Ridgefield condo owners insist their units aren’t ‘affordable housing’
Casagmo is in an uproar, triggered by First Selectmen Rudy Marconi’s suggestion that units in the Main Street condominium complex might help the town meet the state’s affordable housing requirements.
“As you may know, unit owners at Casagmo have invested heavily in recent years to renovate, repair and upgrade the complex,” James Hulbert, president of the Casagmo Phase II and Master Associations, said in a Jan. 17 letter to Marconi. “We have spent millions of dollars on siding and roofing replacement and are in process of completing a costly drainage/paving project. There have been other projects as well and future projects are planned.”
“These projects have been initiated to protect and increase the value of the property to the benefit of all unit owners as well as to improve the quality of life for our residents,” the letter reads. “These investments coupled with the prime location off historic Main Street, within walking distance of all the downtown amenities, is making Casagmo a more sought after and desirable place to live.”
Marconi discussed the 307-unit Casagmo and the 287-unit Fox Hill condominiums off Danbury Road at a Jan. 7 public hearing of the Planning and Zoning Commission, concerning revisions to the Town Plan of Conservation and Development.
Speakers at the hearing decried how the town’s affordable housing law allows developers to circumvent local zoning if 30 percent of the units in their proposed projects would meet state affordability guidelines. Marconi noted that the town would be exempt from this provision if 10 percent of all housing units in town were deemed affordable by the state, and deed restricted so that they’d remain affordable for the next 40 years.
Marconi had said many units in Casagmo and Fox Hill might be in a price range that would meet the state guidelines, but they’d need to be deed-restricted to satisfy the state requirement and count against the 10 percent needed to get out from under the town’s affordable housing law.
The Casagmo owners took umbrage with this.
“We want to let you know that we are caught off guard by your recent comments suggesting that the town should encourage units at Casagmo to become “deed restricted” as affordable so they can count toward the town having 10 percent of its housing stock meet state affordability standards,” Hulbert wrote.
“Your comments made to the Planning and Zoning Commission during discussion of the draft Plan of Conservation and Development for Ridgefield have been published by the local newspapers (Danbury News-Times, Ridgefield Press),” the letter reads. “Casagmo is a private community and we are disappointed these comments were made without first letting us know or contacting us to discuss.”
One of the concerns at the complex appears to be a fear that prices could be hurt just by being mentioned as a location where units might count against the state affordable housing requirement.
“We understand there is a real need for affordable housing in Ridgefield,” Hulbert wrote. “However, we also have a concern that your published comments could have a negative impact on the overall value of our property and of our unit owner investments.”
“For example, these comments introduce an unknown regarding the future of Casagmo and unknowns tend to concern potential buyers, leading them to wait and see what happens. Markets generally react negatively to uncertainty,” Hulbert said. “We also believe that the town government has no standing to force or encourage individual unit owners in a private condominium association to add deed restrictions which could change market value.”
Hulbert asked Marconi to “publicly retract” his comments.
Asked by The Press if he had a response, Marconi said the comments were just “an example of what we might consider.”