Westport Planning & Zoning chair Danielle Dobin says:
Yesterday, the Connecticut House passed HB 6107. I’m delighted to report that the bill will have only a positive impact in Westport. Here’s a link: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2021/amd/H/pdf/2021HB-06107-R00HA-AMD.pdf
The bill contains language specifically requiring towns to consider the impact of development on the Long Island Sound. This provides additional protection against overdevelopment in Saugatuck and around Main Street.
The bill contains language requiring towns to permit a diversity of housing types, which Westport already does in our zoning code. This will have a real impact in towns across Connecticut that still don’t allow anything other than single family homes.
I was thrilled to see that the bill creates a blue ribbon commission to look at affordable housing and zoning that’s mostly made up of legislators and various state level commissioners (e.g., Housing, DEEP, Transportation, etc.), as well as representatives from the COGs. Let’s work hard as a community to ensure this group creates something better than 8-30g.
Finally, we have an opportunity to replace 8-30g with a better bill that will incentivize a diversity of housing but not push only one type of housing – oversized apartment complexes – in areas that lack infrastructure, have huge traffic issues or are zoned for single family homes. This is the chance for statewide reform that we’ve been waiting for. I’ll keep everyone posted as opportunities to weigh in on this commission’s work arise.
One important provision of the bill exempts new accessory dwelling units and accessory apartments from counting as part of overall dwelling units for 8-30(g), meaning that permitting ADUs won’t count against Westport’s compliance with the statute.
The bill requires towns to permit ADUs but also provides an opt-out mechanism for towns where these units aren’t the right fit for infrastructure, soils, et.. In Westport, we already permit ADUs in every single family zone so this provision doesn’t impact us.
The bill limits parking requirements to 1 space/studio or one-bedroom or 2 spaces/2-bedroom or above but provides an opt-out.
There’s a requirement for 4 hours of commissioner training per year. There’s no draconian penalty for non-compliance.
More excellent news is that the harmful provisions requiring every town in Connecticut to have the same as of right multifamily zoning without parking around train stations and main streets stayed out of the bill.
In my opinion this is a 180 degree improvement from the original SB 1024 bill. I’m relieved that Westport can now focus on drafting a strong affordability plan in keeping with our infrastructure, soils, traffic concerns and plans for sustainable development.
Many, many thanks to all of you who have reached out since last summer with your thoughts and especially to those of you (shoutout to Matt Mandell, Jim Marpe and Representative Stephanie Thomas) who testified with me in front of the P&D Committee. Thank you so much Representative Steinberg for ceding me your time to testify against SB 1024. It’s been a long road but common sense prevailed.
I hope you’ll all join me in thanking Representatives Steinberg and Thomas, and Senators Hwang and Haskell for advocating so strongly for thoughtful reform. This is a consensus bill that will move CT forward.