Greenwich P&Z Commission Clarifies its Mission and Initiatives

Open letter from the Greenwich Planning & Zoning Commission: Margarita Alban, Dave Hardman, Peter Levy, Nicholas Macri, Dennis Yeskey, Bob Barolak, Victoria Goss, Peter Lowe

Dear Greenwich Residents,

Recent media attention to important national topics has led to emotional local commentary and discussions of proposed zoning legislation in our state.  Although your Planning and Zoning Commission has a long tradition of staying above the fray and not engaging in political rhetoric, we felt it prudent to clarify our mission and to share some of our current initiatives. Our focus is to respect all perspectives and to protect the collective interests of the town, while avoiding partisanship.  

Greenwich zoning regulations must conform with state law, even as they are written to correspond to the priorities set by you, the residents of Greenwich, as documented in our 10 year (POCD) plan.  In 1946, Greenwich was among the first towns in the state to form a housing authority.  We have also led the way in creating housing diversity for all residents, regardless of income or background.  Unlike many other suburban communities, we have long had multi-family and two-family zoning, and we have allowed accessory apartments since 1987.  Our first “inclusionary” zoning regulation to create moderate income dwelling units also dates back to the 1980’s.  In our town, there are no excessive parking requirements to discourage multi family dwellings.  Greenwich is among the 138 towns (of 169 state towns in total) that have not met the state goal of 10% affordable housing, but we are half way there.  

Our Affordable Housing Task Force has been working hard on recommendations to advance affordability and inclusion.  

High land cost is the main challenge, and as a result, we must develop innovative approaches to continue to increase our housing diversity.  

That said, Greenwich has been earning recognition for exploring best practices from around the country.  A few examples include an Affordable Housing Trust Fund as a means to subsidize Greenwich Communities (the Housing Authority), and private developments, and a requirement that all multi-family developments provide below market rate units.  

We may also be proposing on-lending from the Town to Greenwich Communities. 

It is our hope the discussion above helps you sort the facts from the noise, so we may return to our focus on respecting all perspectives and doing our best to adhere to zoning regulations in a just and fair manner.

Town of Greenwich
Planning & Zoning Commission