Orange to air plan for affordable housing, business complex

ORANGE >> The Town Plan and Zoning Commission, faced with an affordable housing proposal under the state’s controversial 8-30g regulation, has continued a public hearing on the plan to build a mixed business/residential complex with 60 apartments, 18 of them affordable units.

Chairman Walter Clark IV and other members of the commission set the hearing for April 18, in part to have the developer’s traffic engineer re-examine aspects of a study related to the project. The April 4 hearing was continued from Feb. 21.

The site plan application, submitted by Sixty Five Marsh Hill Road LLC for property at 65-69 Marsh Hill Road and 0 & 15 Salemme Lane, calls for underground parking, commercial space and residential units. The location is near a planned railroad station.

The developer is represented by attorney Thomas Lynch of Milford and Jeffrey N. Gordon, site planner, landscape architect and president of Codespoti & Associates, in Orange.

The two rarely lose using the statute that gives much leeway to developers creating affordable housing in municipalities that haven’t reached a certain threshold of units among their housing stock. The regulation allows developers to bypass local zoning regulations, and the burden of proof that a project threatens the health, safety or welfare of residents is high and falls on the board.


Municipalities rarely win on appeal and the losing is expensive, 8-30g experts have said.

In Milford, where several affordable housing projects were passed under 8-30g despite the outcry of residents, local legislators have proposed a bill to make changes to the law so local boards have more control, while at the same time acknowledging the need for more affordable housing, which is not the same as public housing.

No members of the public spoke April 4 on the proposal.


Clark was also focused on the property being zoned light industrial, questioned whether any dwellings are permitted and implied there may be a problem under the proposed plan with emergency vehicles entering the complex from certain directions.

Clark also defended the town’s history of trying to embrace affordable housing through various zoning regulations, after Gordon talked about how the town has fallen short of creating regulations that would allow affordable housing in places.

Gordon went through a town history of rejecting multi-family housing.

“We think this project stands on its own merits,” and is in keeping with the comprehensive plan of development, Gordon told the commission.

The state legislature’s Housing Committee recently OK’d the bill to update and reform 8-30g, but to become law, it must still pass in the state Senate and House and be signed by the governor.


Housing Committee Senate co-Chairwoman state Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, has explained the proposed changes in her bill.

“This law establishes commonsense, reasonable changes that do not undermine the Affordable Housing Act, but provide a measure of fairness to communities that are subject to the act’s provisions.”

Some of the provisions in the bill to reform the regulation include:

• Requiring that a rotation of judges hear affordable housing application appeals cases.

• Add to the units that count toward the 10 percent threshold and moratorium status certain mobile manufactured homes in resident-owned mobile home parks and other mobile manufactured homes.

• Require each municipality, at least every four years, to prepare on affordable housing plan, which must include inclusionary zoning.

• Give bonus points for three-bedroom family units and senior units tied to family housing.

• Award assisted housing that is open to only seniors and people with disabilities HUE points.

• Award points for units that receive financial assistance under a government program for the construction or substantial rehabilitation of low- and moderate-income housing.

• Specify that matters a commission legally may consider when reviewing an affordable housing application include “best planning practices” and “design standards.”

• Allow a municipality to deny an application if the proposal is for 25 or fewer units and exceeds the parcel’s permitted density by more than 100 percent if certain conditions are met.

• State that the appeals procedure does not apply to a proposal concerning real property that is subject to a municipal tax lien unless the municipality releases the lien or agrees to subject itself to the 8-30g.

The state legislature’s Housing Committee recently OK’d the bill to update and reform 8-30g, but to become law, it must still pass in the state Senate and House and be signed by the governor.