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    Sunday, July 21, 2024

    Waterford applies for affordable housing moratorium

    Waterford ― Saying it has made significant progress with affordable housing, the town is seeking state approval for a moratorium that would prevent developers from suing it over denied affordable housing plans.

    Under section 8-30g of state law, developers can get around local zoning restrictions by suing the town if their plans for affordable housing are rejected. In such lawsuits, the burden of proof is on the municipality to show the risk to public health or safety outweighs the need for affordable housing.

    Town planner Jonathan Mullen said Tuesday that the town’s application for a four-year moratorium from the law, which it submitted to the state Department of Housing the same day, doesn’t mean the town won’t still welcome affordable housing.

    “I feel this just allows us to do it in a way that fits best with the town,” he said.

    Mullen said when an affordable housing application comes in under the 8-30 procedure, it prevents towns with from rejecting the project based on the zoning regulations, if fewer than 10% of the town’s total dwelling units are considered affordable by the standards set by the housing department.

    He said the moratorium is a way of giving the town time to look at ways that it can improve affordable housing opportunities such as considering zone changes, examining and revising current regulations and potentially creating new ones.

    Mullen said the town is still going to continue to work with developers who want to propose affordable housing.

    According to the state Department of Housing’s most recent affordable housing appeals list, moratoriums are currently in place in 28 towns and cities in Connecticut, including New London, Groton and Norwich.

    In order for towns and cities to obtain a moratorium, they must demonstrate they have created affordable housing developments since 1990 when section 8-30g was enacted and have a minimum number of housing unit equivalent points.

    Mullen said the town’s application states that it has housing equivalency points of 183.8 which represent 2.07% of its total housing stock. To be eligible for a moratorium, a municipality’s score must total at least 2% of its housing stock.

    A housing unit equivalent point is the value assigned to a housing unit based on how affordable it is.

    There are five affordable developments that have been built since 1990. They are AHEPA 250 II Waterford, Jordan Brook Terrace, Victoria Gardens, Graniteville Apartments and Brookside Commons. They total 200 units which represents 183.8 equivalency points. The town has 8,875 housing units, according to the 2020 census.

    Mullen added that the five developments included in the application does not represent the total amount of affordable housing in town, just those built after 1990. Affordable housing has been built in town prior to that, including Twin Haven Inc. Apartments on Mary Street.

    “There’s others that are in development currently,” he added. “And when they’re done, we’ll be able to count those.”

    According to Partnership for Strong Communities, a Hartford nonprofit dedicated to making change in housing policy in the state, the moratorium would demonstrate “that the town has made progress in creating homes that are guaranteed to remain affordable.”

    First Selectman Rob Brule, in a statement Tuesday, said the town has “worked very hard in recent years to encourage developers to address the affordable housing needs” of the community. Brule said he is “pleased these efforts meet the criteria for eligibility for a moratorium on 8-30g submissions.”

    He said the town remains committed to working with property owners, residents and non-profits to keep Waterford affordable for residents, both current and prospective.

    The town posted a legal notice July 9 that can be found on its website, along with notices in the Day newspaper and Connecticut Law Journal.

    Publication of the notice starts a 20-day comment period. If 20 residents sign a petition requesting a public hearing on the application, and file it with the town clerk’s office, the town will hold a public hearing.

    Any comments and testimony from the resulting hearing would be submitted with the application to the state Department of Housing.

    d.drainville@theday.com

    Affordable housing developments in Waterford since 1990

    AHEPA 250 II Waterford, 95 Clark Lane: 54 affordable units

    Jordan Brook Terrace, 55 Yorkshire Drive: 26 affordable units

    Victoria Gardens, 105 Boston Post Road: 72 affordable units

    Graniteville Apartments, 171 Rope Ferry Road: 16 affordable units

    Brookside Commons, 908 Hartford Turnpike: 32 affordable units

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