QUIGLEY: Stop Demonizing Those Who Oppose SB 1024

Submitted by Dan Quigley, Greenwich RTC chair

In a recent Op-Ed, Greenwich resident Mareta Hamre cried foul about local Republican opposition to efforts by Hartford Democrats to strip zoning authority out of the hands of local municipalities. 

In actuality, SB 1024 does nothing to “address a statewide housing and affordability problem” as Ms Hamre suggests. Instead, it is an attempt to force circumstances that would create an oversupply of housing throughout CT’s small towns. This is particularly destabilizing to towns in Fairfield County as a glut of housing supply will effectively lower the value of existing homes in neighborhoods that are predominantly middle class. 

There are lots of apartments in downtown Greenwich. Most of these units are not one million plus dollar residences. All of the property values of these condo’s would be negatively effected if SB 1024 was approved. All of the homes in Byram, and smaller size one and two family homes in downtown Greenwich would be adversely affected by SB 1024. 

Ms Hamre also mischaracterizes the use of the term “character” as it is applied to a town. She says “character is often used to categorize the kind of people living in housing rather than the form of the housing”. This is the new fallback position by those who support SB 1024. If someone points out a town’s character as being important, it is code for being racist. This is totally and completely erroneous.

People want to live in towns like Greenwich precisely because of the fact that as close as we are to Manhattan, we retain a certain small town, New England charm. We have rolling hills, old stone walls and green spaces as well as trendy cafe’s, shops and restaurants. Our community character is that we are able to straddle the fine line of having enough of an urban feel to downtown Greenwich, without actually being urban. That is the aesthetic/lifestyle attraction of Greenwich.

Housing diversity is a worthy goal. Greenwich has incrementally added to its affordable housing menu while not compromising the look and feel of Greenwich. And by look and feel, I am talking about buildings and landscape.

What is so sad about this debate is that one side has decided to make it about race. People like Ms Hamre do not trust towns and municipalities to make their own choices. Instead they put their trust in big government. Yes, the same big government that continues to tax our residents into oblivion without any  improvements to show toward solving the problems that plague CT’s cities. 

Greenwich’s Democrats have, through their actions, shown that they support SB 1024. They continually defend it and talk about how wonderful it will be for Greenwich. It is disheartening that when our town is falsely accused of being racist or of enacting illegal, racist policies, Democrats remain silent, while tacitly agreeing with that assessment.