Neighborhood too dense

for affordable housing

An open letter to Fairfield Planning Director Joseph Devonshuk:

Thank you for a very informative meeting on Feb. 28 to discuss altering the zoning regulations to accommodate the Fairchild Avenue affordable housing project.

I have nothing against affordable housing in general and wish that I had options such as this project back in younger days.

I have not attended many of these meetings so am somewhat unfamiliar with the procedures.

The procedure seems very lopsided when the applicant is given what seemed like an infinite amount of time to present its case (almost three hours), and the residents are given a requested five minute maximum to comment. Little opportunity is given to the residents to prepare a response, so please forgive me that I wasn't able to communicate all of my concerns.

Earlier in the meeting, the Town Plan and Zoning Commission was admirably conscientious in maintaining consistency when it denied permission for a sign.

This particular proposal does not fit within the current zoning regulations, so the question is why wasn't this project given the same consistency?

The bottom line is that this complex, while Garden Homes Management makes it sound attractive, does not belong in a residential area. Why were we discussing bathtubs and light fixtures when the neighborhood cannot absorb this kind of density?

It is difficult to comprehend why this project wouldn't be subject to wetlands regulations and the impact it will make on water displacement.

Is it the same rule that was applied to the Kings Highway Office complex when I am restricted from expanding my living room a mere 6' due to FEMA restrictions in that same Floodway area?

TPZ Commissioner Gerald Alessi had the best idea, that this project belongs on Commerce Drive, where the density is more appropriate and convenient to public transportation. The answer given at the meeting was that Mr. Freeman, president of Garden Homes Management, did not own property there. That squarely is not our problem, and it should not drive zoning changes. Putting this project on Fairchild Avenue is akin to trying to put a "supersized" square into a round hole.

One resident stated that his concern was not of a not-in-my-backyard nature, but had other concerns. Well, I will admit that I proudly have a NIBMY outlook. This area has had its share of challenges when it comes to housing values and this will certainly not help matters. I ask everyone on the TPZ Commission to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they would like to see the zoning in their neighborhood changed to accommodate an affordable housing project. I think we all know what the answer would be.

If the town of Fairfield needs to address a quota of affordable housing in order to receive funds from HUD, then it should be done in an area that would be in keeping with such a project, within the current zoning regulations and not at the expense of homeowners in a residential neighborhood.

Karen Haigh