Milford P&Z delays vote on subdivision moratorium

Milford City Hall, Spring 2021

Milford City Hall, Spring 2021

Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — A decision on imposing a moratorium on development of all non-conforming lots, including those created before the adoption of subdivisions on Nov. 1, 1929, has been put on hold.

Joseph Griffith, director of the city’s Department of Permitting and Land Use, said his office asked for the moratorium, which would apply to any non-conforming lots on any subdivision, not just those pre-1929 lots.

“Any subdivision before 1929 would not have gone through a planning and zoning board,” he said.

The Milford Planning and Zoning Board, which has called for this moratorium and opened discussion on the proposal at its Tuesday meeting, pushed the vote to its July 5 meeting in order to obtain additional information on how a moratorium would affect the city as a whole.

There were two sections to the Milford Zoning Regulations (6.4.1 and 6.4.2) dealing with non-conforming lots, said Stephen Harris, zoning enforcement officer and executive secretary of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

“Regulation 6.4.2 was the merger regulation, which the board repealed last May,” said Harris. “Since then, we have run into problems with people looking to certify all of these old small lots.”

Griffith said at any point in time there has been any number of changes to the lots and they are trying to safeguard against not issuing or being compelled to issue zoning permits for non-compliant lots unless they fulfill specific requirements.

“We want to have regulations and policies in place that would enable us to responsibly accept these applications consistently,” he said. “We have seen an increase in applications for non-conforming lots in the last two months.”

Harris said there were some proposals to take down existing houses because they were located on two or more old 1929 subdivision lots.

“The moratorium is in effect a temporary merger rule to give the board time to think and reflect if they ought to continue to allow pre-subdivision lots to be built on, or if the board wants to introduce a merger rule back in,” Harris said.

“The moratorium would allow us to define and regulate how these pre-1929 lots can be developed,” Griffith added.

Griffith said he doesn't know how many non-conforming lots exist in the city, but it could be hundreds.

Attorney Kevin Curseaden said when Regulation 6.4.2 was repealed last May, there were several builders and homeowners that purchased properties the moratorium would affect.

“As you go forward and take time off over the five or six months to consider what regulation you may put in place, if anything, that you consider property values that exist for these lots,” said Curseaden.

“Not all of these lots should be developed, but you have a significant number of people that have these lots that are of significant value as the rules sit right now and will lose that value if the board decides to institute or re-institute the merger in the regulations,” he added.

Curseaden said what the board is dealing with now is lots before 1929 that were never approved by a board or agency and are not protected by a Connecticut statute covering subdivision approvals of record and lots that have not been built on.

However, he said the board could use the Connecticut statute by revising and modifying it to fit the city’s needs.

“As a policy, the board should decide whether they want these old lots to be buildable lots,” said Curseaden. “Once you decide that, you have to decide one of the issues Stephen brought up, could somebody who has a house build over the property line, knock it down and now they have two lots?”

The third consideration would be if the current zoning regulations should apply to the lots created before 1929 and if current setbacks should apply.

Robert Satti asked if the planning and zoning office was denying permits for lots created before 1929 and he was concerned the moratorium would mean no permits being issued.

“These requests are coming in for lot certifications, so as such, we are in the process of and until the moratorium takes place, would continue to certify lots and essentially validating if these lots existed on a pre-1929 map, then yes they are lots,” said Griffith. “We are not issuing zoning permits per se. We are not issuing authorization to develop these lots."