Affordable housing rejection appealed to state Superior Court

The Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) rejection of a proposed affordable housing development at 1613 New Haven Avenue has been appealed to the state Superior Court.

Attorney Thomas Lynch, who represents developer Charles Gagliardi of West Haven, filed the appeal papers, seeking to overturn the Dec. 15, 2015 rejection of the plan, which calls for construction of eight apartments on the 0.43-acre property, located in an R-12.5 zone, which is a single-family house zone.

Commenting on the appeal, Lynch said on Jan. 19, “Nothing on the record cites public health and safety.” Lynch said he is trying to get the case heard in Milford Superior Court, rather than having it transferred to the Land Use Litigation Docket in Hartford, because he said that court is backed up nine to 10 months hearing other appeals of Milford P&Z decisions.

Gagliardi filed the application under the state’s affordable housing law, referred to as 8-30g. The law places the burden of proof on the P&Z to state why the project represents a threat to public health, safety, and welfare, a threat that outweighs the need for affordable housing.

At the Dec. 15 meeting, the board voted 3-5 in favor of a proposal by then board member Jeanne Cervin to approve a seven-unit project, a motion that failed. The board did not take a vote on the original eight-unit plan.

The city hired a traffic consultant at Gagliardi’s expense to review the traffic study submitted by Traffic Engineer David Spear on behalf of Gagliardi. Traffic Engineer Kermit Hua agreed with Spear’s findings that New Haven Avenue could handle the traffic generated by the eight units. Hua did criticize the on-site parking design as being tight and unusually arranged.

Residents wondering about the likely outcome of this appeal need only look up the street at 1556 New Haven Avenue, where a similar project with eight units was denied by the P&Z on June 3, 2014, and appealed to the court by the developer, Bella Properties. The court overturned the denial, and directed the P&Z to negotiate with the applicant.

Under the negotiated settlement, the board approved a seven-unit project for the 0.62-acre property at its April 7, 2015 meeting, and the court agreed to the settlement on May 7, 2015, less than a year after the board’s denial.