The Chinese call this the Year of the Red Fire Monkey.
In Westport, it’s the Year of 8-30g.
That Connecticut statute allows developers to override local zoning regulations if less than 10% of a town’s housing stock is “affordable” (according to state formulas).
Towns can apply for a 4-year moratorium from being subject to 8-30g if they can show “affordable housing equivalency points” equal to 2 percent of their housing stock. During the moratorium, towns can rezone, encourage mixed-income housing, or work with developers to build projects together.
Westport mandates that any multi-family housing proposal must be at least 20% affordable.
But 8-30g overrides virtually all local regulations — height, density, location, anything really except public safety or environmental.
So any developer may offer a plan that includes 30% affordable housing.
He won’t say he’s selling 70% of his units at what are high-end market rates.
Right now, Westport is debating 2 proposals: Hiawatha Lane and 1177 Post Road East.
The 70 affordable units proposed for Hiawatha — off Saugatuck Avenue, near I-95 Exit 17 — while technically not part of an 8-30g proposal, would bring us over the points needed for the 4-year moratorium.
So would the 30 affordable units proposed as part of the 94-apartment building at 1177 Post Road East, opposite Crate & Barrel.
However, the moratorium would not take effect until either of those projects is actually built.
Until then, any developer can buy property in town, and file an 8-30g proposal.
Several housing developments around Westport — Hales Court, Sasco Creek, Canal Park, the former Saugatuck Elementary School on Bridge Street — prove that Westport cares about affordable housing. And we do it right.
The next couple of years, though, may see a bit of monkey business.
The developers’ — not the red fire monkey — kind.