BREAKING NEWS: Westport Gets Moratorium For 8-30g Housing

For years, Westport has grappled with the intent and consequences of Connecticut’s Affordable Housing Law.

Known as 8-30g, the regulation mandates that 10% of a town’s housing stock be “affordable.” It compels local planning and zoning boards to justify any denial of an “affordable housing” application.

The intent of 8-30g is for every community in the state to provide diverse housing stock.

However, for the purpose of calculating 8-30g, only units constructed after 1990, and those that are deed-restricted for 40 years, are considered. Most Westport units serving lower-income groups do not fall into either category.

Canal Park offers affordable housing for seniors, near downtown. However, because it was built before 1990, it does not count toward 8-30g compliance.

Developers began using 8-30g as a weapon. They proposed large developments all around town — Hiawatha Lane, Lincoln Street, Weston Road, Post Road East — with some units designated as 8-30g.

Opponents cited concerns like traffic, fire safety, and environmental encroachment. But because the regulation is written so definitively, fighting an 8-30g proposal is time-consuming, expensive and hard.

And because proposals often included only a few 8-30g units, each development meant that it could be harder — not easier — for Westport to reach the 10% threshold.

One of the most controversial housing proposals with an 8-30g component — 187 units on Hiawatha Lane, off Saugatuck Avenue by I-95 Exit 17 — will be heard tomorrow by the Planning & Zoning Commission (Thursday, 7 p.m., Town Hall). Because it was filed before today, it is unaffected by the moratorium.

However, an end — if only temporary — is at hand.

This afternoon, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe announced that Westport has received a “Certificate of Affordable Housing Completion” from the state Department of Housing. The result is a 4-year moratorium on 8-30g.

The moratorium was granted “based upon the significant progress Westport has made in supplying affordable housing,” Marpe said.

He praised members of the Planning and Zoning Commission, Planning and Zoning Department staffers, and attorney Nicholas Bamonte for helping create affordable housing opportunities, and seeing the moratorium application through to completion.

Planning and Zoning director Mary Young said that Westport joins Brookfield, Darien, Farmington, New Canaan, Ridgefield and Wilton as towns that have been granted moratoriums. Milford has an application pending.

P&Z chair Paul Lebowitz said that the moratorium “will allow the Commission to continue their efforts to create affordable housing opportunities that are in scale with and can be integrated with the community. The 4-year moratorium will not stifle our efforts to provide affordable housing in Westport.”

31 responses to “BREAKING NEWS: Westport Gets Moratorium For 8-30g Housing

  1. This is great news which will give the town some breathing space to provide for affordable housing on its own terms. Congratulations!

  2. Matthew Mandell

    This is great news and long awaited. But we still must deal with 5 8-30g projects in the pipeline. But remember it is only 4 years and we must continue our work to create affordable housing in a scale that fits with our town.

    Thursday night is a big one, Hiawatha Lane at 187 units. This completely out of character development of five 4-5 story apartment buildings where 10 single family homes now exist will bring with it the long term destruction of this small naturally occurring affordable area of town. This project is not about affordability, it’s about profitability.

    While the press made it seem like it was a done deal, it is not. They have NO secondary access for fire. The Fire Marshall said he would not sign off on this without it.

    Come out on Thursday and help the Old Saugatuck neighborhood defend their homes and community. see http://www.saveoldsaugatuck.com for info.

  3. Tom Feeley Sr

    3 cheers for sanity🎶🎉🇺🇸

  4. That is great news. Westport desires affordable housing but regrettably 8-30g creates situations where overly large projects are proposed for areas of Westport in which the buildings are eyesores and create real problems. Many people have been involved in the moratorium effort, with Jim Marpe acknowledging Attorney Nicholas Bamonte. I will only add our very fine Planning & Zoning Director, Mary Young and, as a body, the Planning & Zoning Commission, including prior Commissions. Finally, as usual Matt Mandell is spot on with his comments regarding Hiawatha Lane. Much of the private citizen effort addressing that proposal is headed by Carolanne Curry. Ms. Curry is another sound and strong voice working to address the zoning challenges that Westport confronts in the ongoing struggle to address the pressures of over or wrong development.

  5. We destroyed the village. So now it’s saved. Party on, Wayne.

  6. Arline Gertzoff

    The moratorium is a good thing but destroying a neighborhood is horrible and the plan is totally out of character with Westport

  7. God Bless! Frightful of the influx of developers changing westport forever

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  8. Good job westport, you win again! Now these unfavorable people who don’t make 7 figures a year won’t get a chance to enjoy this town and it’s many highly acclaimed resources. Is anyone aware how big the wait list is for afforadable housing in this town is? Those measly 90 or so units put up in 11 years does nothing to touch it. You all preach being Inclusive but not if it’s in your backyard, bunch of hypocrites

    • Carolanne Curry

      Ray
      Are you serious
      Have you not read the Manuel by the law firm if Shipman and Goodwin teaching developers how to royally screw a town simply for the profit… by using the wording of 8-30g
      Have you not met Attorney Timothy Hollister, the guy who taught classes to developers on how to beat the system, make huge profits and use the “affordables” as their pawns .
      Ray, that’s called exploitation
      And these attorneys like Tim Hollister, have raised it to a high art form.
      Don’t shame Westport
      Direct it where it should go…Hartford law firms like Shipman and Goodwin
      And by the way, why are you not showing your full name like the rest of us.

      • What’s your point? You can find someone out there that exploits any loop hole in any aspect of life. Personally, I’m glad someone is going to make money by giving less fortunate people an opportunity to live here. My problem is with the elitist attitude of many people in this town. Where posting signs saying hate has no home here or preaching about Westport being inclusive to all somehow makes you a good person. Yet people fight tooth and nail when there’s an 8-30g proposal because their property value may suffer, or their commute might have another 30 seconds added to it. Nobody thinks about the opportunities that affords someone when an “affordable” housing opportunity opens up. It’s five buildings, on a dead end road, next to a massive apartment complex in norwalk. The world isn’t ending if this goes in so stop acting like it

        • Bart Shuldman

          Using hate as an argument with 8-30g? Really? Are you in support of developers over those that actually need affordable housing?

          Let’s think for a second-most Development’s do not happen because people want to stop the tall buildings that our fire department cannot serve. So while developers try and try, the people needing housing sit by and watch as project after project gets rejected.

          Why not try to build conforming to local P&Z rules? Why destroy the character of the town, but instead work together to get more affordable housing that all can support?

          Add some facts to this-Westport already exceeds the state’s requirements if the town could add in housing built before 1990. Why punish Westport when the town was way ahead of the need.
          Bart Shuldman

  9. What’s affordable housing in a town where the average income is $166,307? I’m with Ray.

  10. Ray WOULD be correct except for the fact that no one has complained about the PEOPLE who will occupy 8-30g housing, we complain that the structures do not have to conform to Planning and Zoning regulations. The buildings can contravene all the regulations we have worked years to enact for the protection of current and future residents…..don’t, Ray, conflate prejudice against people with prejudice against urbanization.

  11. Larry Weisman

    One telling fact to consider when assessing the Summit Saugatuck project (without even taking into account the traffic nightmare it will cause):
    In the 20 years from 1990 to 2010, Westport’s population grew by 2.5%. Assuming 400 residents in the 187 units proposed, that development alone will increase the population by 1.5%. Seems to me, just on the face of it, like an unacceptably large project.

  12. Michael Calise

    Sorry Folks,
    Nobody is winning here! We are in an absolute mess!

  13. The 4 years of moratorium needs to be spent meeting the requirements of 8-30g on Westport’s terms, by choosing to build affordable housing to meet the 10%. Otherwise in 4 years we are back to square one… and we’d be getting what we deserve.

    The law exists because of the racial and class outcomes that are a result of zoning laws – the law does not judge intent, because intent can be debated, it judges outcomes. Westport’s demographics clearly show the outcomes.

  14. Westport should take a hard look at the latest thinking about zoning, which substitutes a “Form Based Code” for the traditional “District” approach. FBCs have been adopted in Denver, CO, Hyannis and Brewster. MA to good effect and would change our view of zoning for the better. A FBC is predicated upon a vision of what a town should look like rather than a division into districts and an enumeration of permitted uses and restrictions. It serves as a long-range planning tool as well as a guide for sensible and orderly management of growth and permits advance design of discrete neighborhoods and enactment of regulations to facilitate and encourage the desired result. It is the wave of the future and we would do well to seriously consider revising our entire approach to by modernizing our zoning regulations during the four year moratorium.

  15. Aurea de Souza

    Thank you Matt Mandell for you spot on comment-yes, we reached Moratorium with 1177 Post Road Est, but there are still 5 developments that rushed and applied before, so they still might be able to build.

    Affordable housing should be a priority anywhere, this is not the problem here. The problem with the 8-30g law is that it allows a developer to take on any property, anywhere, with any restriction and explore every square foot of it for maximum profitability. Some existing laws SHOULD NOT be allowed to be trumped by the 8-30g.

    Take 20-26 Morningside Drive for example. In order to build 16 3-bedrooms homes and 60 parking spots it will:

    Destroy one of Westport’s few Historic Districs:
    which is protected by law (http://lhdct.org/district/20-and-26-morningside-drive-south-historic-district_) and should not allowed to be changed.

    Break Zoning and Density Plans:
    This will be the 4th development right across the street from Greens Farms School taking advantage of the 8-30g law. See the current situation here– https://www.greensfarmsunited.com/overdevelopment, the School Zone is being covered by over-developed properties.

    Destroy our environment:
    dozens of protected trees (part of the Historic District) were put down over a weekend, causing immediate erosion and constant flooding in the abutted properties. The wildlife that used to live or visit the meadow is gone (https://www.greensfarmsunited.com/wetlandsandwildlife)

    Destroy our wetlands:
    The property contains Muddy Brook which is already suffering the consequences of over-development and the flooding in the area keeps on getting worse, specially since the trees were removed. The proposal has groups of homes, all with basements, built on top of the wetlands setbacks. Where is the water that cannot be absorbed by the planned “water gardens” go? According to the Engineer who did the walk through of the property, Muddy Brook.

    Affect the Safety of our School Zone:
    the already congested during student drop-off and pick-up times will be even more chaotic, due to more cars will line this school street, from the other large developments mentioned above

    Break the Town’s ordinance for driveways near schools
    One entrance of the circular driveway is located EXACTLY in front of the school’s driveway. Barnes & Noble’s tried to open a third driveway closer to the corner in 2013, and it was denied, since the town ordinance states “no such driveways should be within 400 feet of a public school driveway.” You can read the details here: https://bit.ly/2ToKPoz

    So, this is not about affordable housing or not. It is about the 8-30g allowing greedy developers ignore any law and destroy a neighborhood and a town in the name of personal profit.

    Please attend the Flood and Erosion Hearing tonight, March 6th, at Town Hall at 7:30 PM, where this plan will be discussed. Without opposition at the public hearings, the developer’s plan may be recommended for approval. More Details here:
    https://www.greensfarmsunited.com/

  16. William Strittmatter

    I suspect we might disagree on more things that we agree on but it seems to me that Ray Finkle has a valid point.

    I’m not a fan of 8-30g but, for better or worse, it is the law. It arguably should be changed at least to fix what some think are apparent errors (e.g. the inclusion of all of the pre-1990 housing in Westport assuming it meets all the other requirements for “affordable housing”). Or it should simply be repealed…however the underlying theory of restrictive zoning being a backdoor mechanism for exclusion of “undesirables” does have a long history. I didn’t notice either amendment or repeal among the recent flood of legislative proposals but perhaps I missed it.

    That aside, to Mr Finkle’s point, Westport is the poster child for cognitive dissonance.

    Let’s try a brief thought experiment.

    John Smith says “development is fine as long as it doesn’t change the character of Westport”. John Smith is righteously and gallantly defending Westport’s charm. True or False?

    John Smith says “development is fine as long as it complies with our zoning rules”. John Smith is gallantly defending Westport and its rules/laws. True or False?

    John Smith says “immigration is fine as long as it doesn’t change the character of the country”. John Smith is clearly a racist bigot living on the wrong side of history. True or False?

    John Smith says “immigration is fine as long as it complies with our laws”. John Smith is not only racist but heartless as well. True or False?

    Based on observing comments on Dan’s blog over the past several years, my estimate is that the average Westporter’s response would be “True” across the board.

    I suppose exclusion is a virtue at a local/micro level but appalling at a national/macro level.
    Anyone should be allowed into the country, but just not so much into Westport. Got it.

    But wait you say. No, no, no. Seriously, we REALLY ARE perfectly OK with affordable housing being developed in Westport as long as it complies with zoning regs and doesn’t change the character and charm of the town. However 8-30g destroys the town just so those greedy rat bastard developers can make money.

    I think most folks in Westport are smart enough to understand how disingenuous that is, at least if they took the time to think it through. Within the confines of Westport’s restrictive zoning, it is impossible to economically develop affordable housing. If it was economically feasible or attractive, builders wouldn’t be buying houses, tearing them down and replacing them with McMansions rather than affordable houses.

    Which, of course, is why there is 8-30g – to make development of affordable housing economically feasible and/or attractive. Seems to me, the only alternative (absent repeal or amendment of 8-30g) is the town subsidizing the development of zoning compliant affordable housing which, of course, would get rather expensive. But maybe that is what everyone really wants. Maybe Matt could propose that at the next RTM meeting

    • Nicely said. I’m not sure where Westport would fall on the two immigration statements, understanding those as racist is at least a medium level of wokeness, but the point is clear.

      The most common objection I’ve heard is “anyone who can afford it can buy a house here” (subtext: “therefore no objection to affordable housing is racist”). That’s why I keep bringing up the outcomes as opposed to the intent or the actions. If we cannot find a way to build affordable housing to meet 8-30g requirements over the next 4 years, when we have the freedom to do it on our terms, I think that speaks volumes.

      It helps to understand our own privileges – I’m a 3rd generation Westport resident because my father helped me make a down payment on a house I could afford because he paid for my ivy league degree in full. And I got into said ivy league school because he went there too. Could I have done all that starting from zero by myself? Maybe, but I didn’t. In buying a house in Westport we were fully conscious of the fact that we are really buying a better education for our daughter, that’s the entire point of living here, and in doing so we are continuing the cycle of privilege. One could argue that it has nothing to do with race (they’d be wrong, but that’s another debate), but you can’t argue that it’s not about class. We intentionally isolate ourselves so as to pass on our privilege to the next generation, all while claiming merit. Hence 8-30g. 10% affordable housing stock is not a real solution for this, but it’s a start.

    • Bart Shuldman

      So, there is something wrong with people who have worked hard to earn a living that want to live in westport and worry their small and intimate community will change to a city? And that is racism? Or some kind of elitism?

      Screw this sociasm. Best of luck. You have lost your way.

      Build more and faster and build bigger and bigger. forget the town. Forget the quaintness. Forget it all.

      Bart Shuldman

      • Westport is incredibly elitist and extremely racist. Just ask any person of color who lives or works here. Just ask any poor people who live here – wait, they don’t because they can’t afford it. P&Z bends over backwards for McMansion developers, granting variances left right and center. Not surprisingly the huge rise in mcmansions (and the coverage they necessitate) has directly lead to an increase in inland flooding in Westport. Storm water has nowhere to go. P&Z would never consider variances for the type of developments needed to allow for affordable housing to be built (since property is so expensive affordable housing has to be high density, large footprint, high traffic etc). If you can’t see the elitism and racism running rampant in this town, you are clearly part of the problem.

      • You don’t seem to understand socialism, racism or capitalism. Build more bigger and faster is capitalism, you asked for that. Racism isn’t always slurs and pointy hats, it’s any time we pretend we are a meritocracy while supporting systems that generate inequitable outcomes. And the socialism I support would actually stand the chance at keeping the balance you are looking for where we don’t have to change places like Westport to create an equitable society. Unlike some of the rhetoric, the point of democratic socialism is to stabilize where the bottom is, so that when you are “getting ahead” is not just getting away from poverty or being bankrupted by a single hospital visit. It’s making quality education available on all levels, college and vocational skills, and addressing some of the social issues that hold education back. It’s not putting a cap on the top, it’s making sure that those who get there cannot do so by exploiting others, exploiting the environment or exploiting the people’s government. It’s doing all this without judging who gets these benefits. If we can accept all that and create a better life for all, Westport won’t have to have a thing to do with it.

        I disagree with Lois – Westport isn’t “extremely elitist and racist,” it’s pretty average in those terms. Not that being average is good in this case…

        • Bart Shuldman

          “Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.” —Perth, Scotland, 28 May 1948, in Churchill, Europe Unite: Speeches 1947 & 1948 (London: Cassell, 1950), 347.

          • So you are resorting to outdated quotes from an avowed racist imperialist? That’s totally fine with me as it only proves my point on multiple levels.

            More Churchill quotes:
            “I hate Indians,” he once trumpeted. “They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”
            He referred to Palestinians as “barbaric hordes who ate little but camel dung.”
            As a junior member of parliament, Churchill had cheered on Britain’s plan for more conquests, insisting that its “Aryan stock is bound to triumph.”

            But I’m not interested in condemning the past, only in recognizing what current systems mean for society today and in the future. Fear of “socialism” is really the fear that the world as we built it to put our own tribe on top can only have winners and losers, not winners and people who don’t have that much but live a dignified humane existence.

            But I digress… all we need to do here is meet the requirements of the law on our own terms while we can. If our own terms means never having 10% affordable housing then the law was created to target exactly this behavior.

            • Bart Shuldman

              Westport already meets the 10%. But what is too important for you is to play the game of social realignment.

              I for one was glad to live in a Westport and will never hide from the fact I moved there because people who made some money wanted a community with great schools and parks and beaches. I am
              Ashamed of none of it, actually proud. And it was an open community that was concerned for others.

              But people like you in CT are never satisfied and just want more and more. My taxes went up considerably and I paid them. Where did the money go, not to Westport over time. The needy got some
              But most went into pockets of union people who got more then so many. Schools in CT were not improved nor roads and bridges. As people like you want to play robbin Hood, the State continues to sink.

              You want more affordable housing. Who pays? It cost a lot to send a child to school. I guess you have no issues telling seniors who have nobody in a school that they need to pay more. I for one don’t like that. Maybe you want larger class sizes so the Costa are minimal. I wiould say many do not. But you want to play Robin Hood with other people’s money.

              You call out elitism. Really? It is it hard work with guts and the desire to succeed? I think the latter. And as I gave more and more to my community and state, and I did, it was never enough. As you state. Pay more. Because that is what this is all about. Other than developers making money off all this.

              So we left. And so glad we did. I don’t have to hide who I am and listen to people like you tell me what I should do. You did. And it failed. And continues to fail.

              Best to you my friend. I will watch from afar the sinking of what was once a great state and a great town. It will start to look more like a much larger town or small city soon. You and the developers will make sure of it.

              Bart Shuldman

              • Who said anything about being ashamed of any of it? I laid out each step of how I got here in awareness, not in shame or pride. I’m not asking you or anyone else to feel shame about how they’ve benefited either, just awareness.

                Westport doesn’t already meet the 10% in the flawed way that the law was written. I never said it was perfect, just that it is the law we have to deal with and that it’s there for a reason. And I would support some kind of means tested tax abatement for seniors to keep them in their own homes in Westport, that’s important too (to make that work we’d need to stop considering the value of one’s primary residence a “means”).

              • Werner Liepolt

                Bye Felicia

  17. Annelise McCay

    The irony, as so many affordable homes are torn down for massave, expensive replacements, changing neighborhood character.

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