Submitted by Berrin Snyder
There are so many reasons Greenwich is a unique and special place. Our residents are creative, brilliant, and wonderful people who generously give of their time and money to benefit our community. Our parks, beaches, schools, services, and other amenities are unparalleled. Our town has a singular sense of place because of all these things and because of the natural beauty and cozy New England town character we have worked hard to preserve over the years.
As many of you may remember, that distinctive town character has recently been under attack by developers using loopholes in state regulations that override our local zoning code. Connecticut General Statue 8-30-g allows developers to build overscale, high-rise residential or mixed-use projects, circumventing local zoning regulations as long as they include a small percent of units dedicated to affordable housing. For example, huge and
unattractive multi-family and high-rise apartment buildings were proposed along the Post Road and Sound Beach Avenue (Post Road Ironworks, 143 Sound Beach Avenue, and the apartments at Sheephill Road, 581-585 West Putnam Avenue, 500/600 West Putnam Avenue).
These projects put an undue burden on infrastructure, and posed health, safety, and traffic congestion issues. They were highly contested by residents and ultimately modified, tabled or defeated.
We can now add the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Act (AFFH – an updated version of the 1968 Fair Housing Act), Connecticut House Bill 6749, and the June 2020 initiative, DeSegregateCT (Fair and Open Communities) to the list of threats to home rule, local control over our schools and zoning regulations, and the preservation of our way of life in this beautiful and wonderful community.
Their goal is to make housing and zoning a regional issue, usurping control over municipalities. They aim to decentralize urban poverty, disperse disadvantaged families in low-opportunity areas to affordable housing in high-opportunity areas as far as 30 miles away, so that families may avail themselves of better schools, programs and amenities. On its face, the idea is admirable. Once you think it through, however, it is highly problematic, and very costly and impactful for the target communities. This is the first step towards the urbanization of suburban life and the destruction of single-family housing zones.
A 2009 settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Westchester County required the County to spend $51,000,000 to build 750 units in 31 of their most affluent towns within 7 years and possibly pay $60,000 a month in fines until the projects are completed. Then the towns were required to actively find and bring non-residents into the county to fill the housing, even though Westchester is the 4th most diverse county in New York. This is government overreach in the extreme!
You can find goals and details on the DeSegregateCT website to better understand why these policies are bad for every town in Connecticut whose residents work hard to preserve and maintain the character and quality of life in their communities.
Again, AFFH and HB 6749 eliminate the requirement that local zoning regulations must promote reasonable consideration as to the character of a district as development progresses! Together with DeSegregateCT they comprise a movement to regionalize zoning and control over our children’s education.
We need someone in Hartford who understands these threats, and who will represent every one of us who want to maintain local control over our schools, zoning, and tax dollars. Kimberly Fiorello is that person. She will work to prevent our municipalities from being absorbed into regional “one-size-fits-all” solutions and will fight to preserve local control over our communities.
Vote for Kimberly Fiorello for Connecticut State Representative on November 3 rd !
Connecticut House Bill 6749 (sHB 6749):
Westchester/HUD 2009 Affordable Housing Settlement:
Despite 2009 Deal, Affordable Housing Roils Westchester
Westchester Affordable Housing Update 2015:
The Fair Housing Failure—Where Even the Liberal North Whistles Dixie
Affordable Housing/State Statute 8-30g in Fairfield:
3-Story Affordable Housing Project Proposed For Fairfield