8-30g Affordable Housing: More Proposals On The Way

For Westport, this has been a winter without much snow.

But a blizzard of 8-30g proposals continues to swirl all over town.

8-30g is the official name of Connecticut’s affordable housing statute. It mandates that municipalities make 10 percent of their housing stock “affordable” (according to a state formula). Though Westport has a variety of such units, many were built before 1990 — the date upon which the standards are based.

Which means that developers now eye all kinds of property. Incorporating 8-30g housing helps ease the legal path toward approval.

This week, a plan was submitted for 5 residential buildings on the Roger’s Septic Tank site at 1480 Post Road East. It includes 18 1-bedroom apartments, 14 more with 2 bedrooms — and would be 30% affordable housing, as defined by 8-30g. (Click here for the complete application.)

Roger’s Septic Tanks, Post Road East

The property — between the Rio Bravo/Julian’s Pizza strip mall, and a gas station — is a throwback to the days before the Post Road was greened and cleaned. Roger’s was there for decades; before that, it was Bob’s Welding.

Several years ago, a private agreement was reached between the owner of the commercial site and homeowners on Cottage Lane — which runs behind — stipulating that no housing could be built on the property. The agreement did not involve the town. A legal battle is sure to ensue.

Meanwhile, a couple of hundred yards east, there’s talk that several properties are being gathered together for at least one 8-30g proposal. These includes Redi-Cut Carpet, Innovation Luggage and Pane e Bene restaurant; houses behind it on George Street; the now-shuttered Sono Baking Company and adjacent A&J’s Farm Market, and the Westport Tennis Club behind it.

Those properties are not all contiguous, so there could be more than one proposal. No applications have yet been filed.

The former A&J Farm Market.

Next month, another proposal — much more concrete, in the works for far longer, and at the opposite end of Westport — comes (again) before the Planning & Zoning Commission.

Felix Charney will be back with yet another plan to construct 187 units on Hiawatha Lane. The narrow road is accessible by West Ferry Lane off Saugatuck Avenue, between I-95 exit 17 and the railroad station parking lot. The developer hopes to create a “medium density housing opportunity zone” there.

The P&Z is up to its eyeballs in 8-30g issues. Still on the docket: 20-26 South Morningside Drive (where discussions continue about the historic Walter and Naiad Einsel property), and on-again, off-again 81-unit Lincoln Street/Cross Street/Post Road West development (it’s back on).

The fate of 20-26 Morningside Drive South — on Walter and Naiad Einsel’s former property — remains in doubt. (Photo/Anna DeVito)

But wait! There’s more!

This week, a legal challenge was filed after the commission turned down an application for 122 Wilton Road. That’s the 1.16-acre parcel at 122 Wilton Road — at the Kings Highway North intersection, adjacent to the Taylortown Salt Marsh and wetlands. A developer wants to build a 19-unit, 3-story, 20,078-square foot rental complex there.

“Complex” is the right word, for all these proposals.

Though it’s easy to see why developers look at the 8-30g statute, and see a cash register.

And why they’re filing a blizzard of applications and lawsuits now. As of April — thanks to recent construction like 1177 Post Road East, opposite Greens Farms Elementary School — Westport may qualify for a 4-year moratorium on affordable housing proposals.

Like shoppers stocking up on bread and milk before a snowstorm, developers race to beat the clock.

65 responses to “8-30g Affordable Housing: More Proposals On The Way

  1. Tragic!

  2. John McCarthy

    Is there really a market for all the non-affordable Units that are being built? Seems like a glut in the making.

  3. Richard Fogel

    these proposals may not marry

  4. Phil Bancroft

    I was looking at the documents related to this building site yesterday (links below, documents only work on a computer) and came to the following conclusion…

    According to the documents, in 2017 Westport had 10,399 dwelling of which only 3.57% are 8-30g compliant (371 dwellings).

    If future developments are built where 30% of the units are 8-30g compliant, a total of 3,477 units would need to be built in town to achieve the 10% goal. This would add 1,034 new 8-30g compliant dwellings to the 371 we have bringing our total to 1,405. 1,405 8-30g compliant dwellings/13,786 total dwellings gives you 10.2%.

    …3,477 units…

    This isn’t achievable and putting numbers to it helps to visiualize the impact this could have to the town. Westport needs a moratorium, and the law needs to be amended.

    Links as promised:
    Application Materials
    https://www.westportct.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=17135

    Building Plans
    https://www.westportct.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=17134

    Survey
    https://www.westportct.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=17142

    P&Z Pending Applications
    https://www.westportct.gov/index.aspx?page=1084

    • Appreciate the details of the documents. 3,477 units will destroy our town and completely overload the school system.

      I am curious to check the performance of our elected Steinberg and Haskell representing Westport’s interest in Hartford.

  5. No, no and no. What is happening to our small and quaint town? These outside developers dont care about Westport. We all need to stand up to this.

  6. Ultimately we’ll be discussing overcrowded schools and the tax payers responsibility to overcome the huge influx of renters. This isn’t smart planning

  7. Nancy Telesco

    This is getting out of hand with all of these affordable housing units going up. The character of this town is being ruined. More people moving in, more children using the schools and we the home owners are paying the taxes…..Build some Condo complexes for all the baby boomers who want to downsize.At least they contribute by paying taxes! I also feel bad for the people who live on Cottage Lane, this will effect the value of their homes…..Try dealing with town to get a permit or anything done, they make it almost impossible, I don’t understand how all of this is going to be approved!

  8. David J. Loffredo

    Some would say the character of the town was ruined long ago when the smaller houses were demolished by developers blinded by dollar signs and now Westport is littered with generic white McMansions with black windows….

    Blaming the changing town character on the introduction of affordable housing units is a form of micro aggression – perhaps you should read one of Dan’s prior posts….

    • Richard Fogel

      very thoughtful comments. Its always about the money

    • your comments qualify as a form of micro-aggression. see how silly that is?

      let’s hear productive dialogue, from all sides, without fear of being called a NIMBY, a micro-aggressor, a privileged [insert race or gender], or a racist – which have all been directed towards me during the course of legitimate 8-30g discussions and debates.

    • Amen!

  9. Mary Ruggiero

    Just throwing this in for a wild thought….would it be possible to charge some sort of tuition at the schools? Lower the property taxes and have some income from those renters with children.

    • With so many of the proposed apartments only having one bedroom, do we really think people with loads of kids will be moving in?

      • Mary Ruggiero

        Maybe not in this particular case, but…

      • As Phil pointed out, to meet the requirements of 8-30g, 3,477 units is the magic number, with 1 kid each unit, you do the math and tell me if the school can absorb it? Not to mention it cost $50M to build a new middle school!!!

  10. Michelle Benner

    These kinds of developments will overcrowd our schools without the appropriate foresight and funding. An example of this is happening right now in Lexington, MA.

    Westport needs to stand up to greedy, myopic developers and preserve what we have left of our town’s balance of livability and high standards.

  11. ‘Build more……Build faster’….Westport’s State Representative Jonathan Steinberg.

    Elections have their consequences.

  12. Addison Armstrong

    Have any of our elected state officials looked into changing the law so that housing constructed before 1990 is included in the town inventory of affordable housing? We can’t be the only town facing these predatory developers. Why not band together with other towns to amend the statute? Our representatives in Hartford need to step up!!

    • I never understood that “1990” restriction clause…Even with all the building that has gone on here in recent decades, isn’t most housing stock pre-1990? So why that huge burden in the 8-30g rule?

  13. We need to stop the overdeveloping of Westport. I moved here to be in a countrylike setting. A quaint town not like the city atmosphere of Stamford or NY suburbs. We have enough traffic congestion. Staples is now the number one high school in Ct. but won’t be if we keep building these complexes. Why is the P&Z allowing this to happen.

    • It’s not P&Z fault-its all controlled by the CT legislature and Governor. Westport votes mattered and the same guy who said Westport needs to build more affordable housing got re elected.

      This almost makes me laugh when I see all the posts against the over development when many voted to continue it.

      Votes mattered. And now Westport is going to get more building.

      You want to complain call Steinberg , but remember he said the town needs to build more. And just wait till you see all the tax increases coming.

      • Richard Fogel

        do we need more affordable housing?

      • David J. Loffredo

        Keep celebrating the “Blue Wave”….We’ll see how “liberal” people are when there are a couple hundred more units lining the Post Road and that Felix dude gets his massive Saugatuck development crammed into the swamp.

      • Elizabeth Thibault

        Bart, you’re an educated and successful man, share the expertise you have. Offer some constructive suggestions as to what you would do, besides having everyone vote differently Not to be flip, but words are easy. Share solid ideas as to what changes can be proposed that might have a snowball’s chance of being acted upon? We need ideas and action.

        • Bart Shuldman

          Thank you for your response. Two things I would do immediately:

          1) allow towns like Westport to count in all affordable homes built, not just those built after a certain date. It’s only fair.

          2) immediately put a moratorium on 8-30g so it can be reviewed and altered to stop the predatory developers. There is no reason for the allowance of skirting P&Z rules.

          • Elizabeth Thibault

            Legislators in Hartford from urban centers aren’t interested in fair, they’re interested in spreading out the population to outside the areas they’re concentrated in. Legislators from towns like ours (Gold Coast, Fairfield County, West Hartford, etc…) are significantly outnumbered, in that I don’t think anything like what you’re proposing would ever make it past a discussion in the coat room. What is something that they’d actually accept? I think one of the only things that might actually fly is buying our way out, adding a “cash component” that allows us to add more local oversight to the rules.

            • Addison Armstrong

              If there is truly no way to craft a compromise in the legislature, then the fairness of the law should be challenged in court. If the goal is to ensure enough affordable housing, then it shouldn’t matter if the threshold is met with dwelling built either before or after 1990. Towns fought the beach regulations (which were far more trivial than this) in the courts. Again, where is the leadership from our elected state officials? Band together with other similarly afflicted towns to overturn the statute in the courts!!

              • Elizabeth Thibault

                Wouldn’t a decision to file a lawsuit happen at the local leadership level, rather than a legislative representative level? (It’s not like they control the purse strings and could hire a legal team for us.) Has something like this been discussed locally, and investigated? Has there been legal challenges to the statute already? (How long has the statute been in place, even?)

                This seems like it would be an opportunity for action, for those here who want to see this taken forward, either to be overturned or modified.

  14. We had an inkling LOOOONG ago when the beautiful Victorian house on Gorham Island was demolished and we then and now have to see the garish gold office building int the middle of the Saugatuck. I’m not surprised at anything the happens with housing here. the P and Z. represent all of us
    and they should be aware that most of us do not want to see Westport increasingly become studded with these unnecessary housing developments. We, residents on Gorham Avenue, had our own fight years ago with a developer who applied for 30 condos (under the guise of afforddable housing, ) we hired a lawyer who helped us defeat that proposal, but it took many hours at tending meetings, into the wee hours of the morning sometimes, and $. for the lawyer, but we managed to get it down to 5 o Mcmansions and it’s still a travesty. There’s more, but most has ben said in the above comments from those Westporters who are concerned about the fate of our town. Do you think it would be any help for everyone concerned to write a letter to the P and Z ? Or could you forward this column to them?

  15. This reminds me of the medical marijuana dispensary “blizzard” this time last year and the golden ticket holder already sold 40% of his share to an industry recreational marijuana leader before the store was even built, let’s hope our dear P&Z do care for Westporters and do not make mistake again!

    Not to mention BMS is not up right now, the education crisis is already there, Westport cannot afford more middle-school kids until the $80M BMS is rebuilt, which seems a more profitable project for the developers anyway.

  16. I know this was posted a while back but it was never explained in any detail: why does the Saugatuck senior housing co-op not count toward the total number of units in town? I know the school was obviously built before 1990 but the conversion to affordable housing didn’t happen until after that point in time.

    From my perspective, it seems that we would want to allow and even encourage conversion of existing buildings to affordable housing units, e.g., conversion of a commercial structure downtown where residents could have easy access to mass transit as well as being able to walk to shopping.

    I looked at the law online and the regs—and I still don’t understand why the Saugatuck fails to qualify. Are there any other converted units in town similar to the Saugatuck that have been deemed not part of the total of 8-30g affordable units in Westport because the buildings were constructed before 1990? And, if so, has the town ever challenged the denial of the Saugatuck for the purpose of being counted in the number of qualifying units in town?

    • Fred – do any of those apartment at the Saugatuck qualify as affordable? They seem to be pricey!

      • Yes, there are caps on the prices, as well as on the income level of prospective buyers, etc. They are definitely below-market-price units.

        • Fred, very good point! What is the market price defined by 8-30g? Couldn’t find any strict rigorous definition of that. Is it up to being manipulated by the “state-sponsored” developers?

  17. The destruction of one of the best places to live happening right in front of us

    Bad enough the state’s a mess, now it is happening here.. agree with the statement elections have consequences

    Not in my backyard??? Guess again

  18. Bart Shuldman

    The YING and the YANG of social engineering.

    Bart Shuldman

  19. I asked Jonathan Steinberg why such complexes as Canal Park, which were built before 1990 couldn’t be counted as “Affordable Housing,” and couldn’t he do something about it. He said that lawmakers in the cities (Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven) greatly outnumber him and don’t want to change the regulations, which they pretty much wrote.

    • Addison Armstrong

      This is why, as I previously stated, our reps MUST join with those from other towns in a coalition to amend the statute to allow ALL affordable housing to be counted. As Bart Shuldman said, “It’s only fair.” I speak for myself, but get the sense that others here feel the same, we are not against affordable housing and doing our share to help lower income people (many of whom work here), but we are against rapacious developers who seek only profit from exploiting a sloppily constructed piece of legislation.

    • William Strittmatter

      You’d think he’d consider trying to form a coalition among non-urban lawmakers (even if they are, gasp, Republicans) to try to do something about this. Maybe even threaten to withhold his vote and try to block something else they want in exchange for relief on this. Maybe he has, but it certainly isn’t obvious based on what he has otherwise said on the subject.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Steinberg does not care not has he ever cared. Has anyone seen any action on his part to get the legislation changed so Westport could count in hikes built before 1990? No. He keeps saying that Westport has got to get to the mandate and that is what is happening. And happening. And happening.

      The impaCT on property taxes will be real and at some point the effect on seniors in Westport could drive them out. It costs about $20,000 per student to education in Westport and the additional apartments could add more to the education budget.

      Good luck.

  20. God forbid people who don’t make 7 figures get an opportunity to live in this town and send their kids through the school system. You all act like entitled snobs crying about their town being destroyed or the schools being overcrowded. There’s a 13:1 student teach ratio here…Look at Bridgeport that has 30+ kids in a class. The claim hate has no home here is apparently only true if you’re not poor

    • I don’t oppose adding affordable housing units and didn’t oppose it even when it literally happened adjacent to my backyard in my former Westport home. I just like to see it done in a manner that takes into account reasonable planning principles—which I think is the way many Westport residents feel— and, as you can see, I think one way that makes sense is allowing or encouraging conversions in, for example, a downtown structure that might be zoned for other, commercial use. And, yes, I think it’s more than reasonable to expect that the creation of new affordable housing units in older buildings should count towards the 8-30g numbers (if they are not being included right now).

  21. Rebecca Ellsley

    Why is this not happening in other towns like Weston / Redding / Wilton/ Fairfield/etc seems like its way more prevalent in Westport?

    • Because the other towns allow it, they don’t act like the sky is falling every time a proposal is made

    • They can’t have multi-residential housing without sewers, and Weston, Redding and most of Wilton have septic systems. Fairfield has had several 8-30g proposals as well. And they are as unpopular as in Westport.

    • William Strittmatter

      It is happening in Fairfield as well as various other towns. Wilton has been more proactive and has qualified for the moratorium. I would imagine the broader impact is not more obvious here since Dan focuses on 06880.

      • There is also the lack of public transportation in those Towns off the main line, as well as sewer/septic issues. A thought occurred to me recently about property values of those abutting the 8-30 developments. If it can be proven that there is a drop in value would the neighbors consider suing the State for reparations? Just a thought. April cannot come soon enough so we can go to moritorium!! The whole Statute is disgraceful and a real “in your face” insult to Westport especially!

  22. Mary Ruggiero

    This may be an unpopular thing to say, but dense housing brings in more people who need services with less town revenue to support it. It also changes the character of the area this housing is in, most especially when they are occupied by renters who by definition are more transient than owners. Denser also usually means less sense of community. It has little to do with income, it is more related to having stake in the community, an investment and getting to know your neighbors, and feeling like your dwelling is more than just that.

  23. Michael Calise

    Lets face it. Its all about the dominance of heavily populated area legislators (you have heard about one man one vote rulings) God Forbid! that a community of people could exist that have a higher standard of living than us! We have to bring them down to our level and never rest until we do! Perish the thought that we should work hard to bring our own educational and environmental standards up. Its much easier to blame those around us for our failures and shift the burden to them. I am not speaking to the many good hardworking people who populate our cities but rather the lazy opportunistic legislators who are coddled (aided and abetted) by many of our suburban legislators who can only cry fowl