A petition effort seeks to increase public participation in decision-making about the future of the Schlumberger property.
“The town is looking to sell it to recover the money, said Dave Goldenberg, who started the petition. “But my feeling is we’re going about it in a very short-sighted way, and it’s really another example of the lack of planning for the future of this town.”
Voters approved spending $7 million to buy the 45-acre property. As part of their effort to recoup that investment quickly, the Board of Selectmen petitioned to have 10 acres off Sunset Lane rezoned for multi-family development. Their planned next step is a “request for proposals” asking developers to make a financial bid for the 10-acres accompanied by a plan showing how they would develop it.
“We bought it so we could control the destiny, rather than developers,” Mr. Goldenberg said. “But, instead, it’s being carved up and sold to developers, just at lower density. That’s not a plan. We should be doing some real planning there, looking at the future trying to determine what Ridgefield needs.”
The zone the selectmen sought — and the Planning and Zoning Commission approved Tuesday night — allows six units an acre if all are market rate, and up to eight units an acre if some are made “affordable.”
At the public hearing, Mr. Goldenberg, a member of the town’s affordable housing committee, had urged more focus on using the property to address the town’s affordable housing needs.
At this point the petition is online in digital form but hasn’t been taken to the streets as an ink and paper document.
It can be reached through the link http://chn.ge/1ayHVjp.
Addressing “Ridgefield friends,” Mr. Goldenberg said the selectmen are “about to simply carve up and sell the property off to the highest-bidding home developer. This is bad planning. We should create a plan for the property that determines its best uses, benefiting Ridgefield residents, business and the municipality, now and in the future. With good planning we can still get our $7 million investment back. But once the property is crowded with houses, we can’t get the land back.”
He suggested they contact him at 203-438-5656 if they have questions.
Mr. Goldenberg said Monday that he’d put the petition up last week and it had acquired 124 signatures.
First Selectman Rudy Marconi said he felt the petition effort was unnecessary because the selectmen are dealing with the property as they’d said they would in public discussions before the town vote to purchase it.
“We discussed all of the plans, what we’d do,” Mr. Marconi said.
The selectmen, he said, are pursuing a four-part plan that includes: selling off the 10 acres off Sunset Lane “for residential development that would be in character with the neighborhood;” working toward a sale of about 12 acres and some of the buildings — including the Philip Johnson building and the theater — in the “main campus” to an individual who hopes to house a private art collection there; marketing five acres that are on the other side of Old Quarry Road, overlooking the sewer plant and highway garage, for non-residential development; keeping the remaining 18 acres as open space, but with a possibility a sewer line could cross it, solving a pump station problem at Quail Ridge II and allowing possible extension of the rail trail over the sewer line’s path.