States Passes Zoning Reform

Yesterday, the Connecticut Senate passed HB 6107 — the same zoning bill passed previously by the state House. Click here for the full text.

As noted by Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin on “06880” last week, 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 also 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.

Westport has added diverse housing in areas like 793 Post Road East. Homes are set back from the Post Road, between residential and retail areas.

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. This may lead to a revision of 8-30g, the controversial “affordable housing” regulation.

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). This means 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, etc. Westport also permits ADUs in every single family zone, so this provision will not 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.

State Senator Will Haskell calls this “a very modest bill aimed at increasing housing supply in our state.” He praises the work of P&Z commissions in his district, for working together, adding that the legislation “does not infringe on local control, but instead empowers local commissioners to create more housing diversity without altering the look of their community.”

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In other P&Z news, last night Westport’s unanimously approved a new façade and site plan for the old Barnes & Noble building.

The new tenant — who will also occupy the adjacent Marshall’s Shoe Store space — is an as-yet-unnamed grocery store. It’s widely believed around town to be Amazon Go. featuring automated technology.

Coming soon: a new facade — and tenant.

 

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