Zoners extend overlay zone hearing to Jan. 2

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted Tuesday, Dec. 19, to leave affordable housing priced according to 60% of the state median income off the table as part of its “mixed use overlay zone” proposal that aims to draw developers away from the state’s 8-30g law.

That decision came after commissioners expressed doubt that including the lower-income housing rule would still incentivize developers enough to venture away from an 8-30g application.

“To play devil’s advocate,” said commissioner John Katz, “Ridgefield is never going to be a geography that allows anyone to live here that wants to.”

The commission-initiated proposal will get a third public hearing Tuesday, Jan. 2.

Under 8-30g, a developer may circumvent local zoning restrictions for height, housing density, or lot coverage — something the commission fears could alter the character of the town.

In exchange, the developer is required to set aside 30% of available units to be designated as affordable housing (the figure is rounded up). Of the 30% of housing units set aside, 15% have to be rented at 60% of the state median income level, while the other half can be rented at 80%. The state designates that renters can spend no more than 30% of their income on housing costs.

Katz put his support behind the original proposal set out by Assistant Planner Adam Schnell, which would see 30% of housing units built in the commission’s “mixed-use overlay zone” set aside for affordable housing at 80% of the state median income.

“I’m definitely in the 80% category,” Katz said. “We need to take into account that we can’t be everything to everybody.”