DeSegregate CT Director: Clarifying Misconceptions about “Work Live Ride”

Submitted by Peter Harrison, director of Desegregate CT

I am writing to respond to GFP’s recent article recapping my presentation of our Work Live Ride proposal at the Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission.

The article was well balanced, but repeated a number of errors or misconceptions voiced by attendees that I feel are important to clarify.

As I and several commissioners said in the meeting, while we won’t all see eye-to-eye on every issue, it is important that we all have the same accurate information to work with as we engage in a dialogue.

The first point I’ll address is the suggestion that the data in our proposal was inaccurate. This is likely a simple misunderstanding of our proposal. We have proposed three tiers of “Transit Oriented Communities” (Rapid Transit, Transit, Transit Adjacent) with varying density requirements based on whether the community has rapid bus/rail, local bus, or no bus or rail service. Within the “Rapid Transit” and “Transit” tiers, we have further subdivided density requirements based on population levels.

There was a suggestion that our proposal listed 40 communities with a population of over 60,000, which is not accurate. The proposal includes 40 communities designated as “Rapid Transit,” meaning they have either rapid bus or rail service (or both). This includes communities above and below 60,000 people. 

Second, at several points there were questions about how the changing nature of rail ridership post-Covid and the need for cars in general could justify building more density around rail or bus stations. I suggested that ‘if you build it, they will come.” This was challenged as naive or even reckless. However we only need to look at Greenwich’s own history to see that this is in fact a historically accurate assertion.

Greenwich’s four train stations were built before 1900 when the town’s population was 12,000. Within three decades, the population tripled. Greenwich’s own development history shows that centering homes, jobs, and services around transit reduces traffic, expands housing options, and increases the town’s tax base.

Finally, there was push back on the idea of “as of right” development. To clarify, “as of right” does not mean “do whatever you want.” It means that the requirements to build on a property are laid out in advance of a specific development; if a builder’s plan meets those requirements, according to the town planning office, then they are permitted to build without needing a special permit or a public hearing. If that sounds foreign to residents of Greenwich, it shouldn’t – 96% of land in Greenwich is already zoned for “as of right” development. The same thorough local process that has been used for decades for single-family homes in Greenwich can and should be applied to multi-family homes. 

I very much appreciated the opportunity to speak with the commission and look forward to an ongoing dialogue with good faith actors committed to tackling the staggering affordable housing crisis in Connecticut. Work Live Ride is an opportunity to explore a positive, economically sound vision for our communities and our state in the years ahead. We look forward to the opportunity to continue to work together to realize that vision.


Pete Harrison

DesegregateCT Director