Neighbors oppose New Haven Avenue apartment plan

UPDATE: The public hearing scheduled for April 16 on this proposal has been postponed until May 6.

A proposal for an eight-unit housing development at 1556 New Haven Avenue, on property that once housed the late Dr. Jan Fugal’s pediatric practice, has some neighbors preparing to do battle.

Bella Properties Milford is asking for a special permit to build two buildings on the .62-acre parcel and leave the existing house, in which Dr. Fugal practiced. The single-family house would become a two-family house. The two additional buildings on the rear of the property would include three apartments each. All of the apartments would be two-bedroom.

The developer has filed the plan under the state’s affordable housing statute — known as 8-30g. That means the project does not have to meet existing zoning regulations so long as a certain percentage of the units will be rented to people who make between 60% and 80% of the median income.

One neighbor called the proposal an "abomination". Another has written to his state legislators complaining that the proposal is too dense for the Woodmont neighborhood.

“I am not opposed to the need to develop affordable housing in our city,” wrote William Stark, Sr., whose property on Chaucer Court abuts the site.

“However, the siting of six units on a site measuring approximately 100' x 200'; a site that is completely surrounded by existing single-family homes, seems to be a poor location for such development.”

The property site is a fairly busy stretch of road just before the West Haven line. However, Stark’s home lies behind the New Haven Avenue property in a neighborhood of Cape-style homes, which is very residential in nature.

“The density of this project would greatly alter the ambiance of the neighborhood and most likely lower our property values,” Stark wrote.

Stark was adamant that he doesn’t oppose affordable housing.

“This opposition to inappropriate density would be raised even if the units were to be marketed as high-end condos,” he said, adding that there have been questions about ground water run-off, emergency vehicle access, traffic and the removal of mature maple trees on the site.

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled before the Planning and Zoning Board for Wednesday, April 16, at 7:30 p.m. at Milford City Hall.

Addressing 8-30g

The New Haven Avenue proposal calls for three of the eight units being marketed as affordable. One of them would be rented to people who make 80% of the median income, about $69,000 a year, and their maximum rent would be $1,241 a month. The other two would be rented to people who make 60% of the median income, which is about $52,000, and their maximum rent would be $951 a month.

The remaining units would be rented at market value. All the units are proposed to be about the same size, according to notes in a Planning and Zoning office file. They measure between 840 and 928 square feet.

Some of Milford’s legislators said recently that they would start looking at the affordable housing law after recent proposals had residents complaining about dense developments being proposed in residential neighborhoods. At one public hearing, State Sen. Gayle Slossberg said some developers take advantage of the affordable housing laws to get around city zoning regulations.

State Rep. Kim Rose, who is vice chairman of the state’s Housing Committee, said she took the committee chairman to Milford to show him that sometimes affordable housing complexes are squeezed into small areas. Rose said some of these sites do not seem appropriate or desirable to young families, especially, who might be looking for some type of yard where their children can play.

“Everyone wants to encourage affordable housing,” Rose said, explaining that the legislators have to tread carefully where the state law is concerned. “Changing the law will affect the whole state. We don’t want to discourage affordable housing.”

She doesn’t expect any changes to the law overnight, and said state officials will be discussing it.

“There needs to be a solution,” Rose said.

Tom Ivers, the city’s block grant coordinator, has said in the past that Milford is not close to meeting the required number of affordable housing units it needs to be exempt from the state’s affordable housing law.

A community must have 10% of its housing stock earmarked as affordable in order to bypass the law. Milford's affordable housing stock is at about 6%, and the city needs about 800 more affordable units to reach 10%, Ivers said.