February 4, 2021
Industrial zones have been integral parts of cities for decades, allowing certain areas to be designated for industrial and commercial use. Following the 2019-2029 Citywide Plan, Norwalk is assessing its industrial zones to see if these areas are still appropriate for industrial uses, as well as taking a look at how to better use these zones for economic diversification and growth. As part of this effort, the City recently conducted a survey for stakeholders across the City, including residents and business owners, to gauge their opinions about Norwalk’s industrial zones.
Industrial Zone Survey Results
Out of a total of 434 respondents, two major opinion groups emerged, based on their votes and statements submitted.
One group of about one-third of those who responded had generally a pro-industry stance, with strong support for additional industrial development across the City, as well as a healthy mix of both commercial and industrial uses. Their opinions were generally:
- More supportive of industrial growth, especially for job creation
- Support for a balance of land use
- Sensitive to the location of industrial uses and their relationship to residential neighborhoods
A second group, representing about two-thirds of participants, had more of an anti-industry attitude. Many in this group expressed a desire to see industry be placed elsewhere in Fairfield County, and many pointed to the noise and harm that industry causes to residential neighbors. Their opinions included:
- Less support for industrial growth
- Norwalk should not bear the regional burden of industrial development
- Industry in Norwalk is not well located and should not be near residential areas
Despite the gap in opinions on industrial zones in general, there were areas of consensus across both of the groups. Whether pro-industry or anti-industry, there was wide agreement on:
- Industry should respect the needs of its residential neighbors
- Traffic and infrastructure are serious issues in many of the zones
- There should be a clear distinction between heavy and light industry
- Waterfront is a valuable asset for the City that should be considered separately from the other industrial zones
Industrial Zone Planning – Next Steps
Based on both the survey results and the above consensus points, the industrial zone planning team will look further into several questions that arose, including:
- While Norwalk is well positioned for a regional advantage with regard to industry, should it be the main industrial district for Fairfield County?
- What are emerging industrial trends and how should they inform the future of industrial development in Norwalk?
- How to balance the future of marine industrial and commercial uses with recreational uses such as boating and public access along the waterfront?
- How can Norwalk’s planning and policy mitigate conflicts between industrial uses and abutting residential and commercial areas?
With these in mind, the committee will undergo further planning analysis to develop urban design scenarios related to the various zones.