In re-do, Milford Planning and Zoning Board approves zoning change for developer to build 168 units
MILFORD >> The Planning and Zoning Board voted recently to approve a change in zoning regulations that contradicts the efforts of state legislators to achieve a moratorium on affordable housing construction under the state’s controversial 8-30g statute.
In a turnaround from a prior vote of 5-4 to deny the proposed zoning regulation change by a developer seeking to build multi-family housing, the PZB recently voted 6-3 to approve the regulation change.
Board members John Grant, James Quish and Chairman Scott Marlow voted against changing the regulations.
They redid the vote because the town attorney determined that in keeping with a state rule, at least six votes are needed to approve a zone regulation change.
9 building complex GETs GO-AHEAD
The regulation change paved the way for the PZB to approve the application of Metro 150 LLC, a developer in the city, to build a 168-unit, nine-building luxury apartment complex at 92 and 100 Plains Road and 150 Boston Post Road.
Only Quish and Grant voted “no.” Even though Marlow voted against changing the regulation he voted for the project.
The zone regulation change that was approved after hearty debate took a requirement out of the Corridor Design Development district 1 — or CDD 1 district — that residential buildings are only permitted in that zone “when at least 30 percent of the units are defined as affordable housing in accordance with section 8-30g of the Connecticut General Statutes.”
The district is a tiny portion of Milford along the Boston Post Road from about Cherry Street to Bridgeport Avenue in the Devon section.
State Rep. Kim Rose, D-Milford, who attended the meeting, was aghast the board voted for the change.
First, Rose said, the regulation was designed to give the PZB some control over where dense, affordable housing is built.
There has been a huge outcry among city residents over the last few years over affordable housing under 8-30g being built in single-family residential neighborhoods. The controversial statute allows developers to bypass local zoning regulations and build dense projects in places where they wouldn’t otherwise be allowed.
Planning and zoning boards must usually approve the projects or face costly appeal by the developer that the city rarely wins.
Rose said the biggest blow in the latest vote is that by allowing the 168-unit complex to be built without 30 percent being deemed affordable, it moves Milford further away from a moratorium on 8-30g projects, the city’s only current hope for relief.
To achieve moratorium, a community must have 10 percent of its housing stock deemed affordable by the state’s standard.
A lot of effort by Milford state legislators, Rose among the leaders, has gone into revising 8-30g, including most recently a hard-fought provision that would count some existing housing stock not counted before as going toward the moratorium.
NUMBERS WILL BE SKEWED
Director of Department of Permitting and Land Use Joseph D. Griffiths said board members noted that in the 13 years the 8-30g requirement was in the CDD-1 regulation to incentivize affordable housing development — no one has used it to that end.
Griffiths said that while Milford has received many applications for projects under the 8-30g statute, none are in zones where affordable housing is required as part of multi-family residential development.
Griffiths said Rose is correct that increasing the housing stock will increase the number of affordable units needed to reach a moratorium.
In a fierce debate before the vote to change the zone regulations, board member Grant voted against the regulation change, saying it would be a disservice to the city to vote for the regulation change with so many 8-30g project applications coming in because it moves the city further away from the moratorium.
Quish said the decision of the past board that established the affordable housing requirement should be respected.
But another member, Carl S. Moore, who voted for the change, said requiring affordable housing as part of multi-family development in a zone seems like “segregation.”
Marlow was adamantly opposed to granting the regulation change, and asked board members to really think it through, saying changes to regulations are “far-reaching.”