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Controversial apartment complex project in East Norwalk approved

An architectural rendering of a 77-unit apartment complex in East Norwalk to be built by M.F. DiScala & Co. and Spinnaker Real Estate Partners.
Beinfield Architecture
This is an architectural rendering of a 77-unit apartment complex in East Norwalk to be built by M.F. DiScala & Co. and Spinnaker Real Estate Partners.

Plans to build a controversial apartment complex in East Norwalk have been approved. The approval comes just two years after the neighborhood’s zoning regulations changed, making the neighborhood more marketable to developers.

The construction project for the 77-unit building gained approval from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission last week, nearly eight months after the application was filed.

East Norwalk became a designated Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in 2021, which is a federal term that encourages walkability and incentivizes developers building apartments and shopping centers near public transit.

The apartments, which will be located at 1 Cemetery St. and border Mill Pond, became the first development approved for the area since East Norwalk became a TOD. But the approval was hotly contested by many Norwalk residents.

The East Norwalk Neighborhood Association has spoken fervently against the project since it was proposed last year. Residents are concerned the development could create a drastic increase in traffic.

A petition asking developers to “scale back” the design was signed by more than 700 people prior to the plan’s approval.

M.F. DiScala & Co. and Spinnaker Real Estate Partners teamed up for the project.

Adam Blank, an attorney for one of the developers, believes residents' frustration over the proposed apartments is misplaced.

“A vast majority of the opposition you could say was about this project, but it was about the zoning,” Blank said. “They’re unhappy with the zoning and TOD regulations. Folks that didn’t like the zone change came out to oppose the project.”

Reviews conducted by the city’s traffic engineer and a traffic engineer hired by the developers found that the project would not cause further traffic congestion and said
that the project “will in fact improve public safety by the creation of on-street parking, bike lanes, crosswalks, sidewalks and a redesign of the Gregory/Cemetery intersection.”

Another concern expressed by residents includes environmental impacts, which the developer said will be minimal. A third-party wetlands scientist and landscape architect found that the project will have no significant adverse impacts to coastal resources, according to the environmental assessment.

Planning and Zoning Commission members encouraged residents to approach the project differently and assured them the city is expanding responsibly.

“I know how passionate everybody feels about this. There’s a lot of fear and a lot of anger,” commission member Mike Mushak said. “We’re not growing at some outrageous rate, it may seem that way because people see apartment buildings and it looks like we're building a lot, but we’re building smartly. We’re building near transit. We are doing smart growth, this project is that kind of growth.”

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.

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