The Board of Selectmen last week approved the hiring of a consultant to help the town qualify for four years of relief from a widely discussed state affordable housing law.
Under the Affordable Housing Appeals Act, known by its statute number “8-30g,” developers may skirt local zoning regulations in towns where less than 10% of all housing stock qualifies as affordable—a level that officials say New Canaan is not expected to achieve.
Municipalities may qualify for relief from 8-30g if they can demonstrate creation of a certain number of affordable units, and the denser redevelopment in 2017 of the New Canaan Housing Authority’s apartments on Millport Avenue helped the town achieve such a “moratorium.”
Officials had hoped to chain a second four years with the rebuilding of the Canaan Parish complex at Lakeview Avenue and Route 123, a long-planned project. But financing for that project was delayed by state budget difficulties and the pandemic, Housing Authority officials have said, and the town is now susceptible to 8-30g applications.
So municipal officials are “assembling the paper work” to earn New Canaan’s next Certificate of Affordable Housing Completion, Town Planner Lynn Brooks Avni told the selectmen at their regular meeting, held Dec. 14 at Town Hall and via videoconference.
Asked about the timing of the next moratorium, Brooks Avni said, “No matter what, it is a 90-day timeline once we submit to the state.”
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectman Nick Williams voted 2-0 in favor of hiring consultant Karen Martin to help put the application together. (Selectman Kathleen Corbet was absent.) According to a draft contract included in the public packet for the selectmen meeting, the town will pay $120 per hour for the work, plus some expenses, for between 50 hours ($6,000 total) and 150 hours ($18,000).
Williams asked Brooks Avni whether the town’s application for the moratorium amounted to “a safe harbor” from the state law.
“ ‘Safe harbor’ being the town is not in a position where developers can come in and say hey we are going to put up affordable housing and not be subject necessarily to all of our P&Z rules and laws?” Williams said.
Brooks Avni said yes.
Williams asked how many applications under 8-30g have come into the town from developers since the June expiration of the most recent moratorium.
Brooks Avni said none.