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Hoyt St. Project Worries School Board

The Darien Board of Education voiced concerns over the effect the proposed Hoyt Street affordable housing development might have on student safety. Board member Morgan Whittier was troubled by the bypass lane that would be added to Hoyt Street, reducing room for pedestrians.

"I've had first-hand experience with the conditions on Hoyt Street, having had a child that went to Holmes," Whittier said at Tuesday’s board meeting. The development proposed by Chris and Margaret Stefanoni would be 470 feet from Holmes Elementary. "To widen the street would make things worse. It's outrageous."

Superintendent Stephen Falcone said the board was asked by the Planning and Zoning Commission to submit comments on the proposed development for the next public hearing, which will be held Jan. 18. Falcone said the issues that came to him included the safety of the more than 100 students who walk and ride their bikes along the road.

"The safety issues you've outlined have jumped off the page for me," said board chair Kim Westcott. "I don't know quite what our role is in this, but it is our role to make sure the students are safe, so we can at least address that concern."

Heather Shea said, "The concern I have is about student enrollment." She pointed out that even though the development is for seniors, there is a possibility they might have grandchildren living with them. "We're stretched. We just had a major change in the Holmes district -- kids had to be moved to Tokeneke."

Other board members voiced similar concerns. One potentially positive asset Falcone pointed to was that a senior housing development could increase senior participation in the Holmes community.

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