Stevenson talks development at annual ‘State of Darien,’ addresses local business community

First Selectman Jayme Stevenson at a breakfast hosted by the Darien Chamber of Commerce at The Goose on March 27, 2018.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson at a breakfast hosted by the Darien Chamber of Commerce at The Goose on March 27, 2018.Humberto J. Rocha / Hearst Connecticut Media

DARIEN — Upcoming developments in Noroton Heights are expected to break ground later this year and Darien business owners are preparing for what they see as a surge in traffic and customers.

Local business owners and members of the Darien Chamber of Commerce posed questions Tuesday morning for First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, ranging from the upcoming developments to tolls.

“We were talking about these new developments and some concerns were voiced over how we would manage the town and our businesses and the flow of people while these projects are going,” said Jack Horner, Chamber of Commerce chairman, during Stevenson’s state of the town address to local business owners at The Goose.

Stevenson responded that traffic plans would be up to the developers.

“It’s certainly in their interest that there is no business interruption,” the first selectman said. “They may help some of the tenants relocate temporarily so those small retailers can remain to be vibrant. The traffic that will be created will require a sophisticated traffic plan and I don’t think developers are quite to that point.”

The Noroton Heights Shopping Center site plan, led by Palmer’s Market, was approved in May by the Planning and Zoning Commission. It’s slated to bring 59 residential units and first-floor retail.

Additionally, the site plan for the Commons at Noroton Heights, Federal Realty’s plan, was approved in September. The plans include three new buildings with 122 residential units, 55 two-bedroom and 67 one-bedroom units and commercial space on the first floor.

“Some developments we’re seeing already and some we’re on the eve of seeing,” Stevenson said. “These redevelopments will create more opportunities for families and folks to move into our communities when we have state-of-the-art commercial redevelopment.”

Stevenson said she expected the projects to break ground this summer or fall.

The Board of Selectmen, who also serve as the Parking Authority, are also expected to consider ways of making parking more accessible as the developments are expected to bring in more customers.

“We will maybe look at new and innovative ways of parking. It’s going to take careful work with the developer,” Stevenson said.

Local business owners also expressed worry over the installment of highway tolls in the future.

When asked what most concerned him, Bill Jensen, owner of Darien Toy Box said: “Tolls.”

“Anything that’s a tax, because it will affect people’s pockets and our customers,” he added.

Jensen was one of about 35 members of the Chamber of Commerce at the “State of Darien” address at the Post Road bistro. Republican Selectman Susan Marks also attended Tuesday’s event hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.