Lifelong town resident Scott Hobbs recalls that New Canaan was more economically diverse when he grew up here than it is today. And due to the success of the town, “we seem to become less and less economically diverse,” Hobbs, chairman of the New Canaan Housing Authority, said Wednesday. “So the more that we are able to provide housing and have the people who work in the community actually live here, too, creates a healthier community,” Hobbs said from the site of a widely anticipated project that will see the affordable units that overlook Mill Pond expanded and built with greater density. A handful of town officials attended the groundbreaking ceremony at the Millport Avenue Apartments. The Housing Authority is now completing a phased redevelopment of the site, starting with 33 new affordable housing units, with 40 more to come. Continue Reading →
The first phase of a large-scale plan to create more public housing at Mill Pond is underway and on track for completion by year’s end, officials say—a widely anticipated project that’s expected to trigger temporary relief for New Canaan from a state law that allows developers to skirt local planning decisions. Under the Affordable Housing Appeals Act, towns where less than 10 percent of the housing stock qualifies as “affordable” by the state’s definition (New Canaan’s is at about 2.4 percent), developers may bypass Planning & Zoning by designating a percentage of units within proposed new structures as affordable. Ten percent is a rigorous standard that towns such as New Canaan are unlikely to meet, mostly because the state in calculating “affordable” lumps the town into the sprawling geography of the “Norwalk-Stamford Metropolitan area.”
Yet there’s a way to get relief under a provision (a complicated provision) in the state law. Under the provision, types of housing are assigned a certain number of points based on variables such as how much they cost (in mortgage payments or rent) and whom they serve (seniors or families). If a town amasses enough “housing unit equivalent” points, it can earn a four-year exemption. Continue Reading →
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The plan to rebuild with greater density the public housing units “up the hill” at Millport Avenue has gained traction since last November. The New Canaan Housing Authority board has held regular meetings—there’s another one scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday—to discuss and prepare for the physical work, when families that reside there will face a dramatic if temporary change in their lives. Some time soon, these New Canaanites will move into new units built within an expanded footprint at Millport while their homes are razed and rebuilt.
Although this will be adjustment for the residents of Millport, many are excited about the upside of the project, according to New Canaanite Kara Laviola. As a resident there trusted by her neighbors and well-attuned to what’s happening, Laviola has been appointed a resident representative during the project. We spoke to her about the rebuilding and her experience living in New Canaan. Here’s our conversation. Continue Reading →