State Housing Bill Targets Train Station Neighborhoods

Last week, “06880” reported on a bill making its way through the General Assembly that could prohibit Connecticut towns from charging higher beach access fees to non-residents than residents.

Another bill introduced this week could cause even greater changes.

Bill #5429 — “An Act Concerning Transit-Oriented Development” — was introduced by the Planning and Development Committee. It would allow “as of right” development of up to 15 units per acre within a half-mile radius of any rail station. Ten percent of the units would be “affordable,” as defined by state statute. (Towns could opt to increase the affordable component.)

As written, that would allow a developer to acquire and tear down some of Westport’s most affordable current housing — around Franklin Street, Saugatuck Avenue and Hiawatha Lane — and replace it with luxury condos or apartments. Only one or two would have to fit the “affordable” criteria.

Some of Westport’s most affordable housing, like these homes on Saugatuck Avenue, could become luxury units …

It would also allow a developer to buy a home on Stony Point — the exclusive road off the Westport train station eastbound parking lot — and tear it down. In its place, he could build 15 condos or apartments, with the same provisions as above.

The half-mile radius from that train station extends toward Saugatuck Shores; across the river to include portions of Imperial Avenue, Bridge Street, Ferry Lane East and Manitou, and along Riverside Avenue.

But we’ve got 2 train stations in town. The bill would impact Greens Farms too, opening the door to 15 housing units per acre within a half-mile radius. That includes Greens Farms Road — and Beachside Avenue. Wetlands and land in the flood zone would be exempted.

… and so (conceivably) could property on Beachside Avenue.

A public hearing is set for this Monday (March 14, 10 a.m.). Residents wishing to testify virtually must register here by 3 p.m. Sunday.

Click here for the full text of Bill #5429.

 

17 responses to “State Housing Bill Targets Train Station Neighborhoods

  1. In my opinion… Legislators are out of control. None have changed the pro developer 830g to really make the regulation about affordable housing. Its all about pleasing their developers and making them rich. The state sticking their nose in towns affairs is going to destroy towns and push more people out of the state. Fairfield is already a disaster with huge, cheaply & poorly built monstrosities everywhere, that are huge fire hazards, Westport is not far behind. Connecticut is one of the top states that is regulation happy. Enough with the constant new regulation. For example, all the gun legislation targets upstanding citizens and doesnt even solve the issue of criminals that are prohibited persons, committing nearly all of the gun-related crime. How about the politicians actually roll up their sleeves and solve some problems?! Not just topically, but actually get at the root cause? Oh, that is just too difficult for them! They’d rather make it appear as if they are doing good when anyone who can think for themselves sees right through their BS. The question is when do their constituents and the citizens of this state stand up and say enough is enough?

    • And yes, my comments are generalizing a lot of things… I really wish politicians/legislators/public servants were held to the utmost highest standards… having to disclose every single personal and business relationship publicly… and face stiff fines, penalties, even jail time, for back room deals that are not fully disclosed, such as enacting new regulation that allows someone they are connected with to profit. While we are at it, perhaps its time to abolish PACs? And look closely at anything that stifles competition? Remember Tesla not being able to sell their vehicles direct in Connecticut?

  2. I’m a small landlord in Westport. When we moved here 26 years ago, 2 family rentals had to have been on the tax rolls before 1959 (I dont know about buildings with more than 2 apartments), we thought there was a finite supply of apartments. Seemed like a great investment, and so far it has been. These multi-family developments are. It only all ugly (so far), they are changing the look of our beautiful town for the worse, and our desire to give each child a roof over one’s head and an income producing apartment to lower expenses, is starting to look like it wasn’t such a good plan. We didn’t cou t on these idiots, developers and politicians to be able to damage our town like this. Very sad.

    • I almost became a small landlord in Westport (looked at a few two and three family units), I am scared to at this point. Look what is going on in the Saugatuck neighborhood. That neighborhood is a treasure. Its about to be completely destroyed. Deed restrictions overridden, etc. To your point, you made investments based on doing due diligence, knowing that there was a finite supply. Now folks are caving and letting developers do whatever they please. They are not only hurting single family residence owners whose lives will be made miserable and property values impacted but also small landlords that have two families here and there and are just trying to make ends meet and pay the bills! Its out of control! Its not fair.

  3. Donald Bergmann

    These and related issues are very, very important. I first ask our State Reps. and Senators to give all a sense of how likely it is that these measures will pass, irrespective of any possible veto by Gov. Lamont. I note that Sen. Hwang notified us of a meeting coming up on the topics. For that I thank Tony.

  4. Has there been comment from the First Selectwoman on either of these bills?

  5. Jeffrey Jacobs

    Thanks for your several worthy comments about nonsensical activities by state legislators – proposing changes in property laws for beachfronts as well as those near train stations. At what point should we be concerned about these proposals? Or should the First Selectwoman comment on each of them? But just recall: the last session of the state legislature proposed over 2800 separate bills. Exactly 244 (or less than 1 in 10) were enacted into law. In other words, 90% of the bills were proposed merely in order to get a single representative or senator some attention – from a constituent, from the media, or from a relative. Just take a deep breath …

  6. That’s a good point and is somewhat de-stressing, Jeffrey, thank you. From the comments above, Donald and Susan seem right to me, it would be good to get perspective from Ms. Tooker and Mr. Hwang- I wonder if Dan would have an interest, as a major reporter in our little corner of CT, its an interesting story….

    • Jeffrey Jacobs

      If a piece of legislation is all being seriously considered, it is first referred to a legislative committee for hearings. And only at that point, would we be likely to hear views from other reps/senators as well as from members of the media (like Dan) and from town/city officials. Otherwise, it disappears from attention!

  7. One major glaring flaw in this legislation, which is the same flaw in 8-30g is the minimum requirement of 10% affordable units. A developer gets to build 9 market rate units for every 1 included in the project. At this rate Westport will be overwhelmed with development in order to make progress towards the overall 8-30g goal of 10% affordable housing.

    While transit oriented development places housing near public transit, there are a lot of wetlands surrounding the Greens Farms station, plus no sewer.

    Another bizarre twist of state vs federal is that the current Federal Railroad Administration high speed rail plan targets the Greens Farms station for a “regional hub” where the high speed lines would merge back with Metro North and there would be a major stop between Washington and Boston. Seems the officials doing the analysis looked at a map and determined there was a lot of land around the Greens Farms station. Wetlands anyone? Sherwood Island state park anyone?

    These points aside – my quick look at a map indicates the following streets in Greens Farms would be available for development: Arrowhead Lane, Elmstead Lane, Greens Farms Road, Turkey Hill South, Morningside South, Maple Lane, Increase Lane, Clayton Street, Beachside Common, and Beachside Avenue. If you are a resident of these streets you need to take note and make your voice heard to your state officials. To date we appreciate their efforts helping us understand all the affordable housing legislation and impact.

    Art Schoeller
    President
    Greens Farms Association

  8. And within 1/2 mile of the Saugatuck station (source: calcmaps.com)

    EAST OF SAUGATUCK RIVER
    Imperial Avenue
    Wakeman Place
    Imperial Landing
    Bridge Street
    Saxon Lane
    Underhill Pkwy
    Charlotte Place
    Elaine Road
    Vani Ct
    Ferry Lane East
    Surrey Lane
    Jackie Lane
    Manitou Road
    Manitou Court
    Vista Terrace
    Glen Road
    Waterside Terrace

    WEST OF SAUGATUCK RIVER
    Riverside Ave
    Saugatuck Ave
    Salt Meadow Lane
    Treadwell Ave
    Echo Lane
    Sunrise Road
    Hogan Trail
    Robert Lane
    Bradley Lane
    Indian Hill Road
    Sachem Trail
    Kechum Street
    Franklin Street
    Charles Street
    Park Street
    Railroad Place
    Ferry Lane
    Stoney Point Road
    Burritts Landing N
    Burritts Landing S
    Indian River Green
    Ferry Lane West
    Hiawatha Lane
    Indian Hill Road
    Davenport Ave
    W End Ave
    Doctor Gillette Circle

    It would seem the Legislators are looking to upset a lot of apple carts.

  9. Jeffrey, is there anything to be done now do you think? Akin to a “nip it in the bud” strategy? Everybody posting here, I am not surprised but am VERY impressed with the intelligence of your posts, what a town! I’m gonna shut up now….

  10. I believe that zoning in fact does drive segregation, and that public transportation is a critical part of our future… but this bill won’t help either situation, it’s clearly a way to say we’re working on these issues while giving windfalls to developers. We need to create affordable housing by changing our zoning, then directly mandating and funding it, not by “incentive” with weak requirements that only produce marginally “affordable” housing. We need to support public transportation by investing in it and making it affordable (Metro North is hardly affordable), not by throwing more people near a few train stations and hoping the investment will follow. There is no perfect solution, but this seems worse than doing nothing. If we are only capable of producing legislation that drives profits we should just stop.

    • I know its a crazy idea…. owning real estate is one of the largest investments one can make….why aren’t towns buying more land, building the affordable housing themselves, and retaining ownership? To me its a no brainer and wise investment. After all the town does already own some housing directly and participates in other affordable housing developments/programs. Taxpayers end up paying one way or another, it would just be nice if things didn’t end up in developer’s pockets, and instead ended up back in the towns and communities in which the taxpayers live/work/enjoy.

  11. Stanley Seligson

    Anything I can do to help call me!!

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