‘People Are Really Upset About This’: Town Council Pushes Back on Snub of VFW’s Funding Request

Members of the Town Council are pushing back on decisions made by other municipal bodies that deny a request from local veterans for funding through the American Rescue Plan Act. The Boards of Selectmen and Finance both voted in support of a $582,600 ARPA package for nonprofit organizations that left out a $15,000 request from the local VFW. During their own July 20 meeting, Town Councilmen tried to get answers as to why the snub occurred and to urge the selectmen and finance board to fill the funding request. “If it wasn’t for our veterans this town would not exist,” Councilman Kimberly Norton said during the meeting, held in Town Hall and via videoconference. “So I think it’s of paramount importance that we take this seriously, and all of these people are volunteers that volunteered their service to our country, and then volunteered in our parade, and mapping the graves of the veterans in the cemetery.

‘She Puts Party First, Before Other Things’: Town Councilmen Voice Concerns about Maria Weingarten in Divided Vote on Finance Board Appointment

In an unusual discussion last week, some members of New Canaan’s legislative body voiced concerns about the qualifications and partisanship of a prospective member of an appointed municipal body. While Maria Weingarten can be admired for her outspokenness and strong opinions, she as an alternate member of the Board of Finance has already had to recuse herself from some important votes related to a proposed affordable housing development at 751 Weed St. and is also an activist on some education-related issues, Town Councilman Hilary Ormond said during the legislative body’s regular meeting July 20. It also is unclear just how Weingarten is qualified to serve as a regular member of the finance board, Ormond said during the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “I’m not entirely clear what her qualifications are,” Ormond said.

Attorney: Moynihan Made ‘Several Inaccurate Comments’ During Affordable Housing Discussion

An attorney for a developer seeking to build at least two multifamily projects in New Canaan under the state’s affordable housing law is calling out the town’s highest elected official for inaccurate statements made during a recent public meeting. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan told members of New Canaan’s legislative body last month that “it came as a great surprise” in May that “the rules had changed” with respect to how the state counts affordable units in towns that are seeking to apply for relief from a law widely known by its statute number, 8-30g. Yet “[t]he -30g moratorium rules with regard to deductions of points for units that have been demolished (a requirement overlooked in the Town’s recent application) did not ‘change recently,’ ” attorney Tim Hollister noted in a July 6 letter sent to Moynihan via an email to town employee Tucker Murphy, as well as to the full Town Council. 

“The rules were adopted by the General Assembly in 2000, in Public Act 00- 206,” Hollister noted. “The rules have not changed since then. The Department of Housing enforced these rules in 2019 with respect to Westport’s moratorium application, but DOH did not change the rules.”

The letter, obtained by NewCanaanite.com which made a public records request for it, was sent to town officials in response to several representations that Moynihan made before the Town Council during its June 15 meeting.

Affordable Housing: Town Council Discusses New Canaan’s Handling of Moratorium Application 

New Canaan’s legislative body last week called for the town to consider getting a second legal opinion on whether the municipality should move forward now with an application to the state for relief from a widely discussed affordable housing law. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said earlier this month that, following discussions with the Connecticut Department of Housing, the town will wait until the second phase of the Canaan Parish is completed to apply for a four-year “moratorium” from the state law known by its statute number, 8-30g. Towns like New Canaan, where less than 10% of all housing stock qualifies as “affordable” under the state’s definition, are susceptible to the 8-30g law. Under it, developers can use an appeal process to effectively skirt local zoning regulations when applying for multi-family housing project where at least 30% of all units are rented at affordable rates. 

The town has received two such applications from local developer Arnold Karp, at Weed and Elm Streets, and on Main Street. Moynihan has said that, based on discussions with the state, the town “does not currently have enough affordable housing ‘points’ to qualify for a moratorium.” 

Specifically, the town in drawing up its application for relief—allowable under 8-30g for municipalities that create a certain number of new affordable units—had not accounted for “deductions” for pre-existing affordable housing that were demolished as part of a pan to rebuild with higher density. 

Even so, “we believe our facts are distinguishable based on the kinds of units that we have,” Moynihan told members of the Town Council at their June 15 meeting, held at Town Hall.