Economic & Community Development
Neighborhood Planning
Sustainability & Environment
Transportation, Mobility & Parking

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get involved?

Participate in planning Norwalk’s future! Go to the Get Involved page to sign up for email notices on Citywide Plan activities and the News & Events to find out about events. As the plan gets underway, you can find maps, analysis, reports, and documents for comment on the Resources page.

What is Norwalk Tomorrow and this website?

The City of Norwalk created this Norwalk Tomorrow website as a long-term platform to provide information and encourage public participation in the City’s planning initiatives.

Economic & Community Development

What is an Enterprise Zone (EZ)?

An enterprise zone is a designated geography in which taxes are abated as of right for a period of 7 years to encourage new development and business growth in underutilized areas. Urban enterprise zone policies generally offer tax concessions, infrastructure incentives, and reduced regulations to attract investments and private companies into the zones. Urban enterprise zones are intended to encourage development in deprived neighborhoods through tax and regulatory relief to entrepreneurs and investors who launch businesses or develop in the area.

What is the eligibility criteria for establishing an Enterprise Zone?

The census tracts within an EZ must be zoned to allow commercial or industrial activity and meet at least one of the following criteria:

  1. Twenty-five per cent or more of the persons within the individual census tracts shall have income below the poverty level;
  2. Twenty-five per cent or more of the families within the individual census tracts shall receive public assistance or welfare income; or
  3. The unemployment rate of the individual census tracts shall be at least two hundred per cent of the state’s average.

How do Enterprise Zones Work?

Within the Enterprise Zone, taxes on improvements to any property within the geography are deferred for a period of 7 years: 100% for the first two years, 50% for the third year, 40% for the 4th year, 30% for the 5th year, 20% for the 6th year, and 10% for the 7th year. After the 7 year term, taxes will be at the true rate. If used for housing development, units must be affordable to 200% of the area median income or abatement will be revoked.

What is the implementation process?

The implementation process for extending the EZ is as follows:

  1. Public hearing held at a Planning Committee Meeting
  2. Planning Committee votes of the enterprise zone extension to be forwarded to the Ordinance Committee to amend the current EZ ordinance
  3. Ordinance Committee holds a public hearing and amends the Enterprise Zone ordinance to include the extended geography
  4. Common Council votes on the new ordinance language
  5. If approved, the property owners can take advantage of the tax deferral as of right

What are some key facts related to Enterprise Zones?

  • 7-year term
  • No loss in existing tax base revenue
  • As of right
  • Low barriers to entry
  • Low legislative involvement
  • Shorter implementation process
  • Little reporting required
  • Must include a physical improvement as it is a deferral on property tax increases due to improvements
  • Can be layered with other incentives/programs

Are there any precedents for other Enterprise Zones?

  1. South Norwalk
  2. Stamford
  3. New Haven
  4. Many other CT Municipalities (Hartford, Bridgeport, etc.)

What is a Tax Increment Financing District (TIF)?

A TIF is a public financing method and value capture strategy that is used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects or programs in a defined geography. Through the use of TIF, municipalities typically divert future property tax revenue increases from a defined area toward an economic development project or public improvement project or program in the designated geography. TIF subsidies are not appropriated directly from a city's budget but the city incurs loss through foregone tax revenue as tax revenue for that geography is lock-boxed for that geography and TIF financial plan. Different approaches to making improvements are possible through a TIF as they allow more local government control rather than only what state statutes allow. TIFs are mainly used to make needed investment in neighborhoods through tax relief in areas that require additional and focused improvements than may occur naturally.

What is the eligibility criteria for establishing a TIF District?

A portion of the real property within a tax increment district shall meet at least one of the following criteria:

  1. Be a substandard, insanitary, deteriorated, deteriorating or blighted area;
  2. Be in need of rehabilitation, redevelopment or conservation work; or
  3. Be suitable for industrial, commercial, residential, mixed-use or retail uses, downtown development or transit-oriented development.

Additionally, the original assessed value of a proposed tax increment district plus the original assessed value of all existing tax increment districts within the municipality may not exceed ten per cent of the total value of taxable property within the municipality.

How do TIF Districts work?

As businesses locate in a TIF district and the area redevelops, the property values rise. Rather than simply collecting the increased taxes from TIF district properties, the city splits the property tax revenues into two streams. The first stream is set at the original amount of the property value before redevelopment, known as the “base rate.” This stream continues to go to the general fund.

The second stream contains the additional tax money generated by the higher property value, or the “tax increment.” This stream does not go to the city or schools, but is kept separate and used to pay for items identified in the TIF financial plan. TIF revenues can be used to fund construction, improvements, repairs, and rehabilitations within the district as well as economic development programs, economic development revolving loan funds, investment funds, services and equipment necessary for employment training, and specific uses associated with the district.

What is the implementation process for a TIF District?

The implementation process for a TIF District is as follows:

  1. A consultant would be engaged to produce the TIF financial plan as an addendum to the Wall Street-West Avenue Plan (includes public input, research on infrastructure, capacity, and impact)
  2. Planning Commission considers if the amended plan is consistent with the POCD
  3. Planning Committee holds a public hearing and votes on forwarding the amended plan to the Common Council for its consideration
  4. Common Council votes to adopt the amended plan that includes the TIF financial plan
  5. If approved, the TIF District is created and implemented

What are some other key facts related to TIF Districts?

  • Increment is chosen by the Council
  • Term is flexible (up to 50 years)
  • Funding can be spent on a variety of different things
  • Can be layered with other incentives/programs
  • No loss in existing tax base revenue
  • Includes an implementable financial plan
  • New legislation allows for business benefits/programs as well as neighborhood improvements

Are there any precedents for other TIF Districts?

  • Stamford – South End/Harbor Point
  • Groton – Downtown Groton
  • Old Saybrook – Mariner’s Way
  • Windsor Locks – Downtown Windsor Locks, Route 20, and Ella Grasso Turnpike
  • Many other CT Municipalities (New Britain, Suffield, Enfield, Cheshire, etc.)
Sustainability & Environment

I love the Norwalk coastline and the water. What is being done to protect and improve the water quality Long Island Sound?

There are a huge number of people and organizations working on policy and action to protect the Sound.  Over 9 million people live in the 16,800 +/- square mile watershed that contributes to the Sound, so it is a colossal and complex effort.

One big concern is water quality.  If you live anywhere within Norwalk, when it rains...that rainwater eventually makes its way to Long Island Sound. That rainwater unfortunately carries pollutants, trash, and excess nutrients down to the Sound.  As a coastal community, Norwalk has an outsized impact on the water quality of the Sound.

Environmental planners approach water quality issues with watershed-based plans. These plans look at how rain and stormwater runoff travel across the land before getting to Long Island Sound. Policies and action items that reduce or retain pollution are spelled on in these watershed-based plans and these plans are referenced in Norwalk’s Plan of Conservation & Development.  Except for those living closest to the coast – your runoff has a direct line to the Sound! – all other portions of Norwalk are part of either the Norwalk River watershed, the File Mile River watershed or the Saugatuck River watershed.  Each of these plans can be found at the Norwalk Conservation Commission’s webpage.  Some watershed areas have active groups working on getting protective action items done, others are looking for community leaders to advocate on behalf of the watershed.

What can I do to increase my sustainable practices and decrease environmental impact?

Sustainability is about approaching our daily activities in a way that provides the best for people and the environment - both now and in the future.  There are many small steps every homeowner or business owner can do.  You may feel your space is small and inconsequential, but cumulatively there are over 22,000 individual parcels in Norwalk and those small actions can really add up to make significant positive change!  Consider:

  • Think about being sustainable before you act.  Many times it is easy to make a sustainable choice – you just have to remind yourself of your choices!
  • Eat locally and seasonally!  Support local farmer’s markets and local restaurants.  Plant your own vegetable or herb garden.
  • Re-sell or donate items for others to use.  By extending the life of any product, you help reduce trash generation and you help provide needed products at a reduced cost.
  • Get your water from the tap.   Water bottles contribute more than a million tons of plastic waste yearly;  find your perfect reusable water bottle.
  • Recycle…and purchase recycled products.   Help support the market for the items you recycle and look for the ‘post-consumer’ label when you purchase new products.
  •  Reduce your energy use.  Choose ‘Energy Star’ products; unplug electronics not in use; use a programmable thermostat; set your thermostat to be comfortable, but not excessively cool or warm.

How can I be engaged in local environmental efforts?

Norwalk has ample opportunities to connect you with other local people who share your concern and passion.  From stewardship of open space to supporting vegetable gardens at our schools, from joining the ‘Osprey Nation’ to ensuring ‘pollinator pathways’, from getting pedestrian trails connected to monitoring water quality, or reducing waste to planting trees – Norwalk has a place for you to be involved!   Contact the Conservation Office for help finding a group that shares your cause.

As predictions of sea level rise prevail, what is Norwalk doing to counter these effects to its coast?

Within the last 5 years there has been an interest in researching and implementing vegetation buffers to the coast of Norwalk. Since the coast of Norwalk is a vital community asset, protecting it is imperative to the city’s future. Some pros to implementing a vegetation buffer are, it can lower erosion and control sedimentation, protect the coastline, and prevent more built structures within the coast. However, there are many hurdles to overcome in order to efficiently enact this regulation. The following concerns for this project:

  • Large portions of preexisting harden shorefronts.
  • Effects of a vegetation buffer the use of each parcel on the coast  (commercial vs. residential)
  • The potential of creating non-conforming structures.
  • Increased cost to homeowner who would be held responsible to create a buffer.

See Chapter 9 of the Citywide Plan. Based on the scenarios outlined in the Citywide Plan, Norwalk intends to prepare a coastal resiliency plan that addresses these issues and provides a roadmap for the City to handle these issues going forward.

Transportation, Mobility & Parking

I received a parking ticket, what do I do?

Please click here to pay
Please click here to appeal

I’m commuting to New York, what are my parking options?

You can park daily at:

  • South Norwalk Train Station –7 days/week
  • East Norwalk Train Station
  • Or apply for permit; click here

Is there daily parking at the South or East Norwalk Train Station?

  • Yes, daily parking fee for the South Norwalk Train Station is $12 per day
  • East Norwalk Train Station Monday through Friday, permit only parking. Saturday through Sunday, parking fee is $8.00 daily

Does Norwalk boot cars?

Yes, when you have two or more outstanding parking tickets.

How long can I stay in an on-street parking area?

The posted time limits are typically 2 hours. Except long-term meters on Monroe, Madison and Henry Streets around the South Norwalk Railroad Station, and 30 minute parking on Mott Avenue adjacent to the Main Library and in front of the Post Office on Belden Avenue. Please check posted signs upon parking.

If I display a handicap permit do I have to pay?

Yes, you still have to pay for parking.

Does the permit guarantee a parking space?

No, we do not assign parking spaces. A monthly permit offers parking at a discounted rate on a first-come, first-served basis.

Do I have to be a Norwalk resident to get a monthly permit?

No, there are no residency requirements.

When are the on-street parking meters enforced?

The hours of operation are between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in posted locations.
Additionally, there is no on-street enforcement on Sundays and holidays: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day.

What are the hours of operations for parking lots and facilities?

All off-street parking garages and lots are 24/7 including holidays.

Where can I find parking rates for all the facilities?

Click here for more information.

What are the hourly payment options at the facilities?

You can:

  • Pay by cash, credit card or coin at all of our facilities except at the East Norwalk Railroad Station where we only accept pay by smart phone on the weekends
  • Pay by phone at all our facilities. Click here for more information
  • Pay by plate at all our off-street facilities

Can I park my car for more than one day in Norwalk?

Overnight parking is allowed in all facilities. During snow emergencies, overnight parking is not allowed in all the open surface lots and on-street parking spaces.

Can I store my car in the parking facilities?

Storage of a vehicle is allowed only at the Yankee Doodle Garage. Vehicles are not allowed to be stored in any other facilities. Storage is defined as a vehicle parked for 5 consecutive days without being moved. There is an additional fee for stored vehicles

Is there dedicated, secured parking for bicycles at any of the parking facilities? Are there bike racks ?

There are secured bike racks at a number of facilities. They are at the following locations:

  1. South Norwalk Railroad Station – State Street/Westbound side and on the Eastbound side, both adjacent to the building
  2. East Norwalk Railroad Station – Westbound side next to the concession building
  3. Maritime Garage – inside on the first floor at the Water Street entrance

What is the speed limit on my street?

The State of Connecticut Office of the State Traffic Administration sets the speed limits on all public streets in consultation with the Norwalk Traffic Authority. If a speed limit is not specifically identified for a street, the speed limit is 30 mph.  Read more HERE

Can we simply reduce the speed limit to slow speeding traffic?

No. The City of Norwalk, in consultation with the State of Connecticut Office of the State Traffic Administration has set the posted speed limit based on an engineering study that takes several factors in mind including road characteristics, traffic mix, collision history, and road function. Additional information regarding speed limits can be found HERE.

Why can’t stop signs be installed?

Stop signs are considered traffic control devices and not traffic calming measures. They are intended to control the flow of traffic at an intersection and assign right-of-way. Traffic noise and speeds may increase with the introduction of a stop sign. Standard engineering thresholds are applied to determine if a stop sign is “warranted.” Numerous studies have found that unwarranted stop signs are more likely to be ignored by motorists and have been found to lead to increased collisions and speeding.

Drivers are speeding in my neighborhood. What can be done?

There is no single solution for speeding on residential streets. Speeding vehicles, especially in neighborhoods can be frustrating, dangerous, and make residents feel unsafe. Please do your part to drive at or below the speed limit. Especially take special care near schools, daycares, playgrounds, parks and areas with decreased visibility.

Most vehicles are travelling at or below the posted speed limit. Unfortunately, occasionally there are speed limit violations. Many times, these speeders are people from your neighborhood. So do your part and spread awareness about speeding. This can be an effective measure against it. Speak with your neighbors, host block parties and set a good example by following established speed limits.

One of the most important factors in determining speed is the driver's perception of the road environment and of what speed is safe to drive. These factors are often used in setting speed limits. Artificially low speed limits are difficult to enforce.

Report recurring, excessive speeding in your neighborhood to Norwalk Customer Service at 203-854-3200.

Who do I contact regarding the installation of a driveway mirror?

The City does not permit the use or installation of mirrors within the City road Right-of-Way. Mirrors can be a distraction to motorists and cause problems with night-time driving due to headlight reflectivity.

Who do I contact regarding the installation of a blind driveway signs?

The Department, through its regulations, is required to use the Federal publication of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) on roads open to public travel. The Federal signing guidelines provided in the MUTCD do not include "Blind Driveway". There is also potential concern that the sign may provide a false sense of security to those specific individuals.

If there is a sight line restriction from a roadway or driveway, the responsibility of achieving adequate sight lines lies with the owner of the intersecting road or drive.

What types of traffic calming devices are available for my street?

The City has developed a software application that identifies and describes traffic calming devices that may be appropriate for a street. Additional information is available on request.  General information on the general Norwalk Traffic Calming plan can be found HERE