Tag Archives: RTM moderator Jeff Wieser

Let’s Talk: Community Conversation Set For Affordable Housing

Nancy Kail wants affordable housing — and local control of it.

She is concerned about traffic, safety, conservation and open space.

She recognizes that there are many contradictions in those beliefs.

But she also knows that the first place to address — and untangle — them is through 8-30 g, Connecticut’s most controversial and least understood affordable housing regulation.

Nancy Kail

Kail is deeply invested in Westport. A 1980 Staples High School graduate who moved back here several years ago, she is in her first term as a Representative Town Meeting member.

But despite her long history here, and strong knowledge of local affairs, she realized during the RTM’s recent debate on the Hamlet at Saugatuck project that she did not know as much about 8-30g as she would like.

(Connecticut’s law stipulates that 10% of a municipality’s housing stock be “affordable,” under a state formula. Developers may bypass local zoning regulations if they set aside 30% of a project’s units for such housing. Towns may seek moratoriums, though only housing built after 1990 is considered in the 8-30g formula.)

The RTM’s discussion of the Hamlet proposal — sparked by a citizens’ petition, after the Planning & Zoning Commission adopted a text and map amendment that would allow a hotel/residential/retail/marina complex to be built in the area around the train station, Riverside and Railroad Place — was an eye-opener for Kail.

“I came in with an open mind, but had a definite opinion,” Kail says.

“Hearing about the implications of 8-30g on the P&Z’s decision made me do a  total 180.”

The specter of 8-30g hovered over discussions of the Hamlet at Saugatuck project.

Kail began thinking about affordable housing, and all its consequences. How did it give rise to 8-30g? What are the implications when Westport’s moratorium expires next month? What can a town do, or not do, under the 8-30g statute?

She realized she needed to know more about 8-30g, so that she could understand Westport’s approach to affordable housing.

And she realized she was not the only one needing to know more.

The result is an open forum. “The Impact of Connecticut State Statute 8-30g: What We Can Expect for 2023” is set for next Monday (February 27, 7 p.m., Westport Library).

Working with fellow RTM members Seth Braunstein, Ross Burkhardt, Jimmy Izzo, Sal Liccione, Matthew Mandell, Liz Milwe and Claudia Schaum, Kail has organized a diverse panel:

  • State Representative Jonathan Steinberg
  • Westport town attorney ira Bloom
  • Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin
  • Connecticut Center for Ending Homelessness CEO Evonne Klein.

The event will be led by RTM moderator Jeff Wieser, former CEO of Westport’s Homes with Hope.

The panel discussion will be followed by a Q-and-A, with audience members.

This is only the start of a town-wide exploration of affordable housing. Other sessions will be held later.

“We all can learn a lot, from good, solid, non-inflammatory conversations,” Kail says.