On Thursday, May 27 at 11:25 p.m., the state Senate passed a key zoning reform measure, HB 6107, that was passed by the House of Representatives just days before.

Supporters of the legislation say it addresses the barriers to more affordable and more diverse housing options across the state, aiming at “exclusionary” zoning regulations that have prevented developers from building more affordable housing and/or multifamily developments in many municipalities.

The bill, which some proponents have called “watered down” after months of legislative debate and protest of more controversial and far-reaching proposals, passed the Senate in a 23-13 vote. The critical vote now advances the set of zoning reforms to the governor’s desk before becoming law.

Wilton’s Sen. Will Haskell (D-26) voted in favor of the bill, much to the frustration of some constituents who saw the vote as a reversal of his campaign promise not to support legislation that would interfere with local planning and zoning (P&Z) authority. Haskell maintains the bill does not diminish local control.

Two key parts of the legislation — allowing accessory dwelling units on single-family properties without a special permit from the town (something Wilton already had in place) and a limit on the number of parking spaces a town could require — are intended to facilitate more “middle housing” in towns like Wilton. But with an “opt-out” of those requirements in the bill, they are not state mandates.

Another key element in the bill is the elimination of “character” from the decision-making process by town P&Z officials, in favor of “physical site characteristics” which they would have to define more precisely.

The bill also establishes the creation of a working group to further study issues of affordable housing and zoning across the state, including the task of a model code system that would encourage local towns to update and overhaul their processes.

For more details of the bill, including GMW‘s interviews with local leaders and elected state representatives, read our coverage of the bill’s passage in the House of Representatives.

GMW Had It Covered

GOOD Morning Wilton has covered the zoning reform debate extensively, as early as September 2020 with the article, “Issues on the Horizon: ‘Regionalized’ Housing, Planning and Land Use”, followed by our coverage of political candidates during the 2020 election season and several letters to the editor on the subject.

More recently, we helped our readers make sense of the numerous proposals that were being considered by the state legislature before HB 6107 was ultimately put forward for a vote. As part of that reporting, we included First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice‘s views of what the legislation might mean for Wilton as well as in-depth interviews with Wilton planning and zoning officials.

GMW recognizes that the topic of zoning reform, like the topic of regionalized schools, garners special attention for many Wilton residents. But we’d like to remind readers that the mission of GMW is hyperlocal coverage of Wilton news. While state laws will impact Wilton, we don’t routinely report on the legislative process in Hartford, and recommend our readers look to statewide publications like CTNewsJunkie.com and CTMirror.org who have the resources to dedicate to those issues.