100-Unit Apartment Complex Planned in Guilford Under State’s Affordable Housing Statute

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GUILFORD — A plan to build a two-building apartment complex with 100 units in Guilford has been filed under the state’s affordable housing statute, 8-30g.

Connecticut Affordable Housing Initiative, a company registered to James McMahon, plans to build the apartments on Hubbard Road, near Interstate 95 in Guilford. The project would include 30 units designated for people making 80 percent or less of the state median income.

Town Planner George Kral said the project was the first application the town had received under 8-30g, and that the project would be much bigger than any multi-family housing currently in Guilford.

McMahon is asking for a subdivision of the property into two sections, and proposing two four-story, 50-unit buildings – one on each lot – to allow for separate septic systems to meet state regulations.

In total, there would be 100 one-bedroom apartments — 70 rented at market rate.

The 8-30g state statute is meant to make it easier for developers to build affordable housing, and it allows a developer to bypass typical zoning restrictions, like allowable uses, building height and density. 

The Hubbard Road application makes full use of those protections – proposing residential buildings in an industrial zone where they would not normally be allowed, and proposing apartment buildings that are taller and more dense than would be allowed in any residential district in Guilford, Kral said.

The maximum density allowed by Guilford Zoning regulations is 8 units per acre, and the Hubbard Road proposal is for 100 units on a 4-acre property.

The parcel runs alongside the West River, and two thirds of the site slopes down towards the river, according to the application. The two buildings and the parking lot will increase the runoff on the property, requiring a stormwater catch basin that plans show would be almost entirely within the 100-foot review area around the West River wetlands – triggering a review by the Inland Wetland Commission.

Because the 8-30g statute limits the Planning and Zoning Commission’s authority over the application, approval by the  Inland Wetland Commission will be key in whether the project is approved. 

The Inland Wetlands Commission has already determined the project has the potential for significant impacts on the wetlands, Kral said – and will require that the developer pay for a third-party engineer to review the application.

“That’s in order to mitigate any adverse impacts from stormwater from the project, they want to make sure it’s all done properly,” Kral said. “The part of the proposal that most people will be interested in – the development itself – will be put on hold for a little while until Inland Wetlands is finished with its business. It will be delayed for several months, depending on how quickly that third-party review takes place.”

While the project doesn’t conform with the industrial zone on Hubbard Road, Kral said the location appears to make sense as it’s not “in anyone’s backyard” and wouldn’t have the neighborhood impacts that often lead to public opposition. The area around the proposed site includes a school bus depot, an industrial warehouse, and a building and excavating contractor.

Because all of the apartments would be one-bedroom units, Kral said they don’t expect it would attract many families and would instead be geared primarily toward single people, older people, and couples.

Kral said he felt the project was being dealt with “fairly and constructively” by the town and its commissions, and said Guilford has taken a “positive attitude” towards affordable housing – having donated town property last year to a nonprofit to build 16 units of affordable housing. 

CT Examiner reached McMahon, but could not conduct an interview before publication

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