DTC Chair: Kasser, Meskers Oppose the Very Proposals that RTC Chair Attacks

Submitted by Joe Angland, Chair, Democratic Town Committee

A recent letter to the editor from the Republican Town Committee Chair (Quigley: Democrats’ P&Z Legislation Is a Catastrophic Failure, March 14, 2021) attacked proposed legislation that would override certain local zoning ordinances and lamented what it described as the silence on the issue of the Town’s Democratic representatives in Hartford: Senator Alex Kasser and Representative Steve Meskers.

Sen. Kasser and Rep. Meskers have not been silent. In public speeches and emails to constituents they have opposed the very proposals that Mr. Quigley attacks in his letter.

A recent statement by Senator Kasser is instructive:

“I have stated publicly and continue to state that if it [the proposed legislation] comes before me in its current form, I will vote No. I oppose taking away local control of zoning. I’ve said it a hundred times, but some people continue to question my position. That’s political theater.” – Alex Kasser

Perhaps Mr. Quigley’s erroneous impression that Sen. Kasser and Rep. Meskers have ignored these issues is that, rather than simply wailing “local zoning is collapsing” in Chicken Little-like fashion, they have actually been working the problem.

The proposed legislation is in its early stages, and this is the time for serious legislators to work on constructive alternatives to flawed proposals.

Simply proclaiming that the pending legislation is problematic is not nearly enough. The legislation sprang from the failure of many towns, including Greenwich, to meet affordable housing goals, and the focus should be on how to better achieve those goals without undermining principles of great importance in our Town, such as preserving local control of zoning. That focus is warranted not only by the laudable nature of the goals, but by the reality that the failure to come up with better ways to achieve those goals could someday result in legislation that, over the opposition of both Republicans and Democrats from Greenwich, does wrench zoning control away from the Town.

So, our Democratic representatives in Hartford have commendably been trying to identify alternative approaches to encouraging the availability of affordable housing while preserving the Town’s control over its zoning.

Exploring alternatives is how responsible legislators help fashion good legislation – and help protect us from having unpalatable legislation enacted by legislators from the rest of the State who have been given no alternatives to such legislation.

Joe Angland
Chair, Democratic Town Committee