Zoning board denies New Haven Avenue affordable housing application

Milford’s Planning and Zoning Board unanimously voted to deny an affordable housing proposal that would have placed eight apartments on a  .62 acre of land on New Haven Avenue, citing health and safely concerns.

The proposal called for an eight-unit housing development at 1556 New Haven Avenue, on property that once housed the late Dr. Jan Fugal's pediatric practice.

Bella Properties of Milford had asked for a special permit to construct two buildings on the .62-acre parcel and leave the existing house, in which Dr. Fugal practiced. The single-family house would have become a two-family house. The two additional buildings on the rear of the property would have included three apartments each.

The developer had filed the plan under the state's affordable housing statute — known as 8-30g. That means the project did not have to meet existing zoning regulations so long as a certain percentage of the units would have been rented to people who earn between 60% and 80% of the median income.

However, municipalities can deny an application based on  health and safety concerns.

Several board members said Tuesday night that increased traffic, a driveway that would have had to accommodate residents walking from the rear apartments, plus inadequate access for emergency vehicles, posed health and safety concerns.

“I was relieved,” said William Stark, an abutting property owner who had lobbied against the project based on its density. Stark had raised a number of concerns at several public hearings, including risk of added flooding to his property.

Stark said he thinks a proposed affordable housing moratorium, recently announced by Milford’s representatives in Hartford, may have had some impact on the final vote.

Led by State Senator Gayle Slossberg, Milford’s state delegation crafted a one-year affordable housing moratorium for municipalities that meet certain criteria. Slossberg said the moratorium is aimed at stopping developers who take advantage of the affordable housing statute. The year-long moratorium, she said, would give state officials a chance to study the affordable housing law and see how it is being used.

But the moratorium was not mentioned by any P&Z members Tuesday night as they discussed their reasons for denying the application.

Planning & Zoning Board Chairman Ben Gettinger said, “It is not the law yet, so it didn’t play into the decision.”

As of Tuesday, the governor hadn’t signed the legislation, though Slossberg has said she is confident he will sign it.