GOP View: A critical issue
Community character is important to Ridgefield residents. Over the years, residents have consistently indicated that community character, amenities and good schools are the attributes that first attracted them to Ridgefield and continues to contribute to their quality of life today.
In my recent conversations with residents, they told me that the greatest challenges facing Ridgefield today are retaining the charm and historic character of our town, reinvigorating our business community, overdevelopment, and controlling taxes.
Democratic lawmakers seem to ignore the will of residents by planning for significant changes to our local zoning and affordable housing laws during the 2021 legislative session. Some of the measures they’re pushing to adopt include removing local control of our zoning and land use restrictions, eliminating consideration of the “character” of the town when approving affordable housing projects, mandating that 10 percent of our land be zoned for multifamily housing or mixed-use buildings, instituting a wealth tax on towns that can’t meet the 10 percent threshold for affordable housing, eliminating single-family zoning laws altogether, and allowing neighboring town housing authorities to submit applications for affordable housing projects 15 miles into adjacent towns. The bottom line is that Ridgefielders would no longer have any control over development in our town.
Affordable housing initiatives need to take into account the specific challenges faced by the creation of high-density housing in small suburban and rural communities. Since our buildable land is limited, will our open space areas need to be compromised? Our goal is to have 30 percent of our town devoted to open space. Will that be sacrificed or will they just take private property through eminent domain? Will our aquifer be strained under additional heavy water demand? Will our new sewer system upgrade need to be scrapped so an enlarged system can be installed?
With a massive influx of high-density, multi-family housing comes a heightened need for an expanded police force, fire department, Human Services Department, infrastructure demands and, notably, greater school district capacity. The increased tax burden will fall on our largely single-family home community while the new low-income residents would be largely exempt.
I support efforts to provide affordable housing solutions locally that are based on our town’s needs, are market based, and that do not lower property values. Consideration must also be given to the restrictions and historic preservation ideals of our town.
Additionally, giving the state legislators more control over our town will not address the social concerns that Hartford’s Democratic proponents contend it will. Instead, it will open a Pandora’s Box of new requirements such as a need for bus and other transportation modes, and jobs that are not locally available. Watch for a mandate for the Southwestern Connecticut Council of Governments to have regional taxing power (common in other locales around the country), as well as control over transportation, schools, roads, libraries, etc., which is already in their mandated authority from the state.
This can only destroy the beauty, character, and charm, as well as property values, of Ridgefield forever.