1995 Regional Plan Map of the South Western Region - no changes in land use goals or policies in the eight towns in the ensuing decade.

Map above is the SWRPA region as depicted on the CT Plan of C&D 2005-2010 - SWRPA adopted a new Plan which contained maps drawn from its own research plus the State Plan of Conservation and Development 2005-2010.

More workers commuting to lower Fairfield County, data show

By Mark Ginocchio

Published October 30 2005

The daytime populations -- New census data give credence to the idea that lower Fairfield County has shed its bedroom community image in favor of burgeoning business and employment.  The number of people, including workers, present during normal business hours -- of many lower Fairfield County communities have received a significant boost thanks to incoming commuters. Westport and Stamford had the largest gains in daytime population in lower Fairfield County, while Norwalk and Darien also saw increases, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates based on Census 2000 data.  Westport's estimated daytime population was 32,920 -- 27.8 percent more than its resident population of 25,749.

"We're not surprised to hear this because we've known for some time that we have some very attractive office space here," Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell said.

While cities such as Stamford and Norwalk may attract large corporations, Westport has been able to increase its daytime populace with employees working for smaller businesses such as hedge funds and financial management firms, Farrell said.  About 18,600 people were employed in Westport, with 11,442 living in town, according to census data. Thousands of other employees are commuting from Bridgeport, Fairfield and Norwalk, data show.

Stamford's estimated daytime population was 138,254, 18 percent above the resident population of 117,083.

"We have always been a major employment center," Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy said. "And these statistics help dispel the image the rest of the world may have of us as a bedroom community."  A significant influx of commuters provides its own challenges in housing and transportation, Malloy said.

"We are not able to house every person who wants to work here," he said. "And we need to make the commuter rail a better experience for people coming from both directions."  Almost 2,500 people "reverse commute" to Stamford from Manhattan and the Bronx, N.Y., according to census data, and several also come from Norwalk, Greenwich, Fairfield and Bridgeport.

The daytime populations of Darien and Norwalk also have increased, according to the census. Darien's work-hours population jumped 5.3 percent and Norwalk's 1.5 percent.

Greenwich, Wilton, Weston and New Canaan were not included in the census report.  Norwalk officials said they viewed the census data as positive, despite having a smaller population percentage gain than other lower Fairfield County communities.

With a resident population of 82,951 and about 45,264 workers in Norwalk, a net gain of 1.5 percent is evidence that the city imports as many commuters as it exports.

"Which is why there's gridlock on (Interstate) 95," said Timothy Sheehan, executive director of the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency. "But it also drives home the fact that Norwalk is a large importer of jobs for Fairfield County."

The across-the-board population increases in lower Fairfield County municipalities listed in the report is excellent news for the economy of the region, transportation planners and business experts said.

"It's an indicator of how healthy the region is," said Robert Wilson, executive director of the South Western Regional Planning Agency.

"It's also very good for the retail base. A large influx of commuters provides many with an opportunity build a customer base."

And while a higher daytime population may lead to problems such as more traffic congestion, economic growth in lower Fairfield County is ultimately beneficial, said Lisa Mercurio, spokeswoman for the Business Council of Fairfield County.

"These are the areas where we would want to see that growth," Mercurio said.

"Growth is happening where it can be sustained."

South Western Region section of State Plan of C&D Map, 2004-2009 (scan down):

Changes to State Plan of C&D 2004-2009 Map:

"Greenways" Map: