Affordable housing project approved on North Salem Road in Ridgefield
A nine-unit affordable housing project on half an acre at the top of North Salem Road, near its intersection with Main Street, was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday night, Nov. 12.
An 80% reduction in the current rate of stormwater runoff from the site at 5 North Salem Road was promised, as much of the third public hearing session on project was taken up with drainage issues.
Lori Mazzola of Ridgefield Voters United asked commissioners if they’d walked any New Street properties to see about the water problems reported by neighbors at previous hearings.
“We don’t have authority to trespass on private properties,” said commission Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti.
“The problem is, it’s happening,” Mazzola said of the flooding.
Dainius Verbickas of Artel Engineering Group explained the stormwater system proposed would help alleviate chronic stormwater problems reported by downhill neighbors on New Street. He promised an 80% reduction to the rate — though not the volume — of storm runoff that flows off the site.
The plan is to remove two older houses — one of them a 120-year-old Queen Ann-style Victorian — and put up a nine-unit apartment building.
The architecture of the proposed building was redesigned to reflect the look of the older front Queen Ann house that is being torn down, the developer’s attorney, Robert Jewell, told the commission.
This means one of the units would be rented at a rate affordable for someone making 80% of the state’s median income — currently $96,000 a year — and two units would be affordable at 60% of the median income. The rents would be $1,578 a month for the 80% unit and $1,145 for the 60% unit, Jewell said.
The property is owned by King H. Wei, and Jewell testified at one hearing that it was Wei’s intention to live on the property.
The plans had been revised to reduce the number of parking spaces from 19 to 13, with just four in front of the proposed building.
Conditions of approval included that a “right turn only” restriction on vehicles exiting the driveway to prevent cross-traffic turns near the busy intersection.
Several commissioners agreed after the 8-0 vote that the project was an example of how an affordable housing plan under the state’s 8-30g law — which frees developers from most zoning restrictions — could still be pursued collaboratively, with positive results such as the drainage, parking and architectural improvements made on proposal through its series of hearings.
“They can be very decent projects,” Commissioner John Katz said of the 8-30g developments.