New Canaan To Seek Protection from Developer Loophole

While New Canaan may not be constituted to meet a rigorous state threshold that would forever protect the town from loophole-happy developers, it might be able to stave off unwanted development at least for a few years while alternatives are figured out, officials said Tuesday. A proposal that would double the number of affordable housing units at Mill Pond may trigger a three-year exemption from the Affordable Housing Appeals Act. Under that law, in towns where less than 10 percent of the housing qualifies as “affordable” by the state’s definition (see below—New Canaan’s is at about 2.4 percent), developers may bypass local planning decisions by designating a percentage of units within proposed new structures as affordable. Town Planner Steve Kleppin said at the Board of Finance meeting that it’s not realistic for New Canaan to get all the way to 10 percent. “The total number is just not there,” Kleppin said at the meeting, held in the Sturgess Room at the New Canaan Nature Center’s Visitors Center.

Plan to Double Affordable Housing at Mill Pond Stalls

A project that would more than double the number of affordable housing units at Millport Apartments hit a speed bump Tuesday night. Preliminary plans call for 60 to 70 additional units to be built on property located opposite Mill Pond. Pending more details, the Board of Finance at its regular meeting put off approving a measure that would see $500,000 made available to the New Canaan Housing Authority to pursue that plan. Those funds—collected through a 1 percent add-on fee in some building permit applications (ones that deal with exterior work only)—are held in trust for the purpose of boosting New Canaan’s affordable housing stock. Finance board members, including Mary Davis Cody and John Sheffield, questioned the prudence of signing off on the $500,000 without details on just how the funds would be used for pre-construction architectural and engineering studies.