When it comes to parking, Darien opts out of state regulations to better serve its ‘unique needs‘

Town Hall in Darien.

Town Hall in Darien.

Kristen Willoughby /Contributed

DARIEN — The town will officially adhere to its own parking standards for new developments after the Representative Town Meeting voted in favor of opting out of state-mandated parking regulations.

The RTM vote on Monday was the final step in the months-long process necessary for Darien to not adopt a recent state law that requires developers to include one parking spot for every studio or one-bedroom unit and two spaces for every unit with two bedrooms or more.

The state law does not fit the Darien community, which needs more parking spaces, town officials have said, leading the push for the opt-out decision.

During its Oct. 12 meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 6-0 to opt out of the parking regulations. That move was echoed Monday by the RTM, with 99 percent of those present also voting to opt out. Both the commission and RTM had to approve opting out by a two-thirds majority.

“The commission made the finding that the town’s adopted regulations best served the unique needs of Darien,” Steve Olvany, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, said during Monday’s virtual hearing.

In September, Darien’s Planning and Zoning Commission made its own changes to parking requirements for these projects. Under the town regulations, one spot would be required for every studio unit, 1.5 spaces for every one-bedroom unit, two spaces for every two-bedroom unit and 2.5 spaces for every unit with three or more bedrooms.

The commission had many reasons for making their decision, Olvany said, taking into account that the town has a different approach to parking standards than that of Hartford. Abiding by the state’s regulations would ignore that most Darien residences have more parking demands with multiple drivers at each home, he said.

The town is not uniformly walkable, either, so most residents have at least one car and often more, Olvany said.

Also, many of the roads in town lack sufficient space for on-street parking, raising potential safety concerns, said Amy Barsanti, chairman of the RTM’s Planning, Zoning and Housing Committee.

“The committee believes that the well-vetted and thoughtfully deliberated standards previously enacted by the commission to be the best option for the town of Darien,” Barsanti said.