24 thoughts on “Moynihan: Town ‘Led To Believe’ State Will Grant Affordable Housing Moratorium

  1. How is it possible that the town is eligible for a 8-30g moratorium filed in July 2022 but it was determined by town officials not to be eligible (or they chose not to file) for that very same moratorium in October 2021? No new affordable housing projects were delivered in New Canaan between October 2021 (post Canaan Parish phase 1) and July 2022? We have asked repeatedly for a full accounting of what happened last year and why certain decisions were made (or not made). What we appear to be left with as a town is an unexplained gap and 3 large scale housing projects in the P&Z queue.

  2. Why can’t anyone (ie town officials) answer the question of why the moratorium wasn’t filed at the outset? People deserve to know. If they could finally file something POST 3 massive development applications submitted that has led to total town outrage, they should have been able to file something before. Yet nobody did and here we are. Ridiculous the events that occurred here.

    That’s the story we all want to read about. Go find that out because we get 0 answers back around it.

  3. The 830g law allows developers to bypss local Planning and Zoning laws when the municipality lacks 10 percent of Affordable Housing. The Housing Authority of New Canaan and New Canaan Neighbors Inc. have a group of dedicated volunteers with a variety of skills. These groups redesigned the Mill-Millport Apartments and Canaan Parish, adding several units of Affordable Housing. It seems imperativfe that the town hire a full time Professional Housing Expert. This expert can guide us to best practices in addressing the challenge this law has created. In addition, the expert may have knowledge to help the town to avoid expensive litigation.

    • Instead of hiring an expert to challenge laws, we need a plan to develop affordable housing. Even if we get a moratorium, it’s just that — a moratorium — and we need a long-term plan.

  4. It seems there is only one person who can initiate (or not) a moratorium or a new committee- and that’s the First Selectman.
    This town is basically run by one person. Why are the other 2 selectpersons not allowed to override his view – as reflected in their push for an Affordable Housing Committee.
    Suggestion- let’s not put Mr Karp on it – like he was as an adviser to the New Canaan Housing Authority!! He used his knowledge against us and to his advantage.
    Personally I do not think a committee is the answer. For a subject as critical as this for the towns future there should be a full time person on staff to take responsibility. It’s clear no one is doing that at the moment.

    • Mike, the first selectman sets the agenda for the full Board of Selectmen. So if he doesn’t want to appoint a new committee, he simply won’t include that appointment on a meeting agenda. As we reported earlier in the week, the Utilities Commission similarly went “dormant” because the first selectman since taking office in 2017 has declined to include the appointment of any new members on a BOS meeting agenda. I suppose what could happen—and I’m not as familiar as many are with Robert’s Rules of Order—is that the two other selectmen could move to add such an item to the agenda during a regular meeting, and then out-vote him 2-1 to get it added and then 2-1 again to appoint the committee. But that would be very unusual and given past vindictiveness, I doubt we’ll see it.

      • Mike:

        as you probably well know, the highest elected first selectman does NOT have items on the agenda that will cost the taxpayers $10,000 or less … as was the case of that amount being voted in for the Preservationists being “awarded” $10,000 to pay an out of town consultant to explore expanded historic (or is it histeric)
        district centering on god’s acre. This is the same group that has cost us taxpayers thousands of dollars for legal fees for them trying to save the oldest part of the library…. which remains an eyesore .
        And why is the highest elected official so hot on saving Vine
        Cottage when it could be sold and the money used to cut taxes? its not like we don’t have any other town property that could be used.

        For you new and relatively new residents, you might be surprised to know that some 20 years back the town was offered ALL of the lumberyard property for $1,000,000 … but didn’t know what they would do with it…. same as with Rowyton Point a few years earlier.

    • Mr Field—-I resent your comment. My participation in the rebuilding of Canaan Parish is because I believe in affordable housing. My position as a volunteer helped to plan and then build that project gave me no advantage. You should volunteer for the next town project.
      The only thing I did come to understand is how little New Canaan and it’s selectman know about affordable housing, state law and moratoriums.

      • Mr Karp we all want to see more affordable housing – we just don’t want to destroy the town in the process. The towns plan may be slower than the state or you would like to see but it’s working and just needs some fire put under it.
        Your approach requiring 100 high density units for 30 affordable ones would require 20+ such buildings all over town. How does that square with your advertising New Canaan as a “quintessential New England town”?
        From my point of view we have a perfect storm. A town management that’s been asleep at the wheel and a successful developer who has used his knowledge to take advantage of the situation. I certainly don’t begrudge you making serious money from these developments but let’s not pretend this is just about affordable housing. A more effective plan would be to pay developers to build more total affordable buildings over more suitable land – like town parking lots- instead of cramming them into clearly SF residential areas where the neighbors have worked hard to create a nice home environment.
        Just because you can do something it doesn’t mean you should.
        I wish you would consider a different approach – I reallly don’t look forward to seeing a 5 story city block out of my bedroom window.

        • Mr Field–Let’s be honest the town of New Canaan has NO plan for affordable housing. Your first selectman has already said numerous times–“the town has no land”–I guess he means for affordable housing. I am not using my knowledge regarding affordable housing to “take advantage of the situation”–we are following the law. A law that has been on the books for over 30+ years.
          Let’s review some history that you and the town residents may not be informed about. Over five+ years ago at a town meeting we announced the purchase of Weed and Elm and that we were considering multi family housing on the site that has town sewer and water.
          We spoke to the first selectman and suggested that senior housing would be an excellent fit for the property as senior housing continues to be a major town need. Senior housing was rejected by the first selectman.
          We then suggested a series of attached and detached town houses as an option. That was quickly turned down . At the same time the neighbors reached out to our counsel and said that anything but 2 homes would be fought.
          You suggest a different approach. We even suggested–a land swap with the town for the lumber yard or equivalent.
          Again we heard nothing. There seems to be nowhere that the town administration believes affordable and market rate housing should be built in our community
          So while the community continues actively opposing diverse housing options by private developers–we have offered other options that the town has continued to reject.
          Again the town has NO plan and NO committee to address this 30 year issue.

        • Same nightmare here in Ridgefield… it never ends. We moved here primarily for the same reasons you cite plus open space and the schools. All of that now in jeopardy – along with housing values and ultimately the need for affordable housing… But it will be too late.

  5. Forgive me if this sounds like a silly question, or if it has already been asked/answered and I somehow managed to miss it.

    Per Michael Field’s previous comment, why doesn’t the town and/or developers look to our town’s glorious, enormous parking lots as potential apartment building sites? Presumably with the understanding that all that parking could be recreated, and expanded, with a few underground levels?

    As the “Now and Then” section on NewCanaanite.com has shown, there used to be big tall hotel “Birdsall House” on the Morse Court site. Couldn’t we bring that back bigger and better than before?

    Or what of the buildings on Main Street Karp Associates Inc already owns (I believe 110 or 114 Main, or something around there)? Couldn’t those be either redeveloped in situ to become apartments, or torn down and rebuilt to accommodate 100% affordable housing?

    Again, apologies if this has all been brought up and argued ad nauseam. But it seems weird to me that nobody in local government has laid out a map of the town and identified all the potential development sites that everyone would prefer to see apartment buildings go rather than on residential streets? Or maybe we the public just haven’t been allowed to see it?

    • I agree – smaller, distributed, less dense development sites would be much more palatable than what’s been proposed. It would, however, require long term planning and a readily available fund for when properties come on the market.

    • So that the record is clear—we have suggested numerous times to all that would listen- that a good location for combined affordable housing and market rate housing could be the lumberyard lot. That would allow a mix of affordable and market rate housing with covered parking for commuters and start the housing units to get the town a series of moratoriums. The towns 830j application to the State suggests that the town will apply for a series of moratoriums—the town has zero new affordable projects in the pipeline, so how will we continue to get moratoriums. As we have stated previously—the town has NO plan. We have also recommended that, as you suggest, the town identify locations that larger density developments be built. The town needs to work with developers as the cost to build any residential affordable units exceeds $600,000 per unit so that 40 units of affordable housing would cost the town $24,000,000 plus land costs. Wouldn’t it be more advantageous for the town to work with developers rather than against. How much tax payer money has Kevin spent fighting the current applications and future applications? Here’s an opportunity for the town to get more affordable housing built, provide much needed housing diversity for people already living in New Canaan, at zero dollars to the Town and taxpayers. But that takes a willingness to work with developers.

      Paul Stone

  6. The applicant has applied for a text amendment to P&Z (i.e change the town’s zoning regulations) for the Weed Street application. This application provides P&Z with an opportunity to also update the regulations. P&Z should take this opportunity and update the zoning regulations to mandate that anyone who modifies, creates or updates any housing complex with three or more units to set aside at least 60% for affordable housing. This regulatory change would include the pending application for 751 Weed Street. This change would accelerate the town’s goal of achieving more affordable house and ensure that the public positions of developers are in fact aligned with this town goal. The View, an Arnold Karp development, would be an example of a recent large scale development in downtown New Canaan where this opportunity was lost.

    Greenwich’s P&Z site has an excellent dedicated section on 830g. They have a case in the courts which has been going for 5+ years.

  7. Regulatory change–could not include the pending Weed Street, Main Streeet or Hill Street applications as they have been submitted under the states 830g regulations. I believe it might be helpful for you to read the state regulations.
    Additionally, no private developer can afford to build 60% affordable housing—hence the 30% rule. However, under your concept as explained above, the Town would then have to pay $600,000 plus land costs for each affordable unit the town needs. So unless the town tax payers are prepared to cover those costs I think your concept is foolish at best. For the record when building the Vue we offered affordable units to be built but the town did not accept that offer—check the P and Z record.

    • You are incorrect. You have asked for regulation change for Weed Street not P&Z for your project and that regulation change would apply to Weed Street and subsequent pending applications. P&Z now has the ability to review your proposed regulation change, make their own updates to the regulations which would apply to all your applications that are pending and not voted on at P&Z. The door was opened when you asked for the change. They don’t have to accept your change but have the leeway to make updates to your requested change which support their views. It happens all the time.

      The state and the courts would be happy to see any town require 60% to accelerate satisfying the requirement. The Town can still work with developers as long as they meet the local requirements.

  8. Hey Mr. Karp,
    If your the great defender of affordable housing why don’t you build a five story affordable housing project next to your house in Greenwich. I’m sure you wife would love it. Your full of it.

  9. I would be happy to build in Greenwich or any community that needs to meet the regulation. Others who I’m proud of are already building in Greenwich which has 12 pending applications Yes my family is fully on board to providing housing for our community

    • Mr. Karp- why do you refer to New Canaan as “our”community? Last I checked you decamped to Old Greenwich so as not live as a pariah in the town you are hell bent on destroying with your unabated avarice. You may own properties here and maintain an office but you are certainly not a member of the community.

      And while I am sure you support the development of multi family housing in Greenwich to further line your bottom line the idea that you would want a 5 story bldg that looks like a courtyard by Marriott next to your sound front home in Tods point is laughably absurd.

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