves are made elsewhere, but the machines responsible for the lenses must be monitored 24/7 by ASML workers, 15% of whom work night shifts for this to be possible.
Believing that the bylaw was not intended to restrict such uses on a property like ASML’s, the company requested that the language be removed from the zoning ordinance.
Curator Eric Fanwick called Murphy’s argument “a bit hypocritical”. “If you didn’t think this applied to you, then you wouldn’t be here before us,” he said. He asked if ASML would be open to a strict on-site noise requirement if this ban on shift workers was removed.
“Respectfully,” Murphy replied. “It’s already in place. Noise guidelines limit sound at the property line to 80 decibels during the day and 55 at night. He noted that the only noise complaint received was due to construction, not the operation of night shift workers, which appeared to satisfy the concern.
During the public comment period, Barbara Geddis, Wilton resident and architect voiced support for the amendment: “I say less is more when it comes to regulations. We love ASML and the working day is changing around the world. Language like this about shift work is obscure. However, she noted that when Wilton’s regulations are updated more broadly, she would like nighttime light pollution protections to be considered.
Later in the evening, the Commission will vote unanimously to grant ASML’s request.
P&Z also voted to approve two projects that concluded lengthy reviews at the previous Commission meeting. Create a learning center received unanimous approval to expand its operations to serve 26 additional children. And Hartford Health CompanyThe controversial signage request finally came to an end, with five commissioners voting to approve, including Pagliaro who had expressed the deepest reservations about the plan. In the end, only Rotini voted against the bid, with Johnson abstaining because he had missed the last meeting.
The next meeting of Planning and Zoning Commission is planned for monday november 14. Prior to the end of the meeting, Wrinn informed the commissioners that a new request for painted cookieThe extended localization of could be on the agenda as of this next meeting. He added that the proposal for a new 32-unit multi-family residential building at 12 Godfrey Place will head towards Architectural Review Board next month before coming to P&Z.