Greenwich Housing Authority Chair Blasts Affordable Housing Proposals: “The 8-30g is being abused by developers”

At Tuesday’s marathon P&Z meeting, which ran from 5:00pm until about 11:00pm, attorney Tom Heagney said his client, Greenwich Woods, was considering changing from a nursing home to an 8-30g affordable housing development with 162 apartments at 1165 King Street

He said his client was “exploring development potentials.”

Previously Greenwich Woods considered changing the nursing home to an assisted living facility, but did not pursue that pre-application.

Greenwich Woods has 217 beds on 15.893 acres. The nursing home was approved in 1986, added onto in 1990, and added more beds since then. The building is set back 100 ft from King Street and isn’t visible from the street.

The property is served by Aquarion, but a key consideration is that the facility is connected to Westchester’s sewer system through an agreement that expires in 9 years.

“We have no reason to believe Westchester would not want to continue that agreement,” Heagney said. But, he added that there was potential for a septic system behind the development if the agreement with Westchester were to expire.

Currently the nursing home has 2 floors. The proposal would add 3 more floors for a total of 5 stories on the existing footprint.

Heagney said the existing building does have sprinklers and the proposed building would as well. That had been a concern brought up at the P&Z briefing the previous day.

Rendering of proposed 5 story 8-30g affordable housing development from Greenwich Woods at 1165 King Street. Sacred Heart Greenwich is to the north. To the west is BelleFair, Cerebral Palsy of Westchester and Regal Care. To the south is Greens of Greenwich, and close by is Westchester County Airport. Also nearby is Brunswick School, Harvest Church, Augustine’s Farm and landscape companies.

Commissioner Dennis Yeskey suggested Mr. Heagney approach Westchester and find out what their capacity would be.

“(This plan) pivots around the availability of sewer for a long time,” Yeskey said.

“Getting financing for a sewer system for 300 bedrooms feels like nothing that should be taken for granted,” said commissioner Bob Barolak.

Ms Alban said said she did not view the location as ideal for a high density 8-30g.

Specifically, she said there would be environmental concerns and potential traffic-related issues.

“Is it safe traffic wise? Is it safe environmentally? We’ve had concerns about contaminating wetlands at previous 8-30gs. …It does look like you’ve provided outdoor space, that is valuable, but is there a place for children to play?” she asked.

“Access to transportation and jobs is not simple from this location,” Alban added.

During public comment Sam Romeo, chair of Greenwich’s Housing Authority, blasted the proposal.

“This application really troubles me – sticking it up in so called back country,” he said, referring to the challenge of transportation.

“What I’m seeing happening here, as of late, from developers – either living in Greenwich or from the outside to develop in Greenwich because of its proximity to New York – are abusing the intent of the statute, 8-30g,” Mr. Romeo said.

“We had the property on West Putnam Ave with a lot of density and affordable units and 192 last week on Church Street. And now this one,” he continued. “How does that help take a big bite out of the apple of the 10%?” he asked.

The state 8-30g affordable housing statute, which has been on Connecticut’s books since the 1980s, requires that every town in the state have 10% of their housing stock be Affordable. Naturally occurring affordable housing such as that provided to private school teachers or country club workers doesn’t count.

Until Greenwich achieves 10%, it will be subject to 8-30g.

Currently it would take roughly an additional 1,200 units of affordable housing to achieve 10%.

Mr. Romeo said the goal posts move further out of reach when a high density development increases Greenwich’s overall housing stock.

“At the rate we’re going, we’re never going to meet the 10% goal,” Romeo said.

He said the difference is the housing authority is not profit-oriented.

“We’re not in the business to have financial gain. Our mission statement is to provide affordable housing in Greenwich and workforce housing. …We’ve been buying up private properties that exist – multi family homes. We’re renovating them and converting them so … it brings the number (required to achieve 10%) down.”

Also, he said, “We’re not putting more pressure on the infrastructure.”

“Over the last several months we’ve purchased a lot of properties, multi family homes. Just last week I bought two more. …When we use Section 8 vouchers on properties we acquire, those go directly to bring that (10% requirement) down.”

“As far as I can see, the 8-30g is being abused by developers,” Romeo said.

“Transportation is a concern. Traffic is a concern. Infrastructure is a concern,” he said.

“This application is totally out of character for the Town of Greenwich. I wouldn’t look kindly on it. …My main thing is transportation and the water.”

“Another consideration is that one-bedroom units really don’t help working families,” Romeo continued. If you put in 2 and 3 bedroom units, that’s different. What would really help affordable housing is for everyone to get behind the housing trust fund.

Attorney Heagney did not push back. “We’re really just exploring options for this site and this is one we wanted to get your feedback on.”

“We need all levels of housing. We need something that is not super expensive. We’d be okay with a new regulation for age restricted housing. We’d love to see entry level small houses for young families,” Alban said. “Come back and talk to us any time.”

Stay tuned.

See also:

P&Z Watch: At Gregory’s Coffee, Left Turn onto Rte 1 in Question

192-Unit Affordable Housing Development Would Raze Restaurant, Historic Houses

Pre-Application Submitted to Greenwich P&Z for 192-Unit 8-30g Development on Church Street in Downtown