Resident wants more oversight of housing developments

To the Editor:

I have been a resident of Milford for over 30 years, raising two boys in our local school system, spending the last 20 years on Meadowside Road. I absolutely love our city, so a part of my heart sinks as I write this letter.

I find it hard to express my level of disappointment as I experience the lack of coordination, oversight and concern exhibited by some of the folks operating out of the Parsons Complex regarding the affordable housing entering our city.

Although I believe the intricacies of the law need to be revisited in Hartford, this letter concerns the role of our local officials in vetting and monitoring these projects. The development of 335 Meadowside is a prime example. This project went before the Planning & Zoning Board and, although an outside engineer provided testimony citing safety and environmental concerns, the project was approved.

This project has been allowed to move forward without any checks and balances. One local official refused requests to visit the site, despite numerous reports of compliance concerns, stating, “I will not come out until the project is completed.”

If there are issues that could be addressed during construction would that not be better for everyone? The only action, in the form of letters to the developer noting compliance issues along with a cease and desist order (both never followed up on or enforced), arose from a site visit made by this local official’s supervisor in response to continued prodding by concerned citizens. The subsequent lack of follow-up and enforcement resulted in the P&Z Board scheduling a public hearing on Tuesday, March 7 to review changes already made to the project, without P&Z Board approval, resulting in safety, environmental, security and privacy concerns.

The city recently issued a certificate of occupancy for several of the units despite these compliance issues, the lack of P&Z Board final approval, and a pending public hearing.

I do not harbor any ill will against anyone wanting to call our beautiful community home. As a single mom of two young boys, who worked and went to school full-time, I can absolutely appreciate the need for “affordable” housing. What I take issue with is the lack of protection and support afforded to the existing homeowners surrounding these projects. Believe it or not we were told by local officials that we would need to sue the developer if any damage was inflicted to our property.

I am asking local officials, the P&Z Board, and the developer to do the right thing. Address current safety, environmental, security, and privacy concerns while establishing a process to review any future issues. Do the right thing and correct the soil grading of the property, now several feet higher than the original grading.

Do the right thing and remedy the placement of the new gas line which: Despite the plans showing it running directly behind the project’s units, it runs a mere six inches from the property line in some places.

Do the right thing and provide the existing property owners and the new residents the security and privacy they deserve. Install solid privacy fencing around the perimeter and plant mature year-round greenery behind the five buildings.

Do the right thing and fix the driveway of 331 Meadowside, damaged by the developer during construction.

I encourage residents to come out for the public hearing on Tuesday, March 7, 7:30 at City Hall. Take the opportunity to comment on the 335 project and to set ongoing expectations for the oversight of new affordable housing construction and the protection of existing property owners.

Denise Doucette-Ginise