Great Hill Road subdivision to include affordable housing, land donation

Zoning commission to host public hearing Dec. 18

A trio of 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom homes have been proposed to be built on a three-lot subdivision at 28 Great Hill Road.

One of the homes would be set aside as affordable housing for a family making 60% of the state median income.

That allows the subdivision to fall under the state’s affordable housing law, 8-30g, and lets the developer breakup the lot into smaller parcels that are typically not permitted by the town.

“I believe that this allows new homes to be built that are affordable instead of someone coming in and spending $800,000 on a new home, ”said Richard Szentkuti, president of CV Building Concepts, the Ridgefield firm that submitted the application.

“There’s a need for that in this town, a definite need.”

The Planning and Zoning Department received the application on Oct. 5. The plans are to divvy up a three-acre parcel of land into three lots — two of about a half-acre, and a third about three-quarters of an acre in size.

The remaining parcel — a little more than an acre of land to the south — would be donated to the town as open space.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi said the Board of Selectmen will have to vote on whether or not to accept the donated land, if the application is approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The town will also review whether there are any environmental concerns with the donated parcel.

The land would be managed by the town Conservation Commission if the town approves the donation, Marconi said.

Pandora’s box

The affordable home would probably sell for around $211,751, according to the application’s affordable housing declaration.

Szentkuti said the affordable home would be restricted to a family making a maximum of $98,300 per year.

The application was filed under the affordable housing law because it allows them to get around the town’s two-acre lot size restrictions in the residential neighborhood, he confirmed.

Under the 8-30g affordable housing law, the state allows developers to circumvent local zoning restrictions.

In exchange, the developer agrees to set aside 30% of the available housing units as affordable homes for 40 years.

But Marconi characterized the development as “opening Pandora’s box,” because the housing density could change the character of the neighborhood.

“[The law is] meant to be in areas where you have infrastructure and transportation” — including sewer systems, he told The Press.

He raised concern about the long-term reliability of using septic systems for higher-density housing.

Each of the homes proposed at Great Hill Road would have its own well and septic system, according to the application. The three houses would each have a two-car garage, and share an access road that would be built as part of the project.

The file does not say how much the two market-rate homes would be listed for, but Szentkuti indicated both would be entry-level homes.

The smaller land parcels would also keep the price down, he said.

“Unfortunately the land value in this town is so expensive, that the house has to reflect that,” Szentkuti told The Press.

‘Third party’

Under the plan’s affordable housing declaration, the developer “may identify a third party administrator” to ensure the home’s affordability plan is followed — which may include the Ridgefield Housing Authority.

There was a house on the lot previously, but it has since been removed, the application shows.

The affordable home would be built not far from where the original house that was torn down once stood.

If a buyer purchases the home and resells it within 40 years, the home must still be sold to someone meeting the 60% state median income, the declaration states.

If the residents’ income goes up over the 60% threshold, they would have to give notice and move out within 60 days.

Schedule

Szentkuti said residents he’s talked to about the plan have been positive, adding that the planned homes match the size and style of the house that was there before.

A public hearing on the application has been set for Dec. 18.

Planning and Zoning Director Richard Baldelli said on Oct. 9 that the fact that the town does not currently have an engineer — Charlie Fisher retired in late August — is part of the delay in bringing the application to a public hearing.

The town has hired Bryan Nesteriak of B&B Engineering in Seymour to review the application.

“This is the first time you’ll be getting a subdivision 8-30g, and we want to make sure we do it correctly,” Baldelli told the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Szentkuti said he hopes to have the project completed by June if it’s approved by the commission.

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