And The Next 8-30(g) Affordable Housing Application Is …

Hot on the heels of the Planning & Zoning Commission’s denial of an application for construction of a 6-story, 81-unit apartment complex between Lincoln and Cross Streets, off Post Road West, comes news of a new plan, on the other side of town.

This one is smaller: just 19 units. As with other applications — Post Road West, Wilton Road and Hiawatha Lane, for example — this one includes an 8-30(g) element. That’s shorthand for the state statute that encourages “affordable” housing — and makes it harder for town officials to deny the request.

Then again, the site is smaller.

It’s 20 and 26 Morningside Drive South.

If the address sounds familiar, that’s because the property was in the news earlier this year.

Those are the sites of an 1853 house, and nearby studio and shed, formerly owned and used by noted artists Walter and Naiad Einsel.

Walter and Naiad Einsel’s South Morningside Drive house.

The plan — submitted by “Morningside Drive Homes, LLC” — consists of 19 3-bedroom townhouses, in 5 buildings. Six of those 19 units would be “income restricted,” in accordance with 8-30(g).

The studio and shed would remain. The 1853 farmhouse would be demolished.

A horseshoe-shaped private road off Morningside Drive South would serve the units. The exit would be directly across from the entrance to Greens Farms Elementary School. The entrance would be 150 feet south.

20 Morningside Drive South — on Walter and Naiad Einsel’s former property — is a candidate for 8-30(g) development. (Photo/Anna DeVito)

As reported on “06880,” a long battle pitted a developer — who wanted to subdivide the property, while retaining the older structures — against preservationists.

The Historic District Commission — with only advisory powers — voted unanimously against recommending approval of the subdivision application.

They sent their comments to the Planning and Zoning Commission. With only 1 abstention, the P&Z voted down the request to subdivide.

With this new 8-30(g) application, odds are good the P&Z is not finished with South Morningside.

45 responses to “And The Next 8-30(g) Affordable Housing Application Is …

  1. Massive thumbs down!

  2. Jean Marie Wiesen

    This is criminal!

    I thought historical homes were protected.

    The Einsels are crying.

  3. A literally insane proposal that is against everything good for the Town as a whole and is literally immoral in its intent to destroy History and a neighborhood. These Destruoers should be ashamed.

  4. Westporters, fight this fiercely. If it happens this will be the beginning of the end of many of the unique and important things which make your town a special place. So much has been lost already. Fight to save what’s left.
    Surely there are other locations in Westport, less destructive to the very soul of the town, where affordable housing can be built.

  5. Julie Fatherley

    This is tragic….We are in a vice of greed over any piece of land that seems
    amenable to multiple housing. When one wonders why we are having flooding…no land is left to absorb the overload from these heavy rains. But more significant is the lack of honoring history in this town with these people, many of whom do not live here and if they do they should be ashamed of destroying a beautiful house and open property. Creative thinking may bring another concept to retain this beautiful space for all of us to enjoy even if
    only to drive by and feel a sense of relief to see some space with just grass and trees or even beautiful gardens. Julie Fatherley

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      This is a very good point, as there is a brook that runs along that intersection at the Post Road, that was heavily flooded the last two weeks. Even more runoff would be catastrophic to safety and infrastructure in this area.

  6. This is one of the few remaining bucolic properties left in Green’s Farms.
    I hope the fight continues to save and restore this beautiful property.

  7. Elizabeth Thibault

    Historic heritage aside, this is a terrible area for them to attempt to place that many units. The traffic is already snarled and a mess in the morning and afternoons, let alone when there’s an event at school. If there’s rain, you can be waiting for 30 minutes to get from the intersection at Center Street to the school entrance. Additionally, it’s a safety hazard for all the kids and families that walk to and from school. They wouldn’t let the B&N plaza have an exit on this street because of the proximity to the school, it’d be insanity to drop down this much additional traffic even closer to the entrance.
    Predatory developers do not have our interests in mind when they make these plans. Something in character for the neighborhood that respects the history of the property and doesn’t pose safety hazards to the community should be considered.

  8. Stop ruining the charm of the town. The building on the corner of Post Rd and 33 was beautiful, old and charming and now it’s awful. They should make them restore it to how it originally was. Find another location for this housing.

    • Last year, the Westport Historic District Commission, when presented with an artist’s rendering of what the (once charming) little building at the corner of Wilton Road and Route 1 would look like once the current owner was done with it looked somewhat frightened. Local preservationists (the sworn enemies of the Westport HDC) had forced a public hearing when they noticed the building was essentially being demolished right under the town’s nose. This, of course, presented a dilemma for the HDC. Who was more loathsome – the preservationists for daring to point out what the HDC should have been on top of, or the architect/ owner who was poised to turn the beloved landmark into something resembling a cheesy Popular Mechanics project from the 1970’s? The choice, it turns out, was easy. The HDC praised the owner/architect and threw the preservationists down the stairs.

      On a darkly humorous side note, one of the HDC Commissioners thought the artist’s rendering of what the house in question would look like in the future was actually a photograph of its current appearance. She remarked “Well, what are we supposed to do? It’s already done!”

  9. When this was on the market, no residential buyer showed up? What was the price?
    Can I assume that the builder bought the property before he got any approval for his plan?

  10. Arthur C Schoeller

    This pits the 8-30g law versus Historic Districts, which I am not sure if there is any precedent testing these two against each other. If 8-30g can simply be used to mow down Historic Districts then none of them are safe across the entire state. If it’s an open question then this case needs to be brought to court. I am hoping as a town we will gear up to do that
    Art Schoeller
    President
    Greens Farms Association

    • Indeed, this is going to be interesting.

    • From 8-30g….(4) “Commission” means a zoning commission, planning commission, planning and zoning commission, zoning board of appeals or municipal agency exercising zoning or planning authority;

      A local HDC issuing a COA would not be exercising zoning or planning authority. And as such should not be subject to an 8-30g appeal. We pushed this argument 11 years when Gotham Avenue was invaded by a greedy developer. Town didn’t have the balls to back this argument then. Will they have them now?

  11. Hire another crossing guard!

  12. ..my point was if no one is buying these properties to live in — what choice does the seller have?

  13. It is sad to see the “town” I’ve known since a child turning into a city right before my eyes and P&Z lets it happen. We all know why….Mega taxes…it’s always about money, So impatient we have become as to sell to a developer rather than wait for a REAL buyer whose intentions are to live in the antique home and keep our town a town. Pretty sad what’s gone on in the past 2 decades to change the face and flavor of Westport 😦

  14. I am assuming Emil Fish (the developer) is one in the same as: http://www.fishenterprises.com/manteam.htm ? If so, interesting that they are based in California yet planning an attack on Westport. Do we know what other interests in the north east this company has?

  15. Westport’s infrastructure can’t handle all this development at this steady building pace. That’s goes for these large developments and bigger homes being built which take more resources which was only a smaller house and footprint before it was demolished or actual house enlarged and renovated.
    There’s a brook that runs through that area which I forgot about until the deluge came and flash flooded that very area of Morningside and US RT 1 (There’s a picture of a car trapped in that flash flood).
    I always admire the stone bridge when I’m in the area.
    Over here in Norwalk, they have been building these type of apartment buildings. It’s starting to tax our infrastructure and resources. (Water, sewer, school system, fire, police and ems etc… you get the idea)
    It’s changing the landscape and skyscape. You look over the city of Norwalk you don’t see trees anymore you see these apartment buildings.
    There’s has got to be a better way and more appropriate places for these developments in Westport.
    Westport will have to (or try to) upgrade it’s infrastructure if this fast pace construction continues.

    Westport was always known to be more rural with rolling estates and farms which dictated a different infrastructure.
    Norwalk also had estates and farms in the northern sections but was always more industrial and busy city in the southern end with a infrastructure being added and upgraded as the years past.
    Now infrastructure upgrades are really NOT keeping pace with the all new additional building in Westport and Norwalk.
    Just my thoughts on the matter observing and reading what going on in both places since I live on the border of Westport and my hometown Norwalk.

  16. The song remains the same. Unless you vote for CHANGE this coming election this project and others will continue in Westport. Fight all you want-the developers will be back with others.

    Vote for change and we have a chance that this nonsense ends. We know Steinberg supports 8-30g so please don’t vote for him. Vote for Greg Kraut instead, and let take CT back!!

    • Hi Bart- I think you are overlooking that Rep Steinberg actually helped in a bipartisan way to override the Governor’s veto and get a bill passed that made it easier for towns like Westport to get to the moratorium on 8-30g. Darien made it into the moratorium- why hasn’t Westport? Isn’t that a local problem?

      When all the new building on Post road is finished doesn’t that get us to the new level for a moratorium on 8-30g??

  17. I’ve seen this movie many times before. It’s called “Let us have Frankenstein and we’ll save you from Dracula”. The developer at issue is not in the business of building multi-unit housing. It wants, as it originally did, to cram as many single family residences on the land it owns as it possibly can. Nothing has changed. With that said, it’s an open question as to whether the town will make the choice to fully defend this Local Historic District and, by extension, all its others. Given the stakes, I don’t view it as a choice but that’s the call of the First Selectman.

  18. Congrats Morley, you’re the first to identify the developers apparent strategy. Scare the locals with what could be built so they’ll now be happy supporting what we actually want to build. “After all our “minor” subdivision and few single family homes plan would save the farmhouse…wouldn’t that be better?” Hopefully the P&Z isn’t or won’t be complicit in this scam.

  19. To see a home and property such as this with its historic character and century and a half of soul, left languishing by the devises of emotionless greed is unconscionable… As too, the soul of Westport fading with each passing year…

    We have our “Objects Einsel” Cherished…

  20. This just makes me ill.
    The Einsel’s were instrumental in Westport’s preservation and in Establishing the Wheeler house for The Historical Society. They took tremendous pride and care of their beloved, historic home. What is the point in those going through the process of getting a plaque of Historical significance? Why would anyone brother to go through that process now if it means nothing?
    The town should insist this be preserved.
    It should be part of the Westport art center, as a gallery or place for art classes. Not destroyed under the pretense of MOCK affordable housing.
    The charm of Westport is continually being chipped away.
    Annelise McCay

  21. The speed of improving/maintaining infrastructure of the town is lagging behind the speed of the profit-driven developers. This location is next to a puddle whenever 2 inches rainfall happened. Can’t the town officials at least try to fix the current existent issues before even accepting and discussing the new plans to take out the precious land?

  22. Barbara J. Ryan

    This is ridiculous! Everywhere you look they are either putting up townhouses, apartments, etc under the guise of 8-30g. This is turning our lovely town upside down. I moved here because Westport was a charming town. We have to a stand-up and say no more enough is enough.

    • Barbara if you really want to stop 8-30g develolment then you must use your vote it nothing will change. Hartford does not care about Westport and you can include our State Rep Steinberg who has publicly stated that Westport should build more and faster.

      Vote to Save CT. Vote to Save Westport. Vote for change or nothing will change.

      There is a wonderful person running for State Rep that will defend our Westport. He is a socially liberal candidate and fiscally moderate. His name is Greg Kraut.

      I please with you to vote to Save Westport. CR is sinking and sinking fast. Westport faces losing more state funds and also seeing more 8-30g development.

      This is not political. It’s just the facts. Your vote matters.

    • Dick Lowenstein

      Barbara, I don’t know if we’ve met, but here is how another person responded to a previous, nearly identical posting by Shuldman:

      “Hi Bart- I think you are overlooking that Rep Steinberg actually helped in a bipartisan way to override the Governor’s veto and get a bill passed that made it easier for towns like Westport to get to the moratorium on 8-30g. Darien made it into the moratorium- why hasn’t Westport? Isn’t that a local problem?”

      • Dick-unfortunately you hide from the truth. The legislation Steinberg worked in made it worse for Westport-he tried to take away the ‘look’ of Westport as a defense. Thankfully it failed!!

        By the way Dick-Forbes just a minced that t was #4 for OUTMIGRATION states in the US (outmigration of % of total moves). dick-#4!!

        Only NY and NJ and Illinois were worse.

        Party politics is destroying CT!! It’s to Savr CT. Vote to Save Westport.

    • The objective of 8-30g is to change the character of towns like Westport. If you read the history of the legislation, you will find that much of the motivation for the legislation originated in the aftermath of the Mt. Laurel decision.

  23. It’s unfair to blame one political party vs. another for 8-30g, which is an unholy alliance of social activists and profit-driven developers. Neither party is willing to say “no” to both.

    Given the less-than-ideal reality, perhaps the town P&Z folks should be doing some real “planning” to focus residential construction in places already blighted by unattractive, failing developments.

    For example: the septic tank lot on Post Road East, the nearby former Blockbuster location, or one of several long-empty or under-used commercial properties in Saugatuck like the once-proposed Tesla showroom.

    Of course these properties are owned by firms with their own plans, but perhaps in return for a smoother approval process, developers might be persuaded to make more attractive (and live-able) housing vs. the current formula of shoehorning the maximum number of units, land suitability and neighborhood be damned.

    • Peter-with all respect I could not disagree with you more. Do you know that Westport already has enough affordable homes to meet the state rega if Westport could count homes built before 1990? What such an arbitrary date? Why penalize Westport?

      If Steinberg wanted to really support Westport and not his party in Hartford, then why did the new legislation not count in home built before 1990?

      The reason-he follows his friends in hartford instead of supporting Westport. Just like he did when he voted for 2 massive tax increases that now has CT is a fiscal crisis and many of our neighbors leave CT along with many businesses. Please include his support of extending the state worker contract till 2027 that guarantees 3.5% pay raises and a NO LAYOFF policy. Just wait to see the increase in state income taxes that is coming.

      It is one party that is destroying CT and destroying Westport. It is only fair to blame that party and the person whose votes have gone against us.

      • Sorry Bart, this reads like one of those Super PAC attack ads, not a reasoned argument about the 8-30g problem. State workers contract not pertinent to this discussion.

        • Peter-just a few questions. Do you understand that Westport already has enough affordable housing that meets the state mandates if we could include the housing built before 1990? Do you thinking is fair to a Westport and it’s residents that the town will have more than what is required which also gives rise to the type of projects that are being projected?

          No politics in these questions. With all respect to you, it would be great to get your response.

          • Bart, don’t sell yourself short, everything you post is political. You could politicize a bowling ball. You are that good.

            • John-thanks for the compliment. Hopefully you know it’s for the good of Westport and CT. I sit on the states MARB (you can look it up) board and review troubled towns and cities. It’s a mess and about to get worse. Lots of work but trying my best to assist.

              But all to help. Hope you know.

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