NEGA: Connecticut Has an Issue That Is Impacting Greenwich Now!

Submitted by T.H. Walworth III President Northeast Greenwich Association

The Board of The Northeast Greenwich Association and the Presidents of the Round Hill Association and Northwest Greenwich Association recently met with First Selectman Fred Camillo, P&Z Chair Margarita Alban, State House Rep Kimberly Fiorello, State House Rep Harry Arora and State Senator Ryan Fazio.

We gathered to discuss the threat of the highly flawed 8-30G Affordable Housing Bill which allows developers to override our local zoning mandates to provide 30% of a project’s total units to those who earn 60% to 80% of the State’s median income and spend 30% of that income renting the unit. A 40 year deed restriction keeps that unit “affordable,” after which returns to market rates. Greenwich is subject to this because CT is imposing their 1989 definitions.

These definitions do not include many units we would label affordable. CT says only 5% of our housing is affordable. Until we reach a State goal of 10% a developer may invoke 8-30G to bypass local zoning, neighborhood character and quality of life issues. Originally in 1989 the Bill was thought to aid the housing needs of our civic employees, but it soon became apparent that those who work for the Town of Greenwich earn too much to qualify. We would easily qualify if the State counted housing provided by private schools, clubs, the Greenwich Hospital and private accessory units which are not
deed restricted.

Much of this legislation is currently fueled by DesegregateCT who is using the 1989 Affordable Housing Bill 830-G as a base. DesegregateCT purports to be a coalition of neighbors and nonprofits, but in fact it is an arm of the Regional Planning Association – a New York based advocacy group for builders and architects. It is professionally organized, well funded and exists to line the pockets of its benefactors. It has emboldened Hartford legislators who do not live in this area to further craft new legislation that would mandate municipalities to be responsible for sharing a State affordable housing goal. The State would determine the goal through four factors.

• A town’s wealth as defined by its grand list.
• Its median income compared to other towns.
• The percentage of housing stock that is affordable multifamily housing.
• The rate of poverty in a town.

This puts Greenwich squarely in Hartford’s gun sights and is a great example of State over-reach.

It has been reported that DesegregateCT is attempting with new legislation to have all State municipalities:

• Automatically rubber stamp building permits in neighborhoods in the vicinity of train stations.
• Disallow one acre single- family zoning wherever they can, in order to mandate 1/8 -acre single family zoning instead.
• Push for regional zoning commissions that would effectively eliminate local Planning and Zoning bodies.

We are sharing this information so you are aware of the impacts current legislation may bring to Greenwich. We want to protect our Town, our self-determination and local zoning rules. Keep in touch with our legislators. Speak up and help defend our Town……..your voice will make a difference. We need orderly and locally planned growth.

Currently the P&Z is faced with applications for over 650 units and eight 8-30G applications as of 2/24. Many more will be submitted. The P&Z is overwhelmed and under current legislation, the Commission does not have the authority to decline the application unless it poses a threat to public safety or wetlands. If this continues the Town will experience massive increased density, loss of height restrictions, loss of setback protections, increased traffic congestion, increased infrastructure costs,
increased water and sewer usage, deliver a major strain on our school system and threaten the demise of our Historic Districts. All of this will also have a negative impact on neighboring property values.

Actions we should consider:

  • Redefine how Affordable Housing is counted. Open up accessory apartments (ADUs) which do not have deed restrictions. Count employer housing provided by schools, clubs and health care services.
  • Build Affordable Housing ourselves. Involve the Greenwich Communities (formerly the Greenwich Housing Authority). Town controlled, researched and financed. If we build an additional 2% of Affordable Housing (approximately 500 units) now we can ask for a four year moratorium.
  • Involve all Town neighborhood organizations in this challenge. Character and quality of life depend on it.
  • Is it legal for the State to over-ride their municipalities local rule? This should be explored by independent counsel. Who could possibly believe that one set of State Zoning Laws could satisfy the unique needs of each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities?!!!!!
  • Call and e-mail your State Representatives, Senators and the Governor. Our government works for us. Having the State dictate zoning for all communities that changes their character is not only breaking faith with the residents of the State, but it is taking away the rights of citizens for local government. That is one of the reasons why the American Revolution was fought.
  • Contact/Call
    First Selectman Fred Camillo [email protected]
    State Rep Harry Arora [email protected]
    State Rep Kimberly Fiorello [email protected]
    State Rep Steve Meskers [email protected]
    State Senator Ryan Fazio [email protected]
    State Planning and Development Committee Co- Chairs
    Western Connecticut Council of Governments
    Steve Cassano [email protected]
    Cristin McCarthy Vahey [email protected]
    Governor Ned Lamont – – fill out the short info form.

    Greenwich must submit an Affordable Housing plan to Hartford by June 30, 2022. Hartford is in legislative session now so please submit your concerns ASAP. If Hartford is successful, the value of your homes may significantly drop, and the ambiance and sense of place of The Town of Greenwich, in which we enjoy living, will be lost forever. As our First Selectman has stated :

    “We will not stop advocating for local control of tasks like zoning policy. Our efforts, combined with others around the State, need to successfully defeat many bad legislative Bills. We also know that our guard must never be lowered. To that end, Greenwich will continue to lead with ideas that are driven locally so that we do not become vulnerable to State mandates.”

    T.H. Walworth III President Northeast Greenwich Association