TPZ OKs affordable-housing complex on Bloomfield Drive
FAIRFIELD — The Town Plan and Zoning Commission on Tuesday night unanimously approved an affordable-housing project — without being ordered to by the courts.
“This is one of the nicest 8-30g (state affordable-housing law) applications to come before us,” TPZ Commissioner Jaci Coleman said, regarding the plan to build nine units on Bloomfield Drive.
“It’s a good plan,” Vice Chairman Gerry Alessi said.
Past applications under the 8-30g state statute, which allows builders to propose building denser developments in exchange for setting aside a portion of the units as “affordable,” have faced tough scrutiny by the TPZ and ultimately been denied.
However, developers of affordable-housing projects on Campfield Drive and Fairchild Avenue have seen earlier TPZ denials overturned in state Superior Court, and an affordable proposal for Bronson Road has been sent back to the commission by the courts for reconsideration. The TPZ’s denial of an affordable project on Berwick Avenue was upheld recently in court.
Alessi said his only concern with the Bloomfield Drive project is the nearby intersection at Bloomfield and Park Square Court. The developer, Turk Properties, recommended a yield sign that exists be removed and stop signs be installed on Park Square Court and the development’s driveway.
But Alessi would like to see the intersection be made a four-way stop. The commission agreed, as a condition of approval, to instruct the developer to seek approval from the Police Commission for a four-way stop.
“I’m going to support this application,” Commissioner Seth Baratz said. Baratz said that under an 8-30g application, the developer can ignore the town’s zoning regulations. In order to deny an application, the town must prove the development is a detriment to public health and safety, which outweighs the need for affordable housing.
While some neighbors had opposed the application at an earlier public hearing, citing concerns for parking and traffic, there was also support for the proposal, Baratz noted. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen neighborhood support for an 8-30g,” he said.
Of the nine units, two two-bedrooms units and one one-bedroom unit would be sent aside as “affordable” rentals in compliance with state criteria. Each unit would have a one-car garage and there will be five additional parking spaces inside the development.
As a condition of approval, the developer must submit a pedestrian circulation plan for the property.