East Norwalk Neighborhood Tod Plan
East Norwalk TOD Study Draft Recommendations
Transit-Oriented Development Plan Moving Forward in East Norwalk
A New Village District for East NorwalkOne 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 RiverIn 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.
Next StepsThese 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.
East Norwalk Transit Oriented Development Plan Draft Zoning & Land Use Recommendations
Stakeholders Weigh In On Transit-Oriented Development for East Norwalk
Public PrioritiesDuring 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.
Next StepsThe 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.
November 2019 Open House Presentation
East Norwalk Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Public Meeting Presentation
East Norwalkers Lend Their Vision to Transit-Oriented Development Plan
Who ParticipatedThe majority (70%) of the 73 people who attended and filled out a questionnaire were residents of East Norwalk while 48% were East Norwalk business or property owners. Also among the participants, 26% commuted from East Norwalk and 35% worked in or were patrons of East Norwalk retail and restaurants. Just over 30% were a resident or business or property owner in Norwalk (or the surrounding region). The largest age representation at the workshop were those 56-65 (33%); and the second largest group represented were those 46-55, at 26%. Just 9% of attendees were between the ages of 18 and 35, while 15% were 66-80. Four percent of participants were over 80 years old.
Survey PreferencesWorkshop attendees participated in several different exercises to get their thoughts and opinions about the East Norwalk TOD area. The first exercise invited attendees to evaluate images within four categories: Housing; Commercial and Mixed Uses; Connectivity and Access; and Public Space. Participants were asked to rank their enthusiasm toward each image, from highly desirable to neutral, down to highly undesirable, based on its suitability with regards to East Norwalk. To gauge the development goals and vision of the community for the East Norwalk TOD area, attendees were shown different types of development that could be encouraged via incentives and controls. The alternatives included developing the area around East Avenue/Main Street based on Side Street Villages or smaller Community Nodes or Centers.
Focus GroupsAfter completing the preference surveys, workshop participants broke up into small focus groups to explore the opportunities and challenges they might foresee with each of the three development types surveyed above (East Avenue/Main Street, Side Street Villages, and Community Nodes/Centers). Participants were asked to provide their opinion on which of these types would be most appropriate for different areas within the larger TOD study area.
Next StepsWhether discussing housing, commerce, connectivity, or public space, it is clear that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for all of East Norwalk. However, the results of this public workshop, combined with an online survey, will help planners to better understand the community’s preferences in regard to building densities, land use mix, improvements to the pedestrian environment, and open spaces within the East Norwalk TOD area. Additional surveys, such as a commuter survey, is also coming soon. The community feedback will also provide a clear direction for moving forward among the three choices of development in East Norwalk, or a hybrid of the alternatives.
Watch Video Of The Workshop
East Norwalk Transit Oriented Development Plan Choices and Priorities Workshop
East Norwalk Residents Take Part In TOD Visioning Workshop
East Norwalk Transit Oriented Development AreaFollowing a short presentation from the consultant team, Harriman, attendees were led through a series of group exercises. These exercises were meant to engage the community in how they use this area on a day-to-day basis. This information, coupled with interviews with key community stakeholders such as business and property owners, neighborhood associations and advocacy groups, will help the consultant team and the City develop questions and areas to focus on during the planning process. The first exercise allowed participants to think about their daily patterns and the most frequent routes they take within the East Norwalk neighborhood. The second exercise was a more formal discussion of how the community uses the area, including challenges and opportunities faced by the public. The third exercise captured the community’s aspirations for the area and the kind of amenities they would like to see within a 5-minute and 10-minute walking distance of the train station. Overall, the group said they liked the small community, village feel of the East Norwalk neighborhood. They also liked the access to open spaces such as Taylor Farm, Veteran’s Park and the beach. Factors they would like to see addressed in the area included broken infrastructure, uneven sidewalks and lack of crosswalks, traffic control, especially the number of trucks, and what was seen as too many gas stations. There were several aspirations for the East Norwalk TOD area that came forward as priorities during the exercises, including open spaces such as a small parks and playgrounds, and more commerce such as retail shops and restaurants. Within the village center, a grocery story was the most desired amenity. A large number of participants also expressed the desire to have a post office within the village center. A community garden was the most desired amenity at the village edge - within a 10-minute walking distance from the train. Less desirable to include in the future was additional housing, with many participants expressing a strong aversion to adding more housing, particularly anything taller than 3-4 stories. Participants were also asked to complete comment cards to gain further feedback. Some of the comments are below:
We need smart development at the train station that improves walkability and encourages small businesses (café at train, small market). We need a small park in the center of East Norwalk you shouldn’t have to go to the beach or the Green to enjoy public space.
The repair of existing infrastructure is the place we should start. Cleaning up areas and adding clean affordable landscaping in spots that can use it.
East Norwalk occupies some 1/3 of Norwalk’s coastline, a significant geographic reality conclusive of the maritime tradition of East Norwalk; an aspect which must be championed in the effort to preserve the uniqueness of East Norwalk as a small community.
Keep the area a beach/maritime community. Add more walkable retail/ restaurants/small office space. Zoning changes to fit vision.The full results from the visioning workshop and other evaluations have been synthesized by the consultant team, who have prepared a full summary of the insights gained and major takeaways. Draft vision principles are being prepared that will guide and shape the future direction for the area. See Full Workshop Results, Market Analysis and Other Evaluations Here. The City is looking for input on this plan. If you were unable to attend the visioning workshop and are interested in participating, click below to a survey to give your input. East Norwalk Transit Oriented Development Survey