Ridgefield’s affordable housing plan takes steps toward final approval after ‘incorporating feedback’

Ridgefield Town Hall

Ridgefield Town Hall

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RIDGEFIELD — The town’s proposed affordable housing plan — which calls for creating 125 units of housing in five years — is taking its final steps toward gaining approval.

The Planning & Zoning Commission on July 26 unanimously endorsed plan, which goes next to the Board of Selectmen for a vote.

When the Affordable Housing Committee met the next day, Chair David Goldenberg said the members discussed how to begin implementing some of the plan’s recommendations.

“I’ve read a lot of plans, and I think our plan stands out in two ways,” Goldenberg said. “One is it’s really focused on the locality and the other is that the recommendations are substantive. We are looking to create 125 units of affordable housing in Ridgefield over the next five years — which is pretty ambitious, I think. But by following the recommendations of the plan, I think we can get there.”

Moreover, he said his confidence in Ridgefield’s proposed affordable housing plan “comes from the fact that this was an inclusive development process.”

“We received feedback and we incorporated the feedback, so their concerns and objections have been largely, if not completely, addressed,” Goldenberg said.

The committee must also do a final proofreading and add some appendixes, he said.

The Planning & Zoning Commission is looking to develop an inclusionary zoning regulation, which is allowed by state law and establishes requirements to promote affordable housing, Goldenberg said.

The regulation would require developers to set aside a certain proportion of multifamily units as affordable housing units, he said. In some inclusionary zoning regulations, he said, developers can set aside units or make payments — instead of the “set asides” — to a trust fund, such as the one the Affordable Housing Committee is working on for affordable housing in Ridgefield.

Now that the Planning & Zoning Commission has approved a letter of endorsement, Goldenberg said the plan’s official “approval” must come from the Board of Selectmen, which is likely to vote in August or September.

After that vote, the plan would be sent to the state and implementation would begin shortly thereafter.

Ridgefield’s last full affordable housing plan was compiled in 1999. The process of developing a new affordable housing plan kicked off with a public input session in November.

The committee worked with a consultant, Glenn Chalder of Planimetrics, who helped the committee gather data, conduct a survey and complete the framework for the plan’s recommendations, Goldenberg said.

The committee looked at all the research and data to develop the plan’s recommendations, he said, eventually creating a draft. Public information sessions were held April 20 and May 7, followed by a presentation to the Planning & Zoning Commission and the Board of Selectmen.

A public hearing was held before the Board of Selectmen on May 25, during which time Goldenberg said they received feedback from the public, the Planning & Zoning Commission and the Board of Selectmen.

Though some Ridgefield residents welcomed the housing options outlined in the proposed plan, other residents voiced concerns that the plan would change Ridgefield, that properties would be earmarked for affordable housing development and that changes to the local zoning might change the town’s character.

After incorporating the feedback “as best we could into the plan,” Goldenberg said the committee created a final draft that was presented to the Board of Selectmen and the Planning & Zoning Commission. It can be found at the town of Ridgefield’s website at www.ridgefieldct.org/sites/g/files/vyhlif4916/f/uploads/the_home_front_2022_7-13_final.pdf.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi said he will notify the state Office of Policy and Management that the town needs until Sept. 21 to deliver its mandated affordable housing plan, which had been required to be completed June 1.

The plan is part of meeting the requirements of section 8-30g of the Connecticut General Statutes, which encourages towns with less than 10 percent of its housing stock considered “affordable” to develop more. Affordable housing is defined as costing less than 30 percent of the income of a household earning 80 percent or less of the area’s median income.