Milford may qualify for four-year affordable housing moratorium

With a one-year moratorium on affordable housing projects recently enacted, State Sen. Gayle Slossberg told the Board of Aldermen Monday night that she believes Milford will qualify for a four-year moratorium.

Slossberg told the aldermen at their Monday night board meeting that there are two ways to be exempt from the state’s affordable housing law, which allows developers to circumvent local zoning regulations if their plan meets the state’s affordable housing guidelines. One way is to have 10% of the city’s housing designated as affordable; the other way is to accumulate enough points based on the various types of affordable housing in the city.

Regarding the state’s affordable housing law, Slossberg said, “The goal is to encourage affordable housing.” But she said in Milford over the past year and a half, several plans have been put forward that contradict the city’s Plan of Conservation and Development.

“We know what’s happened in Milford over last year and half,” she said. “There’s been a deluge of applications, some appropriate and some incredibly inappropriate. People came and asked us for help.”

Milford’s representatives in Hartford responded with a one-year moratorium pretty much tailored to Milford, which they said would give city and state officials time to study what is going on here regarding affordable housing.

Slossberg said she’s done a good amount of research, and is  “cautiously optimistic” that Milford exceeds the number of points needed to be exempt from the law for four years, possibly longer.

The point system involved in qualifying for a four-year moratorium is “complicated,” she said, explaining that it required going through city hall records to look at various deeds. Different point values are attached to different kinds of deeds, she said.

“We need 461.5 points to qualify,” she continued. “We didn’t think we’d have this. But we looked at the statute and the housing stock, and now we we’re cautiously optimistic we have more than enough points to qualify for a four-year year moratorium. You need to be able to prove what is deed restricted, and then you have to assign the correct points.”

City officials are now putting documents together and will apply to the state for the four-year exemption, she said.

After that, if the city continues to track its housing stock, it can apply repeatedly for the four-year exemption.

“It’s really a question of us being proactive,” Slossberg said. “I think this is exciting news for us.”

Community Block Grant Coordinator Tom Ivers, who handles Milford’s fair housing matters, has done a lot of research recently and will have to do more in the coming months, the state senator said.

Several residents spoke after Slossberg, pointing out their displeasure with a Pond Point Avenue affordable housing plan that the Planning and Zoning Board denied late last year. It was that development that drew considerable opposition from residents, and the opposition brought Slossberg into the battle.

The developer, Colberg, has since filed with the courts to appeal the Planning & Zoning Board’s denial of the application.

The residents who spoke said the kind of development proposed on Pond Point Avenue is an example of over-development that would be harmful to the city.

The Planning and Zoning Board denied a subsequent affordable housing proposal on New Haven Avenue based on safety concerns, and recently rejected a proposal on Bic Drive because the one-year moratorium is in place.