During the shorter legislative session this year, members of the legislature may only propose bills which are fiscal in nature. Currently serving his seventh term in the General Assembly, State Representative John Frey is recommending the Housing Committee raise a number of bills this session regarding the state’s affordable housing statues, commonly known as 8-30g.
“In Ridgefield, we have seen an increasing number of 8-30g development applications, ranging from a single unit to hundreds. While well-intentioned, this statute is a club that threatens Ridgefield and many communities,” Rep. Frey said. “With the greatly reduced cost of real estate, property acquisitions by developers using this statute are all the more appealing. While changes have been submitted over the years, the need for thoughtful revisions has never been more important or necessary,” Rep. Frey added.
Rep. Frey brings a deep knowledge base of real estate and housing issues. He has been a real estate broker in Ridgefield since 1987, has served as Chairman of the Connecticut Real Estate Commission and has been a member of theUConn Business School’s Center for Real Estate and Urban Economic Studies Advisory Board since 1995.
Rep. Frey has brought four specific proposals to the Housing Committee.
The first proposal would require affordable housing developments to comply with smart growth principles and historic district regulations, when applicable. The proposed bill would require affordable housing developments to expand housing opportunities and design choices to accommodate a variety of household types and needs.
The same proposal also aims to conserve and restore and protect the natural environment, cultural and historical resources and environmental assets critical to public health and safety by ensuring developments within a historical district will be subject to historic district regulations.
“One of the most common concerns I have heard is the fear that these high density developments, not subject to many zoning regulations, could drastically change the character of Main Street, a source of community pride. Subjecting these applications to Historic District regulations seems reasonable,” Rep. Frey said.
The second proposal would require affordable housing developers who are seeking reapplications based on their economic viability to submit evidence of their financial status to the commission to confirm their applicability. This evidence may be submitted to the requesting local authority in executive session and protected from public disclosure as they may contain proprietary information.
The third concept Rep. Frey proposed would increase the moratorium for affordable housing appeals procedures to five years rather than four years.
“The Town of Ridgefield is preparing an application for a moratorium. The time and cost involved is not insignificant and warrants a longer period of time that gives municipalities relief from 8-30g applications,” Rep. Frey said.
The fourth proposal would amend affordable housing statutes to require affordable housing developments which contain any land that is within a watershed area to have a density no greater than one unit per two acres.
“During the Eureka Bennetts Farm Road application, the state Department of Public Health issued a very strong letter suggesting that a density greater than one unit per two acres in a watershed area not served by public sewer system poses a great threat to public water quality. In fact, this was specifically sited in Judge Henry Cohn’s decision of October 20, 2010. I believe it is in the public’s best interest to make this watershed development limitation part of state statue,” Rep. Frey said.
“John has discussed these proposals with me and, as an advocate of restoring local zoning control, I agree that these are necessary changes to the states affordable housing 8-30g regulations,” said Rep. Larry Miller (R-Stratford), the Ranking Member of the Housing Committee. “This is a short session, and moves at a very fast pace. As of this date, the Housing Committee has refused to raise any bills relative to 8-30g. I will work with John to find appropriate avenues this session, including amendments to bills that come to the floor.”