Zoners approve affordable housing ‘overlay zone’

Ridgefield's Planning and Zoning Commission voted to approve a ‘mixed use overlay zone’ aimed at enticing potential developers away from the state’s 8-30g affordable housing law at its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 2.

Under the state's affordable housing regulation, a developer can supplant local zoning restrictions on height, density, and lot coverage, so long as the developer agrees to set aside 30% of the available housing units as designated affordable housing. 

The commission voted 8-0 in favor of the overlay zone, with commissioner Tim Dunphy abstaining due to an absence at the commission’s last hearing in December.

At that December hearing — the second of three hearings for the mixed-use zone, the commission voted not to include a provision for affordable housing at 60% of the state median income level, something the state’s 8-30g law requires developers to include in the designated affordable housing units. Doing so would further incentivize developers to stay within the town’s zoning regulations, commissioners argued, rather than turning to 8-30g.

Assistant Planner Adam Schnell, who developed the plan over the course of more than 18 months on the commission’s behalf, said that the only modification he’d made from the plan’s last public hearing was that “when calculating the number of affordable housing units to be set aside fractions shall be rounded up to the next whole number.”

Schnell said seeing the project come to a close was “bittersweet.”

Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti said the process had been made better for his contributions. “Adam, thank you for all your hard work with all this,” she said.

The town's four-year moratorium on 8-30g applications expires in October.

The new regulation goes into affect Friday, Jan. 12.