Affordable housing complex proposed on High Street
FAIRFIELD — A proposal to build a 40-unit affordable housing complex on High Street is still in the works but is already the subject of a public meeting for neighbors hosted by town officials.
“I walk by the house every day to walk my children to Holland Hill School, it’s such a beautiful piece of property,” Kasandra Marshall, a Judd Street resident who has expressed concern about the proposal, said. “We are all very tied to the nature that is in there.”
The Fairfield Housing Corporation, the developer, bought the 980 High Street property for $2.1 million last Dec. 14 according to property records and, since earlier this year, has reached out to neighbors regarding its proposal.
“We haven’t finalized (the plans) yet, we want to meet with abutting property owners first to incorporate some of the comments and criticisms,” Carol Martin, executive director of the Fairfield Housing Authority, said. “When you do community development, you don’t come in with something all set and baked.”
Though schematics and designs are still in the works, the housing corporation is planning to build a total of 40 units divvied throughout five buildings on the property. These would include: 6 three-bedroom units, 16 two-bedroom units and 18 one-bedroom units.
Martin said that developers are preserving the wetlands and the Judd homestead, an 1895 house that faces High Street and is expected to be fitted for future office space.
The Fairfield Housing Corporation will have its first public hearing with the Conservation Commission July 10 where residents will be able to hear more about the project and voice their concerns.
The Housing Corporation, which has submitted an application to the Conservation Commission regarding the wetlands and other factors, has yet to submit plans to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
“We want to be good neighbors and are mission-driven. We’re filling a spot in the market that hasn’t been filed by the private sector,” Martin said. “(The plans) are always subject to change, anyone has to go through local land use, it’s regulated and we have to work within the confines of regulation.”
For Marshall, she and like-minded neighbors are not opposed to affordable housing -- they want future residents in the proposed units to feel welcome and integrated in the community -- but the plans as they are now may place too much a burden on the environment.
“I feel that 40 units is an irresponsible amount of units on this piece of property,” Marshall said. “How will (future residents) play with our kids next door when it’s not safe to do so (due to traffic and parking)?”
First Selectman Mike Tetreau has also expressed concern about the proposal.
“I’m concerned about the size of the development -- with 20 units I’d feel much more comfortable -- I’m concerned about how close the big buildings are from residential housing (15 feet) and about water run-off and parking,” Tetreau said.
In an effort to convene neighbors and residents, town officials will be hosting a public informational meeting June 10 at 7 p.m. in the Holland Hill School cafeteria.
Officials like Town Plan and Zoning Director Jim Wendt, Conservation Director Brian Carey, Police Chief Chris Lyddy and Community and Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart are expected to be in attendance.
A Facebook group “Save Fairfield’s Historic Judd Estate” has nearly 550 members who are actively discussing storm drainage, sewer capacity and how an affordable housing complex would impact the “character” of the estate and neighborhood.
As schematics are drafted and the developer receives feedback from neighbors, Martin said she thinks most residents understand that there is a need for affordable rental housing in Fairfield.
“The hardest hurdle, probably true of any type of development, is when you’ve had a piece of property that for hundreds of years has been farmland and now it’s going to change. Change is hard for folk and that’s completely understandable,” Martin said.