Zoning commissioners approve Washington Village rebuild
Hour (Norwalk, CT), 2014-02-20
Feb. 20--NORWALK -- Zoning commissioners late Wednesday night approved a plan to raze and rebuild Washington Village, the oldest public-housing complex in Connecticut.
"It's a huge milestone for the project, a critical step forward," said Timothy Doherty, project manager with developer Trinity Financial, LLC. "We're grateful to the commission, and the Planning and Zoning staff really worked hard with us."
Christopher J. Smith, the attorney representing Trinity Financial of Boston, said the local approvals will clear the way to secure funding for the $100-million-plus project.
The plan, undertaken by Trinity Financial in concert with the Norwalk Housing Authority and Norwalk Redevelopment Agency, calls for razing Washington Village and its 136 apartments along Water Street and building in their place 136 public-housing units, 67 workforce housing units and 70 market-rate units in two, three and four-story buildings.
During the review process, critics argued against rebuilding in a flood zone.
Proponents of the plan, including many Washington Village residents, however, pled for its approval as a way to replace old, undersized apartments that frequently flood during storms.
"We have families living in mold-infested, flood-prone apartments," said Commissioner Michael G. Mushak before voting 'Yes.'
Mushak described the reconstruction plan, which calls for building apartments above and parking below, as a "flood-resilient design."
Approved Wednesday night was a zoning change to permit below-building parking in a flood plain, as well as the site plans for the three component portions of the project.
The plan calls for transferring city-owned land at 13 and 20 Day St. to the Norwalk Housing Authority for incorporation into a new Washington Village. Ten and 70 apartments would be constructed on those properties, respectively.
Meanwhile, a total of 193 new multi-family housing units would be built at the location of the current Washington Village.
The commission held a public hearing on the plan on Dec. 11, but chose to review new information, including proposed off-site improvements, rather than vote immediately on the proposal.
During the hearing, Washington Village Tenants Association President Raymond Dunlap presented a petition with signatures of residents supporting the plan.
Ganga Duleep, Friends of Ryan Park president, however, reiterated her concerns that raising the intersection of Day and Raymond streets would increase flooding in nearby areas.
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