Inland wetlands permit denied for High Street project in Fairfield
FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield Housing Authority was denied an inland wetlands permit to build an affordable housing development at 980 High St.
The 4-3 vote for denial was a victory for neighbors who have fought the proposed 40-unit, 80-percent affordable complex, claiming it would disrupt the neighborhood economically, environmentally and historically.
This was the culmination of three public hearings held over three months, during which Attorney Bryan LeClerc presented hundreds of pages of evidence and five experts testifying that the proposed project would not harm the wetlands on site.
At the final hearing last week, Conservation Administrator Annette Jacobson recommended denying the application, stating that the development would damage the wetlands. Attorney Joel Green also presented an intervention on behalf of neighbors against the development.
Attorney LeClerc was disappointed with the outcome, but said the Housing Authority will appeal the decision with the Superior Court as well as continue the process of getting additional building approvals.
“Unfortunately, the decision by the Commission was not based on the substantial evidence presented by the applicant and its team of experts, all of whom agreed that the project was appropriately designed,” LeClerc said. “The Fairfield Housing Corporation will be pursuing an appeal with the Superior Court. At the same time, it will be presenting its application to the Town Plan and Zoning Commission for approval of this must-needed project.”
The Housing Authority can continue with the application process through Plan and Zoning, but it will need to earn a wetlands permit through the appeals process to begin building on the site.
Carol Martin, Executive Director of the Housing Authority, said they will continue fighting to address what she calls an “affordable housing crisis” in Fairfield.
“The project will definitely be delayed, but we’re committed to serving the folks currently on our waitlist and trying to make sure that we’re able to serve more people,” Martin said.
Attorney Green did not respond to a request for comment on behalf of the interveners.
The Housing Authority’s Plan and Zoning Commission public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 15.