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.
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.
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.”