Letter: 143 Sound Beach Developers Using Clever Tactic to Distract

Letter to the editor submitted by Gib Gibson, March 6, 2017

Great advice from Mad Men’s advertising genius, Don Draper: “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”

His theory worked.  He was able change the subject from the dangers of smoking to a conversation about the brand that bragged, “Smoke mine. They’re toasted.”

Toasted just sounds good.   Everybody likes toast.  Toast is healthful, right?

This is exactly the clever tactic used by the developers of the 143 Sound Beach Avenue project.  They changed the conversation from real planning and zoning issues concerning their apartment building project’s height and size, the number of units, ground cover, excavation, traffic congestion, surface water run-off, wetlands, school capacities, and neighborhood character, to one that’s more “toasted”, i.e. “affordable housing”.

Actually, their project would not meet local P&Z guidelines were it not for the developers suddenly designating 20% of their 44 apartments as “affordable housing units”, because Connecticut State Statute 8-30g allows a developer to ask the courts to override local zoning decisions if developers make at least 10% of their units “affordable”.

The goal of the State’s affordable housing edict is not to create buildings that would not otherwise meet local codes.  To allow developers to bypass and override the local P&Z articles is a back door entry and disingenuous, in the least.

Where’s the talk about traffic congestion, over-crowding OG School, surface water runoff, protecting wetlands…?

It’s gone!

The developers’ conversation misdirection is intended to silence opposition to the project by accusing opponents of being anti affordable housing NIMBYs.

And there you have it.  The argument has been diverted from discussions about the merits of the project to accusations against the residents who oppose the project.  Classic misdirection.

The ‘conversation’ needs to be refocused on those merits and not on the nine ‘affordable’ units as though they were the only things being built.

Then there’s Sam Romeo, Chairman of the Greenwich Housing Authority. A true visionary, he has been very successful in providing opportunities for low to moderate-income families. The quality and quantity of affordable housing in Greenwich has been accomplished by Sam through fiscally responsible asset management of our Town resources, and developing partnerships with our residents.  Sam has never degraded the quality of life of others.  Rather, he has managed to find win-win situations for the Town and all interested parties.

The 143 Sound Beach Avenue project is not an affordable housing solution like those Sam Romeo and the Greenwich Housing Authority have managed to bring to our town.  It is a for profit commercial enterprise that should stand on its own merits and fit within our community P&Z guidelines.

Were it not for the ‘toasted’ wrapper of affordable housing around the discussion, the project would go up in smoke.

Robert C. Gibson, Jr. (Gib)
129 Sound Beach Avenue

See also:

UPDATE: Developers of 143 Sound Beach Ave Postpone P&Z Appearance

Neighbors Build Anticipation for Application for 44-Unit Residential Building in Old Greenwich Village

  • Aremeee@gmail.com

    Sounds like people don’t want affordable housing – and what that brings with it, to their beloved Old Greenwich. The developer is adhering to state law in regard to his development and apparently he shouldn’t. Hard to criticize someone who is following the letter of the law.

    • MARK campinell

      I think the author’s point was that the timing is a little convenient given all the balcklash that this project received. And while they are wisely using the law to their advantage, let’s not be so quick to anoint them humanitarians.

  • Aremeee@gmail.com

    The law is the law no matter the timing. If residents of Old Greenwich are truly interested in diversity they would support this project as it allows lower income residents all the benefits that Old Greenwich has to offer – great schools, beaches, easy transportation access and a robust social life. Diversity is good for everyone.

  • peterfalexander

    GREENWICH TOWN PLAN calls for conversion of former corporate headquarters buildings to Housing.Start with taxing based on value of condos in the multi story elevator serviced parking serviced existing buildings. Good example is Greenwich Plaza. It is on Town owned land and has a likely illegal 80 year lease at a donor payback rate. Elderly housing with live in help would end most of the computer traffic that Town including Old Greenwich suffers from. Add in easy access to Churches, Bars & Restaurants, Hospital etc. NORC winner, PC dollar chasing Spechitects losers.Start with demand Old Greenwich Village District NOW.