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Wilton Commons Gets Extension to Finish Deal

WILTON, Conn. – A nearly unanimous vote of Wilton residents Thursday night approved an extension of the town's lease agreement with Wilton Commons until next spring. 

The option allows the Wilton Commons to continue pursuing its plan to build an affordable senior living facility in town.

“I think I’ve been quoted as saying that we hope to have Wilton Commons as a Christmas present to the town. We are awfully close to being able to do that,” said Larry Kluetsch, executive director of Mutual Housing, a nonprofit developer working on Wilton Commons.

The final hand-counted vote was 113-1 at a special town meeting at Middlebrook School. The six-month extension will allow Wilton Commons to finalize financial agreements with state and equity backers, which is expected by the middle of this month.

The extension was only a precaution, said First Selectman Bill Brennan. An earlier option extended the deal for a year in 2010 to Dec. 8, 2011. The new extension will last through June 8, 2012.

George Ciaccio, chairman of Wilton Commons, said more than 150 applications had been received for the 51 units, adding that with future financing another 20 to 23 units would be built.

The lone dissenter was 85-year-old Milton Pohl, who disagrees with the whole project. He said it was sold to the town under false pretenses – that the affordable living would be for senior Wilton residents.

“I believe that Wilton money should go for Wilton purposes and Wilton people,” Pohl said. He compared the project with Ogden House, where about 20 percent of those living in that senior living facility had been town residents before moving in. “For a project where we contributed $2.5 million worth of land, to have 20 percent of the 51 units - so 51 people – 20 percent is 10 people.”

Pohl said the land could have been put to better use through an office building, which would have given the town more revenue through the real estate taxes. And Wilton Common’s has a lease with the town for 85 years.

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