Thirty-one of the 102 units proposed for a multi-family residential development at Weed and Elm Streets are to be rented at “affordable” rates, according to an application filed this week with the town.
Those restricted rates—calculated using Fair Market Rents, currently about $1,033 for a one-bedroom unit and $1,264 for a two-bedroom, and made available to those who are eligible based on household income—would be in effect for the 31 apartments for 40 years, under the three-part application filed Monday with the Planning & Zoning Commission by attorney Timothy Hollister of Hartford-based Hinckley Allen.
The proposed development at 751 Weed St.—a 3.1-acre parcel owned by 751 Weed Street, LLC—is being filed as an “8-30g” application, a reference to the section number under Chapter 126a of the Connecticut General Statutes.
For towns such as New Canaan that do not meet a standard whereby 10% of all housing stock qualifies as affordable under the state’s definition, the law allows developers who set aside as affordable a certain percentage of units in new developments to skirt local planning regulations. New Canaan is not expected to achieve the 10% threshold.
Though neighboring towns including Darien and Wilton have had multiple 8-30g applications, the redevelopment at Weed and Elm would be a rare example of such a project in New Canaan.
The town in recent years has achieved relief from the state law by redeveloping New Canaan Housing Authority properties on Millport Avenue at greater density in order to create more affordable units.
Officials had hoped to earn another four-year “moratorium” with the rebuilding of the Canaan Parish complex at Lakeview Avenue and Route 123, a long-planned project. But financing was delayed by state budget difficulties and the pandemic, Housing Authority officials have said, and the town is now susceptible to 8-30g applications.
The town currently is preparing to apply for its next Certificate of Affordable Housing Completion, though no matter when that application goes in, it will take at least 90 days for the state to issue the Certificate, and 8-30g applications filed up until its issuance must be processed.
News of the proposal at Weed and Elm broke last week, after a separate application from the property owner—made to the New Canaan Water Pollution Control Authority, regarding sewer capacity and approval for hook-ups—was made public. (In New Canaan, the Board of Finance acts as WPCA, and at its Feb. 10 meeting formally noted the application’s filing and said it would make a decision in April-May, as per a 65-day timeframe spelled out under state law.)
Arnold Karp is developer and owner of the property, the sewer application said.
This week’s application to P&Z includes a site plan showing a U-shaped five-story building (one ground-level parking story, itself partially below-ground, plus four stories of residential units). The application itself has three parts: the site plan plus a proposed “Transit-Oriented Multi-Family Zone” and attendant zoning boundary change for the property, currently located in the one-acre residential zone. The proposed new zone is designed to “add to the diversity of housing types in New Canaan; and to provide housing located within walking distance of the Metro North train station and the downtown area of shops and services.” It calls for 1.5 parking spaces per unit, among other criteria related to lot coverage and dimensions, building height, floor areas and setbacks.
Hollister said in the application that “[s]everal characteristics of the parcel and surrounding area make it appropriate for the proposed multi-family residential redevelopment.” They include its proximity to the downtown and train station (a crosswalk would be installed allowing residents to get to the south side of Elm Street, where there’s a sidewalk running down toward the business district, the application said), existence of several other multifamily residences nearby and proposed total building height comparable to other homes in the neighborhood.
The proposed building meets setbacks for the one-acre zone, will be buffered through existing and supplemental trees, is consistent with a document that guides development in New Canaan and will be environmentally sustainable, Hollister said in the application.
According to an traffic assessment, “The development will slightly modify the Level of Service at the intersection of Weed and Elm, but the increases are minor – a 7.7 second increase during the AM peak hour and a 2.5 second increase during the PM peak hour.”
“Queue lengths along both Weed and Elm as a result of the development will be similar to existing conditions; the only change is an addition of 1.2 vehicles in queue at the westbound approach to the Weed and Elm intersection during the AM peak hour,” the application said.
P&Z’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Feb. 22.