Letter: Seaside Avenue resident opposes 8-30g housing proposal

To the Editor:

In recent years the City of Milford has approved many affordable housing proposals despite the disapproval of residents. It appears as though this pattern is here to stay, as details of Milford’s first affordable housing proposal in 2016 were recently released. The latest proposal calls for the construction of seven single family homes plus the retention of two existing homes on a 1.18-acre site at 214-224 Seaside Avenue.

I find myself struggling to reconcile my desire to increase the supply of affordable housing with my disagreement for the methods the state’s affordable housing regulations currently employ to achieve the goal.

The state affordable housing regulation in question – known as 8-30g – promotes the construction of affordable housing by allowing developers to construct housing developments that do not comply with local zoning laws, as long as a certain percentage of units in the new development are set aside as affordable.

Despite its good intentions, 8-30g fails to take into consideration many factors that impact those who live near such projects.

The first flaw regarding 8-30g proposals is that citizens have no recourse to oppose them. In fact, 8-30g proposals are nearly impossible to reject. In order to reject an 8-30g proposal one of two conditions (or both) must be met. A municipality can reject a proposal if 10% of the subject municipality’s housing stock is considered affordable. Or, a municipality can reject a proposal if the development creates bona fide health or safety hazards.

In Milford, 6% of the housing stock is considered affordable. Therefore, the only viable objection the city has to reject an 8-30g proposal is on grounds of health and safety hazards. However, municipal rejections of 8-30g proposals on the basis of such hazards rarely withstand appeals in court.

In essence, resident concerns regarding 8-30g proposals have no weight in the deliberation process – this is an atrocity, considering neighboring residents are most affected by development.

A second flaw of 8-30g proposals is that such proposals need not abide by zoning regulations. This provision is irresponsible, in that it creates hardships for neighbors, pedestrians, motorists and the low income residents the statute intends to benefit.

Because developers are unrestricted by zoning regulations, they embrace the mentality that bigger is better – with no regard for a property’s surroundings. As a result of this freedom, 8-30g construction lacks architectural integrity and consciousness of neighborhood character. In addition to issues of aesthetics; developments proposed under 8-30g are exclusively denser compared to their surroundings. The proposed 8-30g development at 214-224 Seaside Avenue has a density of 16 bedrooms per acre, while densities on the rest of Seaside Avenue average 3 to 4 bedrooms per acre. Issues of density influence and encourage many safety hazards including fire, flooding and traffic.

As a lifelong resident of Seaside Avenue, I can attest to the traffic hazards. Speeding motorists are not a nuisance – they are a reality. I have witnessed many car accidents; and have reported several. Some accidents on Seaside have been fatal – and yet here we stand, ready and willing to approve a project on a one-acre site that, according to the developers, will accommodate 22 vehicles.

John Bonetti

Seaside Avenue Resident