Industrial Zones Oversight Committee Meeting
*SPECIAL MEETING NOTICE*
The Industrial Zones Oversight Committee will hold a Special Meeting
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Special Legal Requirements for this Meeting
To allow public access, anyone may access the meeting by either telephone, Zoom and/or the City Norwalk YouTube Channel. Additional instructions for public access have been attached to the backup materials for this meeting (refer to attachment: “Participating and Attending Public Meetings Virtually). Please also see the information below concerning registration for this meeting.
Telephone Access (Listening Only)
For those that just wish to view but are not participating, the live stream can be seen on the City of Norwalk YouTube Channel. Please note that due to scheduling conflicts a live YouTube stream is not guaranteed. If no YouTube live stream is available, please use the Zoom link posted above or dial in:
This meeting will also be recorded and a copy of the audio recording will be posted on the city website within seven (7) days after the meeting.
I. PUBLICENGAGEMENT PROCESS
Manresa Association Findings & Recommendations
Manresa Island consists of two parcels that occupy approximately 144 acres of Norwalk’s shoreline. Since 1960, a power plant has been located on the southern parcel; first operating as a coal fired plant that was converted to oil in 1972. In 2012, the site was inundated with storm surge during Hurricane Sandy and was subsequently closed in 2013. The closure of a power plant triggers a long process of reuse planning that involves multiple phases including decommissioning, remediation, and potential redevelopment.
The Manresa Association was formed in 2013 as an advocacy group dedicated to ensuring that Manresa Island is environmentally safe, provides open space and conservation habitat, and contributes to the physical beauty of Norwalk and the Long Island Sound coastline. The association comprises over 900 households and several local neighborhoods and clubs.
In 2017 the Manresa Association and the City of Norwalk partnered to conduct a study with the aims of identifying potential future uses of the property and assessing the potential economic impact of those uses. The study team worked closely with the project steering committee, which was composed of representatives from the City of Norwalk (Redevelopment Agency, Planning Department, Economic Development, and various Commission Members) and the Manresa Association. NRG Energy, owners of the plant, has provided access to the property and representatives from NRG attended a public workshop in support of the study.
This report provides an overview of environmental and ecological conditions of the property, remediation efforts to date and planned and potential remediation approaches, regional market conditions that will influence potential reuse of the property, and recommended reuses of the site based upon those conditions.
See Findings and Recommendations Report
EAST NORWALK NEIGHBORHOOD TOD PLAN PUBLIC HEARING
The Norwalk Planning Commission will hold two Virtual Public Hearings to be held online
at their Special Meetings scheduled for Wednesday, August 5, 2020 and Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 6:30 pm on the following amendment:
EAST NORWALK NEIGHBORHOOD TOD PLAN AMENDMENT TO THE NORWALK CITYWIDE PLAN 2019-2029: PLAN OF CONSERVATION & DEVELOPMENT
The draft East Norwalk Neighborhood Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Plan is proposed to update the City of Norwalk’s current Plan of Conservation & Development entitled “Norwalk Citywide Plan 2019-2029: Plan of Conservation & Development” dated effective: December 5, 2019. The proposed TOD Plan is shown on a document entitled “East Norwalk Neighborhood TOD Plan” Prepared for the City of Norwalk Prepared by Harriman|NV5|RKG and dated Report: April 2020 Last Updated: 06.16.2020. A copy of the proposed POCD amendment, the Draft TOD Plan and related appendices are available on the City’s Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) website. See links below:
To view the Draft East Norwalk Neighborhood TOD Plan:
East Norwalk TOD Plan Oversight Committee Edits
View Plan Edits
At this hearing interested persons may be heard and written communications submitted. A copy of the agenda and instructions on how to participate in this virtual meeting will be available on the City of Norwalk’s website at: https://www.norwalkct.org/1913/Meeting-Notices
DATED THIS TWENTY-THIRD DAY OF JULY, 2020
FRANCES DIMEGLIO, CHAIR
East Norwalk Transit-Oriented Development
East Norwalk Transit-Oriented Development
Access to transportation alternatives, such as rail, is one of the most significant drivers of economic growth and can help create a more sustainable community.
Norwalk is currently seeing this type of development around the South Norwalk Train Station and the Merritt-7 Station. However, the East Norwalk rail station sites have seen stagnant or little growth, despite the station being the next stop from the South Norwalk train station. While the development of this area is important to the City, the type and scale of development occurring at South Norwalk and Merritt-7 is probably not appropriate for East Norwalk.
The City has completed the planning process for the future of the area around the East Norwalk rail stations. This study outlines a vision for the future and will help guide recommendations for appropriate uses for the land and scale of market-supportable, development in the East Avenue area surrounding the train station.
The final plan elements include:
Appendix A - Market Analysis
Appendix B - Transportation Analysis
Appendix C - Community Engagement
Appendix D - Draft Zoning
Appendix E - Design Guidelines
- Land Use
- Economic Development
- Preservation/Adaptive Reuse
- Urban Design
- Public and Green Spaces
- Traffic Circulation
East Norwalk Neighborhood TOD Plan Public Meeting
Date and Time:
July 1, 2020 @6:30pm
Zoom Video Conference
The East Norwalk TOD planning team is excited to present the draft TOD plan to the Norwalk community on Wednesday July 1st starting at 6:30 PM and Thursday July 2nd at 11AM via Zoom. It’s been nearly 18 months in the making! We anticipate an approximate 40 minute presentation, followed by a question and answer period. The draft plan and appendices can be viewed at: https://tomorrow.norwalkct.org/transit-oriented-development
Anyone may access these meetings by telephone, Zoom, and/or the City of Norwalk YouTube Channel.
Specific instructions and links can be found at: https://www.norwalkct.org/1913/Meeting-Notices
Telephone access (Listening only) Dial: (646) 558-8656 or (267) 831-0333. Then, enter the Webinar ID:
For the July 1st meeting, the Webinar ID is: 899 1010 7945. The link to join is: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89910107945
For the July 2nd meeting, the Webinar ID is: 868 7633 1013. The link to join is: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86876331013
For those that wish to just view, the Live Stream for both meetings can be seen on the City of Norwalk YouTube channel
The meetings will also be recorded and a copy of the audio recording will be posted on the City’s website within seven (7) days after the meeting.
Plan DOT (Desarrollo Orientado al Transporte) del vecindario East Norwalk
El equipo de planificación de East Norwalk DOT (Desarrollo Orientado al Transporte) se complace en presentar el borrador del plan TOD a la comunidad de Norwalk el miércoles 1 de julio a partir de las 6:30 p.m. y el jueves 2 de julio a las 11 a.m. a través de Zoom. ¡Han sido casi 18 meses de preparación! Anticipamos una presentación aproximada de 40 minutos, seguida de un período de preguntas y respuestas. El borrador del plan y los apéndices se pueden ver en el sitio de Norwalk Tomorrow: https://tomorrow.norwalkct.org/transit-oriented-development
Cualquier persona puede acceder a esta reunión por teléfono, Zoom y/o el canal de YouTube de la ciudad de Norwalk. Instrucciones específicas y enlaces pueden encontrarse en: https://www.norwalkct.org/1913/Meeting-Notices
Acceso telefónico (solo para escuchar) • Marque: (646) 558-8656 o (267) 831-0333, y luego:
Para la reunión del 1 de julio Ingrese la identificación del webinar: 899 1010 7945 El enlace es https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89910107945
Para la reunión del 2 de julio Ingrese la identificación del webinar: 868 7633 1013 El enlace es https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86876331013
Para aquellos que desean ver, pero no participar, las transmisiones en vivo de las dos reuniones se pueden ver en el canal de YouTube de la ciudad de Norwalk: norwalkct.org/youtube Las reuniones también se grabarán y se publicarán copias de las grabaciones de audio en el sitio web de la Ciudad dentro de los siete (7) días posteriores a la reunión.
East Norwalk Neighborhood Tod Plan
View Draft Plan
Transit-Oriented Development Plan Moving Forward in East Norwalk
Norwalk has been undergoing planning for East Norwalk to guide growth and development in and around the East Norwalk train station. The plan is being developed with the help of stakeholders including the public, area businesses, and other city residents and representatives to create a vision for the future, and help guide recommendations for appropriate uses for the land and scale of development in the East Avenue train station area. Below we’ll take a look at some of the proposed recommendations
A New Village District for East Norwalk
One significant recommendation is the creation of a new village district for the area, concentrated on East Avenue. This will require all development to adhere to design guidelines that control building architecture, streetscape, site layout, signage and landscaping . The city would also allow some buildings to have additional height and a moderate increase in the number of residential units, above ground floor commercial spaces, provided they include certain amenities that positively impact the community. Benefits of this include additional revenue for property owners as well as promoting mixed-use development, so residents could live close to commercial and transportation options.
As part of developing the district, the plan proposes putting in place a street and facade improvement program in the areas of Charles Street & Osborne Avenue, north of Fort Point Street, similar to the program used in SoNo.
What Could New Development Look Like?
So what could the new village district look like? The study team put together a rendering and buildout of the corner of East Avenue and Winfield Street to illustrate what is possible. The new regulations could allow slightly taller buildings (1 additional story than currently allowed) in exchange for a large pedestrian plaza with other features such as fountains, public arts, public WIFI and/or public seating, as well as a shared parking lot to the rear of the development. In addition, sidewalks around this parcel could be widened to encourage pedestrians and to make room for possible outdoor dining space.
It is important to note that this plan has no mechanism or recommendation to take anyone’s property or force them to change their current use. The Plan is meant to guide development, if and when change occurs.
Improvements Toward the Norwalk River
In East Norwalk, as you go closer to the Norwalk River, one possible improvement would be to explore the relocation of the DPW garage elsewhere in the City. This site could be used for a variety of other uses, ranging from marine commercial use to open space.
Closer to South Norwalk, the study team suggested the creation of a promenade along Seaview Avenue, connecting the Cove Avenue area to SoNo. The promenade would be another great resource for Norwalkers, with amenities that could be used for recreational and entertainment purposes.
These recommendations will be posted in full in a draft plan and area residents, business owners and others with an interest in the area will have the opportunity to give their feedback to the City. Once put in place, the revitalization of the area around the East Avenue train station will be yet another step toward ensuring that Norwalk is a great place to live, work and play.
The Importance of Anchor Institutions to a City
There is a lot of talk in city planning circles these days about anchor institutions in cities and towns. With the loss of manufacturing in smaller cities and towns, institutions like hospitals and universities have become more important factors in local economies, and partners to neighborhoods and municipalities. In fact, those two institutions alone employ eight percent of the U.S. labor force and account for more than seven percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Below we delve a little deeper into anchor institutions and how they can benefit their communities.
What Are Anchor Institutions?
Anchor institutions are organizations that are established in communities and tied to them via place. Examples are libraries, hospitals, local community foundations, colleges and universities, and cultural organizations such as museums or arts centers. Anchor institutions can also be major employers in certain niches like science and design. Because of their longstanding establishment in a town or city, these places have an interest and investment in keeping their community vibrant. They contribute to their community via their employees, businesses they use as vendors, and relationships with neighbors and other organizations in the area. Because of their ties to their neighborhoods, towns, and regions, they are seen as key to its economic development, wellbeing, and cultural growth. The thinking is that they can be even more beneficial to their towns and cities via their intellectual resources, and economic and cultural power.
As some of the largest regional employers in a city, anchor institutions can benefit a city or town through its hiring and workforce development programs. Hiring local residents at decent, living wages and offering career building opportunities for local residents and employees can keep the area’s economy healthy. Working with and hiring locally-owned vendors promotes small and local businesses.
Other ways anchor institutions can promote business development in the area include colleges and universities making use of their resources, such as faculty and students. By creating small business development centers to work in their regions they can help to build the capacity of local
businesses. Area foundations and nonprofits too can create programs to work with local individuals and businesses to build their professional capacity. Colleges for example can also work with local school districts to create viable pipelines and pathways to skilled, high-paying jobs.
Promoting A Healthy Community
Institutions can do a number of things to impact the health of their neighborhoods and regions. They can work directly with the community via public health interventions. They can also make investments in factors that affect good health such as access to health care and health care information, access to healthy food and physical activity in local public schools, workforce wellness initiatives with local businesses, investment in safe and affordable housing, and by providing employment to local residents.
Anchor institutions need to engage with their local communities to maintain a partnership relationship. Universities can foster civic participation via discussions, lectures, workshops around adult education, politics, and the economy. Art institutions can support building a thriving arts and culture hub by supporting local artists and businesses, and partnering with local schools.
Anchor Institutions can bring important benefits to local communities in which they are located by creating decent-paying jobs for residents, supporting local businesses and community-based entrepreneurship, promoting the arts, culture and health, and engaging residents in a variety of productive ways.
In Norwalk, we have a number of anchor institutions, including Norwalk Hospital, Norwalk Community College and The Maritime Aquarium, for example. Anchor institutions are central to the implementation of the current Wall Street-West Avenue Redevelopment Plan. Because there are only a few traditional institutions in the area – Norwalk Hospital, Norwalk Public Library, Stepping Stones – non-traditional anchor institutions such as major employers like King Industries and Devine Brothers are also involved. These community strongholds continue to contribute to making Norwalk and surrounding towns a dynamic place to live and work.
Updating Zone Regulations for the City of Norwalk
In 2019, the City of Norwalk began the process of updating building zone regulations in response to the recommendations of the Citywide Plan. The regulations contain key requirements and guidelines for land use and development in Norwalk. The first step was to evaluate current regulations and assess their usefulness and consistency, among other things. The evaluation included discussion with local departments and agencies involved in land use permitting and enforcement, and meetings with other stakeholders who use the regulations, including developers, engineers, and attorneys. The assessment also included reaching out to the public, including residents, property owners, and business owners, to learn about Norwalk residents’ experiences with and ideas about what they would like to see in new building zone regulations. The zoning regulations’ evaluation process revealed a number of issues and concerns, which are discussed below.
In discussions, it was pointed out that the way in which building zone regulations’ information is organized could be improved. Presentation of the regulations is not intuitive for many people, and oftentimes difficult for them to find information they need. It was suggested that the regulations should be organized around four major themes organized by what people are looking for: Regulatory Basics, Zones & Uses, Development Standards, and Permitting/Enforcement. In addition, they would be easier to read with a standard chapter, article, section titling and numbering system, as well as headings. Visual aids such as illustrations, tables and charts, and clickable tabs and links to related information would also help make the information more clear.
The current regulations are now available via a static PDF hosted on the City’s website. The City envisions the regulations being available in a similar format but with more search and tab functions, and also available as an interactive map that contains searchable function by property address, that contains the relevant zoning and history of that property. By making the new regulations both user-friendly to find and read, information will be less confusing and more useful to all who use them.
Updates to Policies and Standards
The other set of recommendations from the evaluation phase of the new zoning regulations is to take a hard look at current regulations and make updates. This would include removing or revising ones that no longer make sense to enforcers, property owners and residents (such as parking in a residential front yard or rules regarding home-based businesses). In addition, the City should consider adding new regulations that would benefit Norwalk, for important issues such as stormwater, sustainability and pedestrian/bicycle facilities for example. Other areas where the City might changes include putting in place City‐wide design standards and guidelines, and updating provisions for industrial and business zones.
Since the City recently updated the Citywide Plan, there are changes to the regulations and Building Zone Map that are recommended in the Plan. Some of these changes may involve the rezoning of certain areas of the City, necessitating outreach within the subject community(s).
The third area in phase one of updating Norwalk’s building zone regulations was to look at updating, reorganizing, and clarifying procedural provisions such as getting permits and applications looked at and approved. The goal would be for the process to be consistent and easy to understand. For example, the process of obtaining a permit could be more clearly explained to help less experienced applicants. Inter‐department communication (including plan distribution, review and approval) could be more transparent and coordinated for applicants and others involved in the land use process. Changes to help the process could include improving public access to application materials and notice of pending applications, as well as putting applications and payments online. Internally, reorganizing the workflow within the City could help processes, including streamlining the approval process by perhaps establishing a “permit coordinator” position responsible for coordinating department activities and expediting permits.
Norwalk has transformed over the years, from an important colonial seaport, to a major manufacturing center. Today it has an economy that supports Fortune 500 companies, a busy marine harbor, high-tech manufacturing and innovative start-up companies. Updating the zoning regulations is in order to keep up with the City’s changing profile. In 2020, the Norwalk Zoning Commission will be taking a look at the evaluation findings and recommendations in order to move forward with a new draft of the building zoning regulations. Once a draft is complete, the public will have an opportunity to review and weigh in via open houses, workshops or hearings.
CLICK HERE to read the full Building Zone Regulations Update Evaluation & Recommendations.
Stakeholders Weigh In On Transit-Oriented Development for East Norwalk
The public was given the opportunity to hear progress and give feedback on the East Norwalk Transit-Oriented Development Plan at a public forum in November 2019. The 50 + participants were updated on the progress to-date following two community workshops, one on what people envisioned for the area held in March 2019, and the other on the different kind of transit-oriented development options available, held in July 2019. The public also heard about the key drivers of the Plan and the broad recommendations that address these key drivers. The final in-depth recommendations being developed in collaboration with the Oversight Committee are based on these broad recommendations. Additionally, attendees were taken through a market analysis of the project from an outside consultant that looked at the feasibility of development in East Norwalk and Norwalk as a whole.
During the public open house, participants were asked to vote on their priorities for various recommendations for development in East Norwalk. This was done via interactive boards on which attendees were asked to put stickers on the recommendations they preferred. Below are the results.
Highest Priority Recommendations:
- Enhance leisure opportunities with wider sidewalks, mid-block crossings, pocket parks, plazas, community gardens, and publicly accessible open spaces.
- Improve mobility for everyone with traffic calming tools and methods to slow traffic and discourage cut-through traffic.
- Preserve and enhance existing residential neighborhoods.
Lowest Priority Recommendations:
- Examine two-way traffic circulation options around the cemetery.
- Add road signage to increase driver awareness.
- Increase turnover of prime on-street parking.
The draft report, including recommended zoning and design changes, is expected to be completed in early 2020, and with Committee feedback, will be available for public comment.
Ultimately, the Planning Commission will amend the recently adopted Citywide Plan (POCD) to incorporate the recommendations within the East Norwalk TOD plan. As part of that process the Planning Commission will hold two public hearings and will also refer the plan to the Common Council.