HEAR FROM THE BIPARTISAN LEGISLATORS
The “DIRTY DOZEN” Zoning BillsDIRTY DOZEN
Impacts and Concerns
Good intentions are not a valid excuse for enacting poor public policy. The affordable housing crisis in CT is really due to the lack of good employment opportunities in CT and poor economic and business public policy. Lack of good jobs leads to lower income and less residents can afford to buy or rent existing market value homes in the region. The greatest challenge for CT is increasing the vitality of our state by bringing back industry, new jobs and higher paying salaries through business-friendly public policy. Transit oriented development should be focused on revitalizing all of our cities, where housing stock and adequate public transportation and infrastructure already exists. Cities receive significant State funding for infrastructure and education from the state’s coffers in PILOT and ECS grants, while the targeted suburban communities that are the focus of these bills rely almost entirely on local property taxes to fund their schools and infrastructure.
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The loss of public voice is a major concern. Those that are closest to a project and live in the neighborhood deserve to discuss the potential impacts to their own properties. See more details under “As-of-Right Development Concerns”. (SB804, SB1024, HB6570, HB6613) As-of-right development takes away public hearings. Those with the most factual, evidenced based information on direct environmental and logistical impacts to the neighboring properties, like water runoff, well limitation issues, etc. no longer have a voice. There is no affordability tied to as-of-right market rate development. It allows developers to bypass towns’ current INCLUSIONARY zoning laws that have more robust requirements and will lead to towns being flooded by luxury condos. It drives DOWN ratio of affordable units to total units, making it impossible for towns to meet the 8-30g 10% affordable housing threshold. As-of-Right development prohibits local P&Z from addressing any infrastructure impacts resulting from an individual project by allowing a local P & Z to impose conditions. Currently P&Z Commissions can impose conditions on approval. In other states, such as MA’s recent Transit Oriented Development legislation allows towns to impose fees to address these impacts.
10% affordability is only required on projects with 10+ units in SB1024.The other bills do not even have any language on affordability. Providing affordable housing is very costly to builders, so builders will apply for under just 10 units without building even one affordable unit. They may even subdivide one acre lots with 15+ unit requirements to stay below 10 units. This can lead to predatory overdevelopment while driving down ratios of affordable units to total units in a town, taking towns farther and farther away from 10% affordable requirement under 8-30g. Flooding high-cost areas, like Fairfield County with housing supply will not drop home prices enough to make them affordable by low-income earners. For example, a builder will buy and tear down one single family home that cost $1 million and build 9+ luxury units selling at $750K or more each or charging $6000+ a month for rent on a 2BR apartment. Low-income earners (60% of Median Income) can only afford up to $1,200 per month for a 2BR. Even if home prices are reduced by 50% driven by increase in supply, it is still not affordable by low-income earners in Fairfield County. (SB804, SB1024, HB6570, HB6611, HB6613)
Exponential growth stresses the town’s infrastructure, i.e. as builders max-out the property coverage on each lot, resulting in greater stormwater runoff. The towns’ existing drainage and wastewater treatment systems will be overwhelmed. There is actually language in the legislation that mandates the expansion of sewer and other infrastructure. Many of the towns being targeted, in particular in Fairfield County, receive little to no funding (of ECS, PILOT grants, school construction funding, housing development) from the state to address any such impacts. Those costs are not incurred in a linear line, but can instead step-up, like when you need to build a new fire station, expand existing sewer systems capacity or build extra cafeteria for schools so kids are not eating lunch at 10:30am. Those costs will all be incurred by the local municipalities and passed on to the residents through a reduction in local services or an increase in mill rate/property taxes. Local P&Zs must decide where and how “as-of-right” ADUs, Accessory Apts, Multi-family, mixed use are best zoned. (SB804, SB1024, SB1027, HB6570, HB6611, HB6613) Are there any other reasons the state would force market value only development besides dropping the local property values? Bronin has stated that if you flood the market, the state and towns will get extra revenues that can be used to do "cool stuff with." Yes, at no cost to the state, but at a significant cost to every town that has to deal with all the infrastructure costs from the predatory exponential market value multifamily over development, when P&Zs cannot pass some of those construction costs from a specific development project onto the developer and the costs will instead be incurred by the taxpayers in higher taxes. (SB804, SB1024, SB1027, HB6570, HB6611, HB6613)
Many suburban towns were settled over a century ago. The local roads are often not wide enough to allow for on-street parking with two-way traffic. Eliminating parking requirements results in residents parking on-street or taking downtown lot spaces that local businesses rely on desperately. Forcing cars to park on-street will make the roads and sidewalks more dangerous for pedestrians, cyclists and cause unwanted congestion. (Elimination SB804, SB1024) (Reduction SB6613, SB804)
- There are bipartisan concerns on the environmental implications of zoning proposals looking to urbanize suburbs and rural Connecticut. Dense development is proposed to center around coastline train stations along Metro North Rail. DEEP, CT's Environmental Protection Agency has a whole page dedicated to Sea Level Rise in CT and provides its studies to municipalities to assist with better planning of conservation and development. Instead of forcing TOD densification in low-lying, flood-prone areas that are susceptible to storms like Sandy, and we should rely on P&Zs to determine the best locations to build affordable and sustainable housing.
- Takes away the rights of a Conservation Commission or Regional Water Authorities from weighing in on the development of as-of-right multi-family units.
- Loosens septic restrictions to experimental septic systems that have recently had high failure rates, which then become a public health concern of the towns.
- Smart growth around transit stations prevents suburban crawl and public transit can be leveraged to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles. However, suburban residents will continue to require cars for transportation in their daily routines. Few, if any, local residents can use Metro North as a mode of transport between nearby towns. Public schools are often not located near downtowns or transit. Goods and services in Fairfield County are also priced at a premium to offset higher land prices. Low-income earners will need to shop in less expensive areas, but Metro North fare is very expensive and unaffordable for low-income earners.
- As-of-Right multi-family developments are detrimental for the architectural character of New England, a fundamental element that attracts and distinguishes us from all other States.
- Historic homes are easy targets for developers because they are relatively undervalued compared to new turn-key properties, and the restoration alternative proves more time consuming, which translates to higher costs for developers.
- These structures and spaces give each of our towns a unique architectural fabric and speak to our development, but we will continue to lose our remaining historical properties and our town centers unless we pass laws to protect and incentivize preservation.
Are there any other reasons the state would force market-value development besides dropping the local property values? Bronin has stated that if you flood the market with housing inventory, the state and towns will get extra revenues that can be used to do "cool stuff with.” However, she also states that “with more supply, prices will come down.” When property value is depressed, even with more units, new tax revenues from additional units will not provide enough funding to cover the infrastructure impacts, which impacts the towns, not the state and results in higher local property taxes, making towns even less affordable. (SB804, SB1024, HB6570, HB6613)
DUE TO THE NUMEROUS ZONING BILLS FLOODING OUR TOWNS WITH MARKET VALUE DEVELOPMENT (density of 15+ units PER ACRE), ratio of Affordable Housing will be driven DOWN relative to the increased total housing stock. State is penalizing towns for the very problem the State would have helped create. For example, SB1024, if passed, will allow developers to bypass towns’ local INCLUSIONARY zoning laws that ensure higher % of affordable housing than SB1024 requires. As towns’ affordable housing percentages goes in the wrong direction, our state-wide property tax mill rate will rise coupled with depressing property values from increase in supply. (SB1068, SB172, SB6611)
They will determine if towns are providing realistic opportunity for development; courts can approve development; courts can give towns more time or reduce goal for public health/land’s characteristics. Provide a private right of action to enforce the Zoning Enabling Act. Allow aggrieved parties (and non-profit advocacy groups) to sue a town for not getting a fair share, vague construct, who decides a town’s honest efforts? (SB1024, SB804, HB6611)
Some bills suggest the formation of a working groups to create form-based zoning codes, or to develop guidelines or incentives for municipalities to comply with affordable housing and variety of housing choice through municipal zoning regulations, to allocate “fair shares,” etc. Concerns include 1) whether the codes will be optional or mandated and 2) ensuring the makeup of the committees includes proper representation of all types of municipalities, in particular, suburban and rural communities so their concerns are adequately voiced through the group’s recommendations. Further restricts the ability for towns to get 8-30g moratoriums. (SB1066, HB6107, HB6612, HB6611, SB1024, SB1027, SB1026, HB6613, SB804, SB804, SB6570)
Local housing authorities and local P&Zs are best equipped to determine proper sighting and infrastructure impacts of any development project. (SB804)
Hartford politicians and bureaucrats are actively pursing a takeover of the local land use and zoning rights of our 169 towns and cities. See what your neighbors are writing. We need your letters too!
LOCAL DECISION RIGHTS OR HARTFORD POLITICIANS AND BUREAUCRATS
We trust ourselves and our neighbors to care more about our town and city’s people, environment, and our future
Who decided that our local zoning commissions weren’t good enough? Why would someone in Hartford want to control our local zoning decisions — what do they get from this new authority?
Why would we trust Hartford politicians and bureaucrats to care more about our town and city’s people, traffic, environment, and future, than we do ourselves?
How can they look into hearts of every zoning board member and condemn us all as racists, which is one of the most egregious accusations to make against a person?
WE MUST MAINTAIN OUR DECISION RIGHTS OVER LOCAL LAND USE AND ZONING IN OUR TOWNS AND CITIES.
WE TRUST OURSELVES AND OUR NEIGHBORS TO CONTINUE TO EXERCISE LOCAL INTEGRITY.