Mixed-Use Zoning in Waterfront Plan Attracts Controversy in Connecticut

Norwalk, Connecticut is figuring out how to balance the competing interests of development demand, public access, environmental risks, and historic preservation.

2 minute read

September 12, 2023, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

A map of the Connecticut shoreline along the Long Island Sound highlights the cities of Norwalk and Bridgeport, among others.

atdr / Adobe Stock

Norwalk, located in Fairfield County, Connecticut, is working on a new waterfront plan that balances the community’s long history and the contemporary risks of sea-level rise and climate change.

According to an article by Katherine Lutge, the city has been planning the future of the waterfront since 2021. Boston-based firm UTILE Architecture & Planning produced the "Norwalk Industrial Waterfront Land Use Study" earlier this year, and now several local organizations are concerned about zoning and other changes proposed by the report.  

According to the city, the three primary goals of the plan are to increase public access to the waterfront, retain commercial and industrial water dependent uses, and address environmental concerns through development best practices.

“By proposing zoning that allows for mixed-use development that is water dependent, there is an opportunity to redevelop the sites closest to Washington Street, which may activate the waterfront area for public access. This could potentially include restaurants, boardwalks, boat slips and public open space,” according to a statement from the city quoted in the article.

Lutge also reports, however, that the Harbor Management Commission, Shellfish Commission, and Water Quality Commission are raising concerns about the possibility of new development density on the city’s waterfront, potentially in the 100-year floodplain.

More details about the proposed zoning changes, and the emerging opposition to those changes, are included in the source article below.

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