FORCE: Disappointed in Negative Reaction to Ferris Landing

Submitted by Jordan Force, Stamford, former Cos Cob Resident

To the editor,

My name is Jordan Force and I live in Stamford, but I was born and raised in Cos Cob right near the railroad station, and my mom still lives there.

Recently, Greenwich Communities has proposed the construction of a 48 unit apartment complex on top of a commuter lot adjacent to the CC railroad station.

Instead of embracing the chance for this community to have more affordable housing, and move closer to the 8-30g target, some neighbors have instead started a petition opposing this project. I am disappointed in this reaction.

Let’s start with some context. Housing prices are out of control in our nation, state and county, but especially in  Greenwich. One of the reasons I moved to Stamford was that it was extremely difficult to find something reasonably priced to buy in Greenwich. Every wait list for Greenwich Communities is closed (https://greenwichcommunity.org/waiting-list/), and all but two of these wait lists have been closed for more than a year. The GC occupancy rate is 99%; nearly every unit of housing is in use. Rent is limited to 30% of income, with adjustments made for medical expenses and childcare costs.

Let’s look at the positives of this project. 48 families are able to live in an affordable community, near a transit station with frequent service to NYC, Stamford, Norwalk and New Haven. This is a huge benefit, in a town that struggles to provide housing for those who aren’t lawyers, surgeons or stock brockers. If you want to reject this project, you need to show that the negatives of this project outweigh this massive benefit.

Let’s look at the negatives. This project has 72 parking spaces, so it’ll probably add a few hundred car trips a day. I’ve never seen congestion cause a problem here, and I grew up here, and I still visit the area multiple times a week. I’m not a traffic engineer, but I doubt this will cause anything more than a minor inconvenience for drivers. While more cars means more danger for children walking to school, part of the project is the construction of a sidewalk along Station drive between I-95 and Sound Shore Drive.

I grew up here, and that part of Station Drive was the area I always felt the most unsafe walking in, due to the lack of a sidewalk. The construction of that section of sidewalk will definitely make up for the small increase in traffic.

Let’s also acknowledge that children are put in danger when their families have to live in cramped or out of code housing (“illegal apartments” as some call them), or live out of their car. Families are stressed when parents have to super commute because they cannot afford to live near their work. High housing costs are the main cause of these afflictions, and the higher prices/rents go, the worse these issues will become.

As far as the flooding within the complex is concerned, that’s an issue every building in this area has to deal with. Let’s have a little faith in the engineers designing these buildings; surely they’ll know how to deal with this issue. The one valid point here is that the development will increase the amount of impervious surface at the site, so it’s possible that it could make flooding worse for the neighbors. But that’s true of any building, parking lot or road. Should we just not build anything at all simply because it might cause an increase in flooding? Certainly, per housing unit, this will net less additional impervious surface compared to the single family homes and driveways in the neighborhood.

I’ve tried to stick to the facts so far, but I want to explain what this looks like to people who aren’t part of Greenwich’s landed gentry. Some of the most privileged people in the country are trying to block a project that will clearly help people who need it. It seems without exception that every time a group opposes housing construction, they qualify it with “we support affordable housing, except this project”.

Life is about tradeoffs, and if you’re willing to trade quality housing for 48 families over speculation and minor inconveniences, maybe you actually don’t support affordable housing.

I hope this moves smoothly through P&Z, and GC is able to build this project quickly and without a hitch.

Thanks,
Jordan