PO Box 163, Fairfield CT 06824

Advocates Demand Local Focus In Transit-Oriented Developments

Press release from the CT House Republican Office:

March 19, 2023

State Representative Tom O’Dea (R-125), State Rep. Tracy Marra (R-141), and State Senator Ryan Fazio (R-36) joined leadership from CT169STRONG and local zoning officials from across Connecticut to emphasize their priorities for proposed “Live, Work, Ride” legislation to build transit-oriented developments across Connecticut.

The Republican state lawmakers and local leaders were unified in a strong commitment to a community-driven approach to affordable housing and large-scale development projects. Small, highly developed towns with above-average property values, like many of those across Fairfield County, are particularly affected by restrictive state statutes on affordable housing development and recent proposals introduce additional mandates to burdened municipalities.

State Republicans and advocates for local control have two main policy aims in crafting transit-oriented development legislation:

  1. Protect critical infrastructure of small, highly developed municipalities with strong awareness of local guidelines
  2. Increase affordable housing stock by forming strong public-private partnerships with support from the state through financial incentives

“Everyone can agree that 8-30g has failed our communities in southern Fairfield County,” House Republican Deputy Leader Rep. Tom O’Dea said. “While I am invested in the goal of bolstering our stock of affordable housing with proximity to public transit, we must be especially careful that new legislation does not encroach upon municipalities and their ability to sustain these developments. The wide-ranging impacts of transit-oriented developments on our cities and towns must be studied before we proceed with statewide mandates.”

“I remain concerned that proposals like HB6890 are too broad and do not fully appreciate the best interests of each locality that will be affected by decisions made by a Hartford bureaucrat,” Rep. Tracy Marra said. “Allowing an unelected official, who would have the ability to increase housing density within a half-mile of train stations, decide how many units are deed restricted, and add “bonus zoning criteria” which has yet to be defined, will be detrimental to our community. A better approach would be to leave this decision to municipal planning and zoning committees who consider traffic impacts, school capacity and other environmental concerns.

Sen. Ryan Fazio, ranking member of the legislature’s Planning and Development Committee, who also led the discussion, said “I appreciate the good intentions behind H.B. 6890; however, as written, it only hurts communities unwilling or unable to adhere to the loosely-defined TOC and emboldens big developers to bypass zoning and push high-density housing. This bill is either too broad or too restrictive in various places, leading the Lamont administration to testify that the proposal would be ‘difficult to administer’ and ‘would not meaningfully support high-quality transit.’ The legislation may even shut certain municipalities out of receiving critical infrastructure funding if they do not meet the definition of Transit-Oriented Communities demarcated by the bill,”

“HB6890 ignores the true concept and vision of transit-oriented development and creates a “one-size fits all” approach to top-down mandated development, ignoring the nuances, needs and attributes of each of our local communities. The over densification of our communities does not make Connecticut more affordable, and this legislation is simply a gift to developers. Zoning benefits communities by ensuring consistency of land use, types of development in different zoning districts, and the pace of change, all of which preserves property values, enhances a town’s economic stability, protects historic and environmental resources, and governs the pace of change to a sustainable, supportable level, proposed laws ignore these benefits, and some conflict with other existing and proposed laws,” said Alexis Harrison, Founder and President of CT169STRONG.

H.B. 6890 was a primary subject of a public hearing in the legislature’s Planning & Development Committee on Wednesday, March 15th.

Rep. Tom O’Dea is a member of the Transportation Committee and proposed multiple pieces of legislation affecting affordable housing and transit-oriented developments. For more information on these proposals, click here.

This press release was produced by the CT House Republican Office. The views expressed here are the author’s own.