Ridgefield parking: Governor Street lot expansion to create 56 new spaces

The planned new parking lot would be an extension at the far north end of the town's current Governor Street lot, and access would be through the current lot, from Governor Street.

The planned new parking lot would be an extension at the far north end of the town's current Governor Street lot, and access would be through the current lot, from Governor Street.

Macklin Reid / Hearst Connecticut Media

Parking for 56 more cars would enhance Ridgefield’s stock of roughly 1,500 public and private parking spaces in the village, as part of a long-planned expansion of the town’s Governor Street parking lot.

The project is entering the local approval process.

Construction plans for the new parking area have been scheduled for a public hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 12, as part of a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting scheduled to start at 7:30.

There’s a stream and wetlands east of the area where the new parking lot is planned. With a new separate Inland Wetlands Board due to be elected Nov. 5, the scheduling of the public hearing on the needed wetlands permit has been left to the new board.

It’s been a couple of years since budget referendum voters approved $570,000 to build a new parking lot on town land at the fringe of the village.

Although there had been talk of assigning areas of the new lot for parking by village workers, the plan is now to simply leave it open and available — trusting that village business people and their employees will understand the benefit of leaving spaces closest to stores and restaurants open for customers.

“As for the use of Governor Street extension, it will be all-day parking for everyone — which includes employees,” said Parking Authority Chairwoman Jessica Wilmot.

Plans for the new parking area show a northward extension of the current 62-car, all-day parking lot. The new lot would be closed at its north end, with circular traffic flow and access both in and out of the new lot through the older one, from Governor Street.

“The project consists of construction of an additional 56 parking spaces,” town facilities director Jake Muller wrote to the commission. “Access will be via the existing driveway on Governor Street.”

While the existing lot has just a central drive for traffic in and out, with cars parked on either side of it, the new proposed extension would be close to square in shape. It would have 19 spaces along the western edge of the lot, an island area in the middle with 11 spaces on one side and nine space on the other, then 13 spaces on the far eastern edge of the lot, and four spaces on its southern end next to the driveway connection to the current lot.

The property is about two acres — including the existing lot, sandwiched between the Boys and Girls Club and the RVNA. The area where the new lot is planned is wooded and sloped, to the east of the Casey Energy property off Bailey Avenue.

The hearing schedule has been complicated by the town’s transition from having a combined Planning and Zoning Commission and Inland Wetlands Board to have two separate agencies.

“The Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing for the municipal parking lot expansion is scheduled to open on November 12th.,” said Planning and Zoning Director Richard Baldelli. “We anticipate going forward with the public hearing on the 12th.”

However the applicant — in this case the town — has given the commission an extension of the statutory time period during which a hearing must be completed, allowing the hearing to be continued to Dec. 10.

The expectation is that by that time the new separate Inland Wetlands Board, to be elected Nov. 5, will have organized and scheduled it own public hearing on parking lots plants.

But that’s not certain. “Additional time-frame extensions may be required,” Baldelli said.

The wetlands board is required to act first, Baldelli noted.

He pointed to statutory language that says: "The commission shall not render a decision on the application until the inland wetlands agency has submitted a report with its final decision to such commission. In making its decision the zoning commission shall give due consideration to the report of the inland wetlands agency".

On the application form for the parking lot permit, town facilities director Muller wrote that the project’s “approximate start and completion dates” would be “dependent on approvals.”

Once construction starts, he said, the estimated time to complete the project would be eight months.