Zoning panel backs bid to update town's affordable-housing plan
Published 8:24 am, Wednesday, February 27, 2013
The Town Plan and Zoning Commission, which has had several recent denials of affordable-housing projects overturned by courts, on Tuesday gave its endorsement to a grant application to help update the town's affordable-housing plan.
Community and Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart made the request to the zoning board. He said the grant application for funding from the state Office of Policy and Management needs both the TPZ and Representative Town Meeting approval.
The Board of Selectmen asked the Affordable Housing Commission to update the town's plan to provide affordable units, first created about 25 years ago. The updated plan is to be finished by January 2014.
"I think the issue of affordable housing is an important one, and has been the subject of one or more, in fact, several hearings," said TPZ Commissioner Douglas Soutar. "I think it's a very good time to examine the whole subject in depth."
Last year, two TPZ denials of developments that included affordable units were overturned in court. State statutes call for 10 percent of a town's housing stock to meet "affordable" criteria. In Fairfield, however, that percentage is 2.69 percent.
One of the developments that a court ordered to be approved is a 12-unit complex on Campfield Drive that sets aside four units as affordable. The second project, initially denied by the TPZ, is a 54-unit rental complex on Fairchild Avenue with 27 units for low-income renters.
The town itself has provided affordable housing through "owner built" projects, where future owners help build the units in lieu of a down payment and through the purchase of the former Navy housing complex off Reef Road. Those homes were sold to moderate income residents.
In total, Fairfield has provided 47 units of owner-occupied housing and 266 units of subsidized housing for elderly and disabled units. There are also 19 units of supportive housing provided by Operation Hope, as well as 21 multi-family rentals.
Barnhart said the most the town could get through the state grant is about $20,000. "It's not much," he said, "but it's enough to help us prepare the plan update."
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