Monday, January 23, 2006
P&Z To Examine Affordable Housing
Instead of creating affordable housing solutions for the town piecemeal, the Westport Planning and Zoning Commission plans to look at the entire issue to create a better way to tackle the issue.
The commission recently withdrew changes to the town’s multi-family zoning regulations in favor of looking at all of the town’s affordable housing, said P&Z Director Laurence Bradley.
“They want to look at affordable housing more comprehensively,” he said. “They want something more specific to address affordable housing needs.”
The proposal would have removed affordable housing from the town’s cap on multi-family housing units.
The current regulations only allow 10 percent of the town’s housing stock to be multi-family housing.
The town has 8,755 family homes, so 876 multi-family units are allowed under the regulation.
There are 786 units approved, which is 8.8 percent, and an additional 90 units could be approved.
Of those units, 96 are considered affordable.
If the exemption had been approved, the total number of multi-family units left to be approved under the cap would rise to 186.
P&Z Chairwoman Eleanor Lowenstein said the commission had long discussions on the proposal, and members had varying opinions on the subject.
Some felt there should not be any cap on multi-family housing while others did not want any changes, she said.
“We all don’t want to do this in isolation, though,” she said. “We shouldn’t change this now without looking at affordable housing.”
What the commission needs to examine is how to promote private development of affordable housing because there are regulations for municipal projects, she said.
Also, there are some two-family homes that do not fall under the multi-family development catagory, which requires at least three units, Lowenstein said.
Over the years the commission has examined apartments and affordable housing and how to promote growth, she said.
“We’ve had lots of things come forward, but nothing has been approved,” she said. “I have a lot of files, a lot of thick files on the subject.”
The town currently has two regulations that promote private affordable housing development, Lowenstein said.
The commission approved a regulation for residential neighborhoods about five years ago and recently approved changes to the Saugatuck Business District to allow affordable housing.
Comments: Comment Policy
What definition of “affordable” is being used? Is it the definition that the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development uses or is it a more common/broad definition?
Note: WestportNow Publisher Gordon F. Joseloff is also First Selectman of Westport