Ridgefield to use $50K grant for affordable housing study

RIDGEFIELD — More than a year after the Board of Selectmen approved its application, the Ridgefield Affordable Housing Committee has secured a $50,000 state grant to conduct a feasibility study to determine if a parcel of land on Prospect Ridge is suitable for an affordable housing development.

The roughly 15-acre parcel of town-owned land is located south of Halpin Lane and west of the Ridgefield Rail Trail, and sits adjacent to an existing affordable housing development. The parcel encompasses a corner of that lot and a portion of two lots south of that, according to Committee Chairman Dave Goldenberg.

“With a development of this potential size, we wanted to understand better what the impact will be — for better or worse — on the community,” he said. The findings, he added, will “be able to help the town make an informed decision about whether or not (the land is) suitable for development.”

The study will examine the impact of potential development on the environment, sewer capacity, schools, traffic and public services. It will also determine the economic feasibility of the development and how best to “apportion the housing,” Goldenberg said. This includes the total number of rental units and whether those would be restricted based on age or income.

The committee is now preparing a request-for-proposal to hire a consultant to conduct the study, which will take a few months to complete. The findings would then go before the Board of Selectmen for a vote and then to a public hearing if approved.

“Anybody who has anything to say on this will be heard,” Goldenberg said.

The study is being conducted in conjunction with the Ridgefield Housing Authority (RHA), which will develop and manage the project if it is deemed feasible. The authority currently owns and operates 152 units of affordable housing within the town.

“I’m excited at the prospect of broadening Ridgefield’s housing options,” RHA Director Frank Coyle said in a statement. “This development can meet the needs of Ridgefield seniors, people with disabilities, lower-income households and those with long commutes to their jobs in town.”

Goldenberg said the project could qualify Ridgefield for another four-year moratorium from 8-30g. The statute states that if a town has fewer than 10 percent affordable housing options, a developer can override local zoning laws to build multi-family housing of any size, provided there are no health and safety issues.

By maintaining local control, the town can ensure the development is consistent with the neighborhood, Goldenberg said.

“We have a real need for family housing … (and) housing with adults for disabilities,” he added, “and the study will look at all of that and determine the best mix.”

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com