P&Z Chair: Those Advocating for State Affordable Housing Laws ‘Have Largely Ignored’ New Canaan’s Ongoing Efforts

The chair of New Canaan’s Planning & Zoning Commission said during the appointed body’s most recent meeting that he’s given testimony on proposed state legislation regarding affordable housing. The arguments behind “a number of bills” under consideration by the Connecticut General Assembly is “that historical and current zoning regulations have and continue to propagate exclusionary zoning in the state of Connecticut,” John Goodwin said during P&Z’s regular meeting, held March 30 via videoconference. “Meaning the argument is they keep housing costs high and then exclude lower income families from more affluent communities. One of the key bills is Bill 1024 some of the key provisions of that bill is 50% of the downtown area or 50% of an area within a half-mile of a transit station—that is, the New Canaan Train Station, in our case—would be subject to four or more unit housing as-of-right, meaning that if somebody came in and wanted to build a four-unit project there’s little that the Planning & Zoning Commission could do to control that development. In addition there would be no parking requirements for that development.

‘A Potential Signature Change for the Town’: P&Z Opens New Canaan Library Rebuilding Application

New Canaan Library through many early design iterations sought to include the original 1913 building, the organization’s executive director said last week. Yet in acquiring an adjacent South Avenue property in 2017, opening up new possibilities for the best possible design, as well as a fundraising feasibility study “and a careful assessment of the functional needs for the building and grounds, the design could no longer incorporate the original facade into the building within these parameters,” Lisa Oldham told members of the Planning & Zoning Commission during their regular meeting. “The library then began to explore how it might retain the original structure, freestanding on-site,” Oldham said during the March 30 meeting, held via videoconference. “Several options for relocating it on the green were explored. In weighing these options, the library considered the following: First, the cost to rebuild the structure.

P&Z To Prioritize Affordable Housing in New Canaan

Faced with the prospect of new state laws designed to increase the amount of affordable housing in towns such as New Canaan, the Planning & Zoning Commission should proactively focus now on boosting the number of units available to low-income families here, including through updates to its regulations, the appointed body’s chair said last week. Though New Canaan already actively supports the creation of more affordable units—such as through a long-established fund that collects fees from building permit applicants and redevelopment projects that add dozens of new apartments here—P&Z should consider doing even more, especially as some in the General Assembly seek to have the state take over certain zoning powers to redress what they describe as “segregation” in affordable housing, according to the Commission’s chair, John Goodwin. “I think we do need as a Commission—and this is just me as one commissioner talking right now—I think we do need to take a more immediate focus on increasing affordable housing in New Canaan,” Goodwin said during P&Z’s regular meeting, held Jan. 26 via videoconference. Updates to the regulations—such as requiring developers with projects of 10-plus units to designate a certain percentage of them as “affordable,” under the state’s definition of the term—would create more housing for low-income families as well as seniors and working people who otherwise couldn’t afford to live in New Canaan, Goodwin said.