To the Editor:
The CT House will soon hold a vote on an omnibus bill that is expected to combine components of the Fair Share bill, the Work-Life-Ride bill, and the Governor’s Municipal Development Authority bill. That means now is the time to contact our state legislators, State Sen. Ceci Maher via email and State Rep. Keith Denning via email.
For a refresher on the impact to municipalities, please listen to WestCOG Executive Director Francis Pickering’s answer to a question about the bills at last week’s Housing Committee Panel Discussion. The answer begins at 1 hour 8 minutes, shown here:
As Francis notes, the CT proposals are more punitive for municipalities than the laws in New Jersey and Massachusetts on which they are based.
Below is a message received from the Connecticut Council of Small Towns, of which Wilton is a member.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
Lynne A. Vanderslice
From the Connecticut Council of Small Towns
A vote on various measures aimed at addressing affordable housing and increasing housing production is expected in the House.
Separate bills pending before the legislature are expected to be combined into one bill which may include the following provisions:
- Rigid “fair share” housing mandates will subject municipalities to costly lawsuits for failure to develop fair share housing plans or create a “realistic opportunity” to meet the municipal fair share allocation. In New Jersey, Fair Share Housing mandates have subjected hundreds of municipalities to lawsuits, costing towns and taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Under Fair Share Housing Mandates, if a town fails to submit a plan to OPM or adhere to a prescribed compliance schedule, municipalities will be subject to a “default zoning scheme” which overrides local zoning to mandate as-of-right multi-family housing development.
- Provisions under consideration would shut municipalities out of funding for brownfields remediation, economic development, and other municipal grants unless they meet restrictive as-of-right housing density requirements within a half-mile of a transit or bus station.
- Requires municipalities to develop comprehensive plans to “affirmatively further fair housing” and demonstrate how the town will overcome patterns of segregation, promote equity in housing and community assets, foster inclusive communities without barriers, and specify how the municipality will meet these goals.
Both “default zoning schemes” under discussion would, in Wilton’s case, mean a mandatory density of 20 units per acre in places where the infrastructure will support them; that’s quite different from the sorts of buildings people generally get upset about. (the new 8-30g project on Hubbard Rd is more like 60-70 per acre, I think) There’s a very helpful guide for visualizing this stuff at:
A bunch of smallish 2-to-3 story detached buildings with lots of green space, basically; the sorts of developments you barely notice driving by them. (we have quite a few of those now and honestly I didn’t even realize we had so many until I looked at a satellite map)
There’s a lot of hyperbole about what happens if we don’t complete an acceptable zoning plan and have one imposed on us – which is indeed a possibility with the way our P&Z board has been working lately – but given the limitations of our infrastructure / topography and the relatively modest density requirements, it doesn’t seem all that bad to me; I’d much rather accomplish our affordable housing goals with a bunch of nice little medium-density projects like this than with 4-to-5 story Borg Cube monstrosities stuck where they don’t belong.
(that being said, I will totally understand if Maher and Denning vote against this, and frankly would even encourage that if it makes political sense for them; if the Democrats can’t pass a bill like this without relying on the votes of legislators in places like Wilton, they shouldn’t be trying to pass it at all)
Editor’s Note: The property in question is .62 acres, and 42 units are planned.
It would be nice to see some quotes/evidence.
from people that support the legislation in addition to ones that oppose it to provide comprehensive balanced reporting. I understand GMW has very limited resources and such things aren’t always possible, but I think it would help residents of Wilton understand what is happening and why better.
I’m tired of my small town lifestyle choices under constant attack! Politicians and developers need to stop telling us that small town living is no longer an option. I say, leave small towns alone! They are a life choice that is under attack and disappearing, and small town living will be forever lost to our children. Tell Wilton P&Z and Hartford to stop attacking and penalizing small town life-choices!
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