League of Women Voters host town officials
DARIEN — It started out as a “state of the town” talk but residents wanted answers on the 16-acre Ox Ridge town property.
With budget season at a close, residents were more interested in the upcoming Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing regarding the special permit application for the town-owned Ox Ridge property, which has now officially been renamed as High Field Farm.
Nina Miller, an RTM member, and a Darien League of Women Voters member inquired about the special permit application at the League’s event last Wednesday.
“One of the concerns I have is the rapid development in the town and the use of town space for field space,” the League of Women Voters member said. “Are we doing the best to manage space?”
John Sini, the Planning and Zoning Commission chairman, said that the town body would not be debate the policies the Selectmen had proposed but review if such adhered to the town’s zoning regulations.
Sini noted that he could not discuss the specifics of the special permit application because the applicant, the First Selectman, was sitting beside him.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, Board of Finance Chairman Jon Zagrodzky, Board of Education Chairperson Tara Ochman and RTM moderator Seth Morton were the other town officials at the event.
The public hearing, originally scheduled for Tuesday evening, was canceled due to the storm that forced the closure of town hall.
“We’re endeavoring to strike the right balance between uses at High Field Farm,” Stevenson said. “There are those who want to use the property in an active way and others in a passive way, there’s something for everyone.”
Another resident touched upon the subject of discrimination in town. Margaret Rague, a town resident who previously organized an Occupy Darien event in 2011, asked town officials about affordable housing policy and racial profiling in town.
“I can tell you that the town of Darien does not engage in the activity of racial profiling,” Stevenson said. “I’m very proud of the work the police department does and they collect sums of data to show that.”
Regarding future developments in town, town officials emphasized the growth that Palmer’s Market and Federal Realty would bring to town with the redevelopment of Noroton Heights.
“What you’re going to start to see in late 2018 and early 2019 with the Federal Realty project is a face-changing development,” Sini said, adding that shovels would be expected to hit the ground by the summertime.
An item that town officials highlighted was the decrease in the mill rate, established by the RTM this past Monday.
“It’s just a half percent drop but in these tough times every taxpayer can use a slight decrease in the taxes they pay,” Zagrodzky said. “Of course we know the difficulties the state continues to have with sustainability.”
Around 30 people attended the event. Attendees said that they liked seeing members from different town functions together.
“It was very informational,” Julie Best said. “It was good to see and learn about all the different boards together and understand how it all works.”