Ridgefield affordable housing project still faces roadblock
RIDGEFIELD — The nine-unit apartment house proposed on an acre in Ridgebury remains in limbo, First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the Board of Selectmen.
“I don’t know why they keep calling our attorney and my office, antsy: ‘We’d like to get going,’ ” Marconi said.
“Until the fire marshal signs off on it, there’s nothing to talk about,” he said. “And they need to go back to fire marshal and comply with code.”
Marconi updated board members on the situation during the selectmen’s first meeting in September.
The developers of the property, Black Oaks LLC, have sought to repair and use a portion of Turner Road that has gone unused and hasn’t been maintained for years. The developers argue that since there is no record of town voters acting to formally abandon the street, it is still a town road and properties with frontage have a right to use it for travel.
“It’s not abandoned. It’s blocked, and cut-off — that’s different from legal abandonment,” Black Oaks’ attorney, Brian Smith, said at a February selectmen’s meeting.
Among the problems with the proposed plan, according to Marconi, are questions about adequate access to the site by fire trucks and the steepness of the road.
“The grade is 14 percent. Our regulations say you can’t exceed 12 percent,” he told the selectmen on Sept. 2.
The nine-unit affordable housing development is proposed in a single building on slightly over an acre at the intersection of Turner Road and Barnum Place. The building would be three stories in the front and two stories in the back due to the sloping site.
State affordable law
The townhouse units would each be about 2,200 square feet, with two, three-bedroom townhouses — one at either end of the building — with seven, two-bedroom units in between. Each of the nine units would have a one-car garage and one outdoor driveway space, with four visitor parking spaces outside — accommodating a total of 22 cars. Three of the nine units are proposed to meet the state’s affordability standards, allowing the project to be submitted under the state’s 8-30g affordable housing law.
Neighbors, mostly from the Turner Hill neighborhood of single-family homes, have strongly opposed the project. Their neighborhood pool is directly across from the development site.
“Seventy children ride bicycles, scooters and run through the neighborhood,” Harold Moroknek, spokesman for about 40 Turner Hill neighbors, said at a Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing in January.
During a selectmen’s meeting in February — when the roadway issue was on the agenda — another sizable crowd turned out, and a petition against the plan, signed by 400 people, was presented.
The Planning and Zoning Commission approved the plan in May. The state’s 8-30g affordable housing law severely limits the grounds on which town zoning authorities can deny projects with 30 percent affordable units.
But the use of Turner Road remains an issue to be resolved.