In an effort to protect local water resources and reduce overdevelopment throughout the state, State Representative John Frey (R-111) proposed two pieces of legislation to limit the density of certain housing development in watershed areas, and to exempt municipalities that meet certain requirements from the affordable housing appeals process.
Proposed Bill 5710 — An Act Concerning Density Requirements for Certain Affordable Housing Developments - would amend current law to require affordable housing developments with land in watershed areas have “not more than one dwelling unit per two acres.”
“Our natural resources are under constant pressure from overuse and real estate encroachment and this legislation would help protect the more sensitive areas of Ridgefield, and Connecticut, from over-development,” Rep. Frey said. “Reducing housing density to levels lower than previously allowed strikes a balance between our need for affordable housing in the state and preserving the nature and resources that make Connecticut a great place to live, work and raise a family.  We must be careful not to squander or destroy the bucolic areas of our state.”
Proposed Bill 6893 — An Act Concerning Exemptions From and Moratoriums On the Applicability of the Affordable Housing Land Use Appeals Procedure — would exempt municipalities in which at least eight per cent of the dwellings are assisted housing, currently financed by Connecticut Housing Finance Authority mortgages, subject to binding recorded deeds containing certain covenants or restrictions or certain mobile manufactured homes, from the affordable housing land use appeals procedure. The bill would also increase the moratorium period on the applicability of the appeals procedure to five years, if certain conditions are met.
“Knowing that land is not unlimited and overdevelopment can stress town services, including school systems and budgets, I proposed extending the moratorium to allow local officials to better plan for the future of their towns," Rep. Frey said.
The affordable housing land use appeals procedure (Sec. 8-30g in statute) requires municipalities to defend their decisions to reject or to approve affordable housing development with costly conditions. The appeals process has been used by developers to leverage significant power over municipalities. Generally, developers can contest a municipality’s decision if fewer than 10% of the municipality’s housing units are affordable, based on statutory criteria, and the municipality has not qualified for a moratorium. A municipality is eligible for the moratorium if it shows it has added a certain number of affordable units over the applicable time frame.  Ridgefield’s moratorium expired recently.
The bill has been referred to the legislative Housing committee and is awaiting action.  The 2019 legislative session ends at midnight on Wednesday, June 5.