Connecticut Sinks The Affordable Housing Hook Into Slippery Communities

Avon, Connecticut photo by Doug Kerr Follow is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
An attractive, upscale Connecticut community lacking affordable housing.

In the midst of a global affordable housing crisis affecting many nations, NIMBY is a rallying cry for entire communities. A major defensive weapon is zoning — manipulating the ‘who and where and why’ of community planning to exclude affordable housing in all of its apparently many undesirable flavors.

So far, two American states have challenged their own balky communities with forms of state ‘affordable zoning.’ First Massachusetts and then Connecticut have allowed developers to apply for special state zoning, which supersedes local zoning by-laws when a developer agrees to include a percentage of affordable housing in a project. This state ‘affordable zoning’ allows a developer to sidestep local density requirements, height requirements,or other zoning that might cause a development application to fail, save those in particular that endanger safety.

To suggest that communities in Connecticut have been disgruntled by state statute ‘8-30g’ would be an understatement. However the only communities affected are those which fail to have a legislated minimum amount of affordable housing. As well, communities are free to pursue their own methods of acquiring affordable housing if they wish to do so, applying for exemption from statute 8-30g.

So far, 8-30g has not created a stampede of developers eager to take advantage of extra housing density permitted in an affordable housing zone. However, response to a recent affordable development application in Avon, Connecticut reflects the struggle of local residents to find safety concerns such as higher traffic density and . . . pesticides(?) that might allow  them to wriggle free of the state affordable housing hook. Read more in the Hartford Courant: Affordable Housing Plan Pending Before Avon Officials.

Meanwhile, Ridgefield, Connecticut, is attempting to create local zoning plans which would entice developers to build affordable housing without invoking the superseding state powers of 8-30g. Read more in the Zoners to review proposed mixed-use overlay zone for third time tonight — Tuesday, Jan. 2

A review of some of the basic characteristics of Connecticut statute 8-30g can be found in CTViewpoint:  The facts about state’s affordable housing statute


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