For those of you who are following the discussion on affordable housing, and the town’s application for a 4-year affordable housing moratorium you will know that the town is getting ready to submit an application for the next moratorium, and that town residents could have petitioned for a public meeting on the matter.
The town of New Canaan could have filed for this moratorium extension in October 2021, but this was not done. In February 2022 a project for 102 units on the corner of Weed and Elm was filed using the opening created by the expiration of New Canaan’s previous affordable housing moratorium.
Since February, we as residents of the area of Weed and Elm, have been so appreciative of the support we have received from other town residents. We have more than 1,200 people on the Save Weed Street Facebook page, and close to 3,000 people who have signed a petition in support of our neighborhood and town, and many who have contributed countless volunteer hours and provided significant financial support as well. We have been deeply touched and heartened by the outpouring of support, and we cannot thank people enough.
What has been missing throughout this process is a thorough and detailed understanding of why the town did not file for a moratorium extension back in October when it could have. The town has known since 2017 that the original moratorium was going to expire in June of 2021, and the town knew in Q2 2021 that the State was not going to give us moratorium relief. Based on this, we are surprised the town did not move with more urgency to protect its residents and homeowners.
The information that we have received about our questions regarding the decision making behind this delay has not been at the quality level one would expect from a town such as New Canaan. Having a public meeting about the moratorium extension would have allowed residents to again ask for such details. The downside of such a meeting is it would have delayed further the filing for a new moratorium, exposing even more residents to the unbelievable situation we have been living through and shouldering over the last months. Town officials asked us not to submit the petition for this public meeting as it would delay the filing of this moratorium.
We have asked the town to have an independent, detailed investigation of the facts surrounding the lack of immediate filing of new application for the 8-30g moratorium extension in October 2021. By this we mean, an investigation conducted by people other than those directly involved – it could be by Town Council, a select committee of town elected officials, or lawyers. The time period this investigation should cover should commence in 2017, when the last moratorium was issued and continue through today and be comprehensive in nature. A report should be issued to the public so the town and its residents can learn from this and ensure it is not repeated.
Keeping a “rolling” 8-30g moratorium remains the highest articulated strategy by the town when it comes to dealing with affording housing and as such, we as residents need to understand why it was not given priority in the past and what is changing for the future.
Giacomo Landi and Liz Moore