Zoning board rejects application for Bic Drive housing development

A 257-unit housing plan on Bic Drive that city officials several months ago seemed to expect would be approved was denied this week because of an affordable housing moratorium.

The Planning & Zoning Board unanimously rejected an application from Garden Homes Residential of Stamford, which was attempting to submit a plan calling for an affordable housing complex of 257 units at 460 Bic Drive.

City Planner David Sulkis said the board needed to reject the application, meaning the applicant could not even present the project to the P&Z, because the proposal does not meet the criteria for the Office District (OD), which only allows one home on the 7.38-acre property.

Garden Homes submitted the plan under the state's affordable housing regulations, which normally would override local zoning regulations. However, the General Assembly adopted a moratorium on such projects until Dec. 31, 2014, a measure that was introduced by State. Sen. Gayle Slossberg (D-Milford), and supported by Milford's legislative delegation.

“Because of the moratorium, there is no way to waive the local zoning regulations,” said Sulkis.

Slossberg said at the time she introduced the legislation that it was in response to developers who appeared to be taking advantage of the affordable housing laws to build housing projects in inappropriate places.

“Over the past year, developers have used Connecticut's affordable housing appeals procedure to circumvent Milford's zoning laws at an unprecedented rate,” she and Milford’s other representatives said in a press release announcing the intent of the moratorium several months ago. “Hundreds of citizens have spoken out, suggesting that this prevents the city from building affordable housing in a deliberate, thoughtful manner consistent with Milford's Plan of Conservation and Development.”

The legislators said that a year will give people time to look at the law and how it is being used.

“In that year, legislators will work together with stakeholders to determine a process that will appropriately encourage affordable housing while protecting the health, safety and character of neighborhoods,” the legislators said.

Other business

In other business, the Planning and Zoning Board voted unanimously to abandon a dirt portion of Schoolhouse Road, potentially giving ownership of the property to Kingdom Life Christian Church.

Brian Stone, attorney for the church, said the 7,000 sq. ft. section of road was cut off from the paved part of Schoolhouse Road when I-95 was built. The old road cuts across a wooded property on West Avenue owned by the church.

“It goes nowhere,” said Stone.

The Board of Aldermen needs to vote on the road abandonment, which it is expected to do at its August 4 meeting.