Demolition in historic area? Affordable project would remove houses

A modest Queen Ann Victorian with two apartments and a smaller two-family house behind it would be demolished to make room for a nine-unit affordable housing project on a half-acre at 5 North Salem Road in the Titicus Hill Historic District.

The redevelopment proposal — submitted under the state affordable housing statute 8-30g — will be considered at a public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday, Sept. 24, in the town hall annex. It is one of two public hearings on the agenda of a meeting set to start at 7:30.

The property, owned by Kung H. Wei, is on the west side of North Salem Road near its three-way intersection with Main Street and Danbury Road — between the Citbank parking area, across from Tony’s Deli, and a 15-unit affordable housing property developed at 7 North Salem Road by Michael Eppoliti.

During the lengthy approval process for the Eppoliti project, neighbors’ concerns about stormwater runoff were a major point of discussion.

Under Kung Wei’s plan, the pair of two-family houses there now would be removed and a new nine-unit apartment house built, with a 19-car parking lot in front — between the proposed new building and North Salem Road.

The area is an R-20 zone, which allows houses on lots of 20,000 square feet each.

Titicus Hill

The development site is also part of the Titicus Hill Historic District, which extends down the west side of North Salem Road from the site of the proposed development to New Street — a swath of mostly late 19th- and early 20th-Century houses across from the cemetery.

The Titcus Hill Historic District was accepted in 2012 for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and the Connecticut Register of Historic Places.

Those designations do not, however, carry the limitations on what can be done to properties that are enforced by the Historic District Commission along Main Street, from Governor Street south past the fountain.

Three affordable

Under the state’s 8-30g statute, developers can ignore most local zoning regulations if 30% of the units in a development — in these case, three of the nine — meet state affordability guidelines, and are “set aside” to be rented under those rules for 40 years.

“The applicant is seeking approval of a nine-unit multifamily dwelling that meets the definition of a ‘set-aside development’ under Connecticut General Statute 8-30g, with three units to be affordable for a period of 40 years in accordance with the statute,” said a cover letter that attorney Robert Jewell submitted with the application.

The application includes an affordability plan detailing how the property would be managed to meet the 8-30g statute’s guidelines.

That state requires that 30% of dwelling units set aside as affordable, split between apartments within financial reach of families at 80% of the state median income, and families at 60 percent of the median income.

Of the new building’s three “set-aside” units — two would be affordable by families earning 60 percent of state median income, and one affordable by a family making 80% of the state median.

Calculated from a state median income of $96,300, the maximum rent for the unit affordable for families at 80 percent of median would be $1,578 a month, and for the two units set aside for families making 60 percent or less of the state median, the maximum rents would be $1,145 a month.

The application on file at the planning office in the town hall annex.