The What: This Week in Southwest Connecticut

The What is your look around southwest Connecticut for the week of April 4.

The What: This Week in Southwest Connecticut

April 4

Happy Monday and happy April. It’s a busy week across southwestern Connecticut with communities hosting public hearings on their budgets, reviewing the impacts of proposed state legislation, and exploring how the current food system impacts health, the economy, and social challenges.

Let’s dive in.


The Board of Finance and the Fiscal Committee of the Board of Representatives will host a public hearing on the city’s proposed $638.4 million budget on Thursday, April 7 at 7 p.m. at Westhill High School’s Auditorium.

Mayor Caroline Simmons proposed her first budget in March and the Board of Finance and Fiscal Committee have been meeting with city department heads to discuss their requests. In addition to the public hearing, the Fiscal Committee will hear from the finance department, grants office, Chamber of Commerce, and anti-blight office, among others, on Tuesday, April 5 at 6 p.m.

Learn more about what’s in the city’s proposed budget.


Remember our previous reporting on the state of a residents-sponsored petition that opposed allowing residential uses in former office parks? That issue is back before the Zoning Board at a special meeting on Monday, April 4 at 2 p.m.

A quick refresher: In December, the Zoning Board voted to approve zoning that would allow housing—and other uses—in the city’s “C-D” zones, which were commercial districts that had been mostly used as office parks. Residents, particularly members of the Stamford Neighborhood Coalition, opposed the zoning changes arguing that the decision to allow housing would create too much density in the surrounding areas and more than 1,000 residents signed a petition opposing those changes. The city’s Land Use Bureau reviewed the petition and determined that it was not valid because it did not have enough signatures from landowners in the area surrounding the zone. The city’s attorneys also agreed with this decision.

However, residents, and many members of the Board of Representatives, argued that the Land Use Bureau didn’t have the authority to determine the validity of this petition—particularly because the department was also the applicant seeking the zoning changes in this case. As a result, the board voted 21-16-2 to approve a resolution that urged the Zoning Board to forward that petition. If the Zoning Board forwards the petition, the board will review the petition and decide whether to support or reject the residents’ claims.

Other meetings this week include:


The Board of Estimate and Taxation will vote to adopt a tentative $414 million operating budget for the city on Monday, April 4 at 6:30 p.m. So far, the city’s Common Council had voted to cap the budget at $414 million. The Board of Estimate and Taxation has been reviewing the requests and could vote to make edits, adjustments, or deletions to the budget before giving it a preliminary approval. Once that vote takes place, it is sent back to the Common Council, which will set the final cap, or maximum spending amount, for the city later in April—any final adjustments can happen at that time. The last step is for the Board of Estimate and Taxation to adopt the final budget on May 2.

Learn more about what’s in the city’s proposed budget.


On Wednesday, April 6 at 7 p.m., the Land Use & Building Management Committee of the Common Council will vote to advance multiple school construction projects. For the new South Norwalk school, the committee will vote to establish a building committee that will be responsible for reviewing work orders and construction progress; to submit an application to the state for reimbursement funding for the project; and to prepare drawings and specifications for the project. For the Norwalk High School project, the committee will vote to approve the Option design plans for the school, which the Board of Education selected in March.

Learn more about the Norwalk High School construction project.


The Economic and Community Development Committee of the Common Council will be reviewing and discussing the ways proposed state legislation could impact the city on Thursday, April 7 at 7 p.m. A bill before the legislature would require municipalities “to allow housing with at least 15 units per acre within a half mile of a passenger, commuter rail or bus rapid transit station. At least 10% of the units would have to be designated as affordable,” according to a report from CT Mirror.

The legislation would allow any property owners and developers to avoid the public hearing process to build in those areas, and would require the municipalities to issue their decisions on permit applications within 65 days. Advocates for the bill, which include groups like Desegregate CT, say it would help increase affordable housing and reduce car pollution. However, many local officials across the state have spoken out against the bill, stating that it would just increase density and not address affordable housing and that it wouldn’t take into account any local issues, such as infrastructure.

In a memo, Steve Kleppin, the city’s director of planning and zoning, stated that “Norwalk has four train stations with extremely different land uses, zoning, infrastructure and topography.” He noted that even just reviewing all of the exemptions the act carves out, such as not allowing development on areas that are considered wetlands, “is a very complex task that will take significant staff time.”

Kleppin noted that each of Norwalk’s train station locations are unique and have specific challenges related to them—such as topography and the ability to hook up to sewer and water.

“Simply placing a circle around a transit station because that is the acceptable (walking) distance, is not good planning,” Kleppin wrote.

Other meetings this week include:


Last week, the Board of Finance voted to approve a proposed budget for the town, which restored $2 million in funding to the Board of Education, while cutting almost that amount from the town side. This week, the Representative Town Meeting will host two budget hearings, one on Wednesday, April 6 at 7 p.m. and one on Thursday, April 7 at 7 p.m., as the legislative body begins its review of the budget. The RTM can only reduce the budget, but it is the final vote needed to adopt it.

In the $342.7 million budget proposed by First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick and adopted by the Board of Selectmen, the $10+ million increase request from the Board of Education was reduced by $2 million to about an $8 million increase. After weeks of review and a public hearing, the Board of Finance voted to restore that funding. In addition, the board approved cutting funding from a variety of town departments to make up for most of the difference, including: $118,000 from human resources; $850,000 to the town’s risk management fund, which handles general liability and workers’ compensation or medical claims; and $350,000 from the contingency fund, which is used to address unexpected expenses.

Kupchick spoke out against the decisions of the Board of Finance, stating that she believed the town cuts were “reckless, detrimental to taxpayers and the services our government provides.”

Learn more about the Fairfield proposed budget.

Other meetings this week include:


On Wednesday, April 6 at 7 p.m., the first event in a six-part Greenwich Food System Forum, which aims to examine the current food system and potential changes to it, will take place. The forum is organized by the town’s Conservation Commission and the Greenwich Food Alliance, with support from the Foodshed Network, a collection of businesses, nonprofits, and town-sponsored programs. The series aims to educate the community on how the current food system works, what transforming it would look like, and why many in the industry believe it’s necessary. The goal is to explore how the food system is connected to many of the challenges society faces including “human and ecological health, economic disparity, racial inequity, food insecurity and access, affordable housing, and climate change,” according to a statement from the organizers.

This first session is titled “The Industrialized Food System: Equity, Regionalization, Regeneration” and will feature Meg Hourigan, director of the Hartford Food System; Kip Kolesinskas, soil scientist and consultant; Theresa Rangel, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for Naugatuck; Cassius Spears, farm manager for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s Department of Agriculture; and Jeremy Whipple, executive director of Agriculture for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

Other meetings this week include:


The town’s Board of Finance will be finalizing the town’s proposed $143+ million budget at its meeting on Tuesday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m. The board plans to review any outstanding items, take a final vote on the proposal, and set the town’s mill rate, or tax rate, for the upcoming year.

After the Board of Finance vote, the budget goes to the Representative Town Meeting for final approval. The RTM vote is set for May 9 at 8 p.m.

Learn more about Darien’s proposed budget.

Other meetings this week include:


After hosting two public hearings last week, the Westport Board of Finance will be voting on the town’s proposed $223.8 million budget at its Wednesday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. After the Board of Finance’s vote, the budget advances to the town’s Representative Town Meeting for final adoption.

Learn more about Westport’s proposed budget.


The board will also be reviewing a $400,000 request to use American Rescue Plan Act funds for the planning, design, and permitting of the redevelopment of Parker Harding Plaza, Jesup Green, and the Imperial Lot.

Learn more about how Westport plans to use its American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Other meetings this week include:

Please note: All of these agendas and information here are current as of Sunday evening. Meeting times and agendas may get adjusted throughout the week.

Thank you for reading!

With spring and summer here, Coastal Connecticut Times is looking to get out on the road and meet with community members. If there’s an event, meeting, group, or fair you think we should be at, shoot us an email at We’d love to start meeting many of you in person.

Hope you all have a safe and healthy week, and as always, feel free to leave us some feedback using this short survey, which will help inform our work.

Have a great week,

Kelly Prinz

Founder, Reporter at Coastal Connecticut Times