Fairfield’s considering 26-unit affordable housing project

Photo of Josh LaBella
A proposal for 2-6 Beacon Square would see the property, which currently has two duplexes on it, turned into a 26-unit development.

A proposal for 2-6 Beacon Square would see the property, which currently has two duplexes on it, turned into a 26-unit development.

Josh LaBella / Hearst Connecticut Media

FAIRFIELD — An affordable housing proposal is receiving some push-back from residents concerned with its potential impact on the neighborhood.

The proposal for 2-6 Beacon Square would see two duplexes on the 36,000 square foot property turned into 26 townhouse-style units, eight of which would be price restricted as affordable.

In a Town Plan and Zoning Commission meeting Tuesday, John Fallon, the developer's attorney, said the three building development would contain 15 two-bedroom and 11 one-bedroom units. He said the two bedrooms would be approximately 1,800 square feet while the one bedrooms would be about 780 square feet.

In terms of parking, Fallon said each unit would have a garage on the first floor, and that there would be six additional spots on-site — meaning a total of 32 parking spaces.

The application was made under the state statute 8-30, which allows developers to bypass municipal laws and regulations as long as a certain percentage of the project is affordable housing. Local boards must prove the project presents serious enough health or safety risks that outweigh the need for affordable housing there.

Based on his and the developer’s experience with projects of this scale, Fallon said the development would likely be occupied by people over 50 years old, younger people seeking to remain in Fairfield or members of the workforce, such as teachers and police officers.

“What these developments do, in addition to providing an increased inventory of affordable housing, is provide housing for people who have roots in Fairfield, want to remain in Fairfield, want to return to Fairfield [or] want to contribute to and be part of Fairfield,” he said. “That’s where the affordability is important.”

Phil Cerrone, the architect representing developer Beacon Square Properties LLC, said the developer tried to conform with the neighborhood, adding the approximately 30-foot height of the buildings are actually within the zoning regulations.

“We tried to do something that was within scale of the neighborhood,” he said. “The reality is that this project started as a much bigger project with many more units and several more stories to it. We were fortunate enough to have a client that wanted to do something that fits in as best as it could in the neighborhood.”

Michael Galante, a traffic engineer for the developer, said the project would add 13 vehicles to the roads during peak morning traffic and 19 in the afternoon peak. He said the impact on the area’s roads would be minimal, although he recommended a stop sign be added at the Beacon Square exit.

Residents and some commission members brought up concerns with the project in Tuesday’s meeting, primarily about its potential impact on parking, traffic and its scale.

“I think it can be a safety issue if people park on the road, and that affects sight line or the ability for a firetruck to get close access to the building,” said commission member Kathryn Braun.

Mary Ann Greco, the executrix of 3 Beacon Square, said there is not adequate parking on the cul-de-sac as it is already.

“To put that there, with 1-3 Beacon Square being a ranch on the opposite side, I would really what to see what all of it looks like,” she said.

Paula Gallo, a resident of Beacon View Drive, said the area is already too dense and that cars fly down the street.

Fallon said the developer does not agree that on-site parking will not be sufficient, later noting that the town fire and engineering departments have said the proposal would not pose significant risk to either it or emergency services.

He said there is no quantifiable public safety issue with the project that would outweigh the need for affordable housing.

“There are no bases of probability of any harm that would justify, under the case law, the rejection of the application,” he said.

The commission is expected to vote on the application in a Jan. 11 meeting.