Letter: Condos are devouring small town character

To the Editor:
Driving into Ridgefield on Danbury Road it’s easy to look around and wonder, what happened?
Recent construction projects, too numerous to list, continue to forever alter Ridgefield. In lieu of native shade trees, condos continue to spring up at every turn despite ever increasing traffic. Rows of generic condos and a storage rental facility — the new skyline entering town on Danbury Road — sharply contrast with Ridgefield’s Center Historic District known for “excellence of individual structures and from the panoramic streetscapes that are composed of many buildings constructed over a period of three centuries…” (Historic District Commission web page).
Yes — Connecticut towns face development pressure. New England downtown regions, many admired for generations, compete with commercial development. Some towns embrace this challenge successfully — others implode. “In the past 50 years, small town character has become an increasingly important selling point for homebuyers. Towns with such character are known as quiet safe places in which to live.” (scholarworks.umass.edu/larp_ms_projects/35) (2002). Designated by Ridgefield P&Z in 2007 the Village Historic District currently includes Main Street, Bailey Avenue, sections of Catoonah and Prospect Streets. Perhaps it’s time to increase the size and scope of this district!
Thankfully, Ridgefield residents consistently place a high premium on maintaining our unique town. The Ridgefield Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) confirms this consensus. In a 2018 POCD study two thirds of respondents described community character as their most valued aspect about Ridgefield. Specifically cited are hills, open space, undeveloped land, scenic views and roads. (POCD, book 4, 1/1/2019). The prior 2010 POCD Goal Statement itself reads: Preserve and encourage those features that contribute to Ridgefield's character.
We risk losing our uniqueness. Moving forward must insure that development projects are realized in a manner that remains true to our history and the highest values of our community.
Eric Beckenstein
Old Stagecoach Road, March 31