Eligibility Shift May Limit New Housing, Upset Plans Across Southeast Connecticut

A proposed change in how the state distributes federal subsidies for low-income housing could limit investment in some eastern Connecticut towns, Democratic lawmakers warn, and reshape established patterns of development for others, like Stonington and East Lyme. The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, which oversees and distributes incentive programs to develop low-income and affordable housing, has proposed changing its “opportunity map” to reflect census tracts rather than municipal-level data to determine eligibility for funding. Projects in areas with higher opportunity scores – based on factors that include school performance and access to jobs – are more likely to receive tax credits,

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The Docks Is Open to Renters, More Buildings to Come

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NEW LONDON — Officials and well-wishers enjoyed the harbor view from the sunny fourth floor deck of The Docks, a new 137-unit building at 500 Bank St., before stepping indoors for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of construction on Thursday.  On the deck, pre-ceremony, Jason Kambitsis, senior vice president of acquisitions and development for AR Building Co. of Pittsburgh, which developed the building, said there had been many concepts for the 2.5-acre site formerly known as Perkins Green.  “Since we’ve been working on this, there were myriad ideas that happened on this property before, but we’ve always looked

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Debating Changes to Connecticut’s Housing and Zoning Laws

On Thursday night, the State Senate approved changes Connecticut’s housing and zoning laws after a lengthy debate, for and against the legislation. Below are a series of voices capturing the spirit of that debate. State Sen. Martin Looney, D-New Haven, argued Connecticut is held back in many ways because of its municipal structure, which dates back to the 17th century, and what he called the state’s “hyper-localism.”  “No one laying out Connecticut today would devise 169 separate municipalities without some sort of organizing or regional construct to help them engage in cooperation,” he said.  Looney said that because the state

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Housing Bill Get Nods in Senate — a Small Step — as Lawmakers Debate Direction

HARTFORD — The State Senate approved a zoning bill on Thursday night that was hailed as “historic” by housing advocates, and a step toward state control of local decision-making by its opponents. The bill passed in the House on May 20 and still requires the signature of Gov. Ned Lamont.  The legislation, approved in a 23-13 vote, includes provisions that allow accessory dwelling units as of right on lots with single family houses and reduce parking minimums, but also allows towns to opt out of some requirements by a ⅔ vote of their Board of Selectmen or legislative board. Among

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Former Mohegan Sun CEO to Build First Multifamily Housing Complex in Haddam

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A 56-unit, market-rate apartment complex will become the first multifamily housing project in Haddam next year, after receiving approval from the town planning and zoning commission last Thursday. The Haddam Planning and Zoning Committee unanimously approved a site plan for a 56 unit apartment complex at 1564 Saybrook Road and 3 Brookes Court, near Bridge Street. The developing company, Elm Tree Partners, is owned by former Mohegan Sun CEO Jeff Hartmann. The project includes three apartment buildings and one community clubhouse. Each will be served by its own septic system to satisfy health code regulations, according to Civil engineer Graham

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Few See ‘Win,’ as House Approves Less Far-Reaching Housing Law

HARTFORD — The House approved an affordable housing bill on Thursday night that cut back on more far-reaching provisions proposed in a number of housing bills previously debated this session — a compromise that satisfied neither housing advocates looking for strong statewide measures nor opponents of state-mandated zoning.   H.B. 6107, as amended, passed with 84 yay votes, 59 nays and 8 members not voting.  State Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, D-Fairfield, who is co-chair of the Planning and Development Committee, presented the bill, which she said reorganizes the Zoning Enabling Act and amends the state land use statute “to provide greater clarity

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Five Questions on Zoning and Housing with Jason Rojas

State Rep. Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford, is a sponsor of H.B. 6611, the “Fair Share” affordable housing bill, which was killed in the Judiciary Committee on May 3. The bill would have assessed affordable housing needs statewide and allocated a “fair share” goal by region based on a formula that included a town’s wealth, median income, and percentage of poverty and multifamily housing stock.  On Friday, Rojas spoke with CT Examiner about housing and zoning issues in Connecticut. He is the vice chair of the Legislative Committee and began serving as House Majority Leader in 2021. What should the state’s

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Housing Activists Call for Action at Rally in Deep River

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DEEP RIVER —  At the front steps of Town Hall on Saturday about 75 people rallied in support of housing equity, zoning reform and S.B. 1024 — a housing and zoning bill that will likely advance to a vote in the General Assembly during the legislative session ending June 10.  Three groups — DesegregateCT, The Valley Stands Up, and March for Justice — co-hosted the “Rally for Housing Justice,” which included speakers who urged attendees to tell their state representatives and senators to support S.B. 1024.  “Legislative leadership must call this bill, we want for it to get a vote. We

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Affordable Housing Advocates Look to Revive ‘Fair Share’ Bill Before End of Session

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On Monday, House Bill 6611, the so-called “Fair Share” affordable housing bill was killed in committee, but State Rep. Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford, who sponsored the legislation, said he is not giving up.  “My strategy is I am going to talk to [State Rep. Craig Fishbein, D-Wallingford] who had threatened to filibuster the bill, which is exactly why it died. I’m actually going to talk to him and see if there’s an opportunity to find some middle ground,” Rojas told CT Examiner on Thursday. The Fair Share legislation would have assessed each town in Connecticut with a goal for affordable

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Madison the Site of a Rally for Local Control of Housing and Zoning

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MADISON — In front of Town Hall Saturday, about 45 people, including local and state legislators and members of CT169Strong, rallied against several proposed housing and zoning bills that they said will transfer local control to Hartford.  “The issues that really resonate in Madison are local control — we’re a very engaged community here, people come out and they have opinions. We are really good at problem solving in a way that works for Madison, so I can’t support anything that takes local control away from us,” said Madison Selectman Bruce Wilson, who was among the speakers at the rally. 

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Steven Mullins Takes 5 Questions on Zoning and Housing

CT Examiner asked five questions on the topic of zoning and affordable housing to Steven R. Mullins, a long-time member of the Planning and Zoning Commission of West Haven. Mullins has been a prominent opponent of S.B. 1024 and several other zoning bills that are currently being considered in the legislature.  What should the state’s role be in providing affordability for Connecticut residents? The way I see it, as it stands right now. I can live anywhere that I can afford to live, and being a minority I’m able to do that. Anyone can live anywhere that they can actually

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Lamont Announces $58 Million Federal Grant to Tackle Homelessness Over 10 Years

Alongside U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge and Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Gov. Ned Lamont announced $58 million in federal dollars to fund affordable housing and services for the homeless in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.  “The Department of Housing and Urban Development has allocated American Rescue Plan funds to those who have borne the brunt of this crisis: people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness,” Fudge said. “Five billion dollars in homelessness assistance has been allocated to 651 grantees, including states, tribal areas and local governments, to help communities increase affordable housing and

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Scaled-back Zoning Legislation Advances in Connecticut General Assembly

HARTFORD — The state legislature’s Planning and Development Committee approved a scaled-down version of zoning legislation proposed by Desegregate CT in an 8-hour zoom session Wednesday. Missing from S.B. 1024, was section 6, which included new rules regarding transit oriented development, language that allowed “as of right” mixed-use and multifamily developments within one-half mile of a town’s primary transit station. Section six also would have allowed multifamily housing or at least two types of “middle housing” within one-quarter mile of at least one main street corridor in towns with a population of at least 7,500.  Also absent from the approved

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Legislature to Hold Wednesday Hearing on Raft of Housing and Zoning Legislation

HARTFORD — A raft of zoning and housing bills introduced in the state legislature since January turn on key points concerning the balance of home rule and state control, as well as issues of housing affordability, racial integration and equity. A number of these bills have received hearings variously in Transportation, Planning and Development, Housing and Budget and Finance committees, and while legislators interviewed by CT Examiner expect that some provisions will eventually pass into law, very few of these bills will receive a vote and fewer still in their current form. “These are works in progress and there’s a

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Housing Development in Madison Sparks Opposition, Legal Fight

MADISON — A proposed seven-unit development at 856 Boston Post Road may comply with the town’s new regulations for cluster housing, but a growing number of town residents oppose the project, including some who have hired an attorney to intervene in the process. The project would renovate the interior of The Ledges into two housing units and add a two-car garage for each unit. The 5-bedroom, 5,586-square-foot house was originally built in 1903 on 1.81 acres. Behind the house, two duplexes would be constructed, each with a two-car garage per unit, in addition to a single unit “gatehouse” home that

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A Rundown of Testimony from Local Residents on New Housing and Zoning Rules Proposed by Desegregate CT

Legislators, local officials and members of the public testified in total for more than 24 hours and submitted an additional 365 letters — splitting roughly 60 percent in favor to 40 percent opposed to Senate Bill 1024. The bill represents the platform of Desegregate Connecticut, an affiliate of the Regional Plan Association and self-described coalition of more than 60 organizations focused on an “overall goal of tackling segregation in land use laws.”  Below are excerpts from letters for and against the bill from residents of southeastern Connecticut:  … I strongly believe that the zoning reforms in SB 1024 will positively impact communities across

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Housing Debate in Legislature Stretches into Day Two

As of 6 p.m. Monday, the debate regarding the controversial zoning bill 1024 in the legislature’s Planning and Development Committee had lasted eight hours, with a few brief breaks to discuss other legislation. At 6 a.m. on Tuesday, the debate continued… “It allows towns to focus development around infrastructure where it already exists in our main streets and train stations in those areas representing less than one percent of the state. Local town boards would write the rules in advance and the staff would administer them — that’s what we mean by ‘as of right,’ not a free for all,”

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A Battle Pitting Local versus State Control at the Heart of Legislation to Change Housing in Connecticut

Local regulation of accessory apartments, mixed-use developments and multifamily housing could change dramatically if new legislation supported by the coalition Desegregate Connecticut is signed into law. Bill 1024 is among a number of housing bills on the public hearing agenda of the Planning and Development Committee of the General Assembly on Monday at 10 a.m.  The bill represents the platform of Desegregate Connecticut, an affiliate of the Regional Plan Association and self-described coalition of more than 60 organizations focused on an “overall goal of tackling segregation in land use laws.”  Among some of its components, Bill 1024 would allow accessory

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Cottage Road Housing Development in Madison to Break Ground in 2022

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MADISON — The 1808 home of Henry Josiah Meigs at 131 Cottage Road is slated to become part of Wellington at Madison, a 31-unit housing complex with 24 affordable and 7 market rate units situated on 2.6 acres.  The project is a collaboration between HOPE Partnership, a Connecticut nonprofit that develops affordable housing, and the Caleb Group, a nonprofit that has created affordable housing communities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.  “The way it’s designed is smaller buildings that really actually do give you that community and village kind of feel to it. It isn’t a five-story building. It

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New Britain Announces Loan Program for First-time Homebuyers

NEW BRITAIN — The City of New Britain is accepting applications for a program that grants loans to individuals and families who earn under a threshold income and want to purchase a home. The funding, which comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, acts as a second mortgage for people who already have taken out loans under Fannie Mae, the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, the Federal Housing Authority and other programs.  New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart said that in light of the housing boom in Connecticut, she felt it was time to revive the program, which had

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A Decades-Old Homeless Encampment, Health Concerns and a ‘Housing Carousel’

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WATERFORD — On Thursday morning, a man named Adam and Waterford Police Lt. Marc Balestracci stood talking in the woods as a decades-old homeless encampment just off the Post Road was cleaned out. “I just wish you would consider some of the opportunities that are being offered. Even if you disagree with the whole idea of moving temporarily,” Balestracci advised Adam, who wore a stethoscope draped around his neck and is known as “Doc” in the homeless community.  “‘Temporarily,’ ah, see, the problem is that this whole process is temporary,” Adam replied to Balestracci, who stood near a tree with

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$13.3 Million for Twelve Small Cities Across Connecticut

Twelve municipalities across the state received federal grant funding totaling $13.3 million through the Community Development Block Grant Small Cities program, Gov. Ned Lamont and Connecticut Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno announced on Friday.  Administered by the Connecticut Department of Housing with funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the program funds projects that develop housing and infrastructure in smaller communities to primarily benefit lower-income residents.    “These grants go a long way toward improving neighborhoods so that we can make our communities more attractive and encourage continued growth for the benefit of all of our residents,” Gov. Ned

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As Winter Approaches, Connecticut Works Toward Safer Solutions for Homelessness

Connecticut is again looking to increase space available for people without shelter this winter to stay in motels amid fears that church basements and other traditional warming centers aren’t equipped to prevent the spread of COVID-19. When the virus began to spread quickly throughout Connecticut in March, the state contracted with hotels to move people out of crowded, congregate living spaces out of concern for COVID outbreaks among people without housing. In a similar effort, the state is using federal money to contract with hotels to keep warming shelter capacity at pre-pandemic levels this winter. In Middletown, the state has

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Housing Advocates Press for Added Funding as Aid Program Relaunches

The Connecticut Department of Housing is once again accepting applications for a program that offers up to $4,000 in rental assistance to individuals who have suffered economically from the effects of the coronavirus. Yet advocates and housing counselors are concerned that the available funding will not be enough to match either the number of people in need of assistance or the amount of debt that individual tenants find themselves facing.  The program, known officially as the Temporary Rental and Housing Assistance Program, began in mid-July, but was shut down six weeks later after being overwhelmed with applications. The program reopened

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Mixed-Income Housing Development Approved for Site of Former Campbell Grain Building in Pawcatuck

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STONINGTON — The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a five-story, 82-unit mixed-income housing project for the long-blighted site of the former Campbell Grain building in Pawcatuck, during a virtual meeting Tuesday night.  Winn Development, a division of Winn Companies of Boston, proposed the project under the state 8-30g statute for the 1.89-acre site at 15 Coggswell Street and 27 West Broad Street in Pawcatuck. In 2019, 5.93 percent of the housing stock in Stonington was classified as affordable under state statute. The proposed project will lease 30 percent of the units at market rates and 70 percent will be restricted

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Diebolt Details Planned Housing Development in Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — “I’ve lived in town for 30 years and it seems like a great opportunity for what the town needs. We’re going to ‘do well by doing good.’ What we’re trying to do is make something that we’re proud to build and own and to provide as another housing alternative,” said Mark Diebolt, owner of the 20.6-acre parcel at 49 Hatchetts Hill Road where he and two partners plan to build a large apartment complex that will include 30 percent affordable units qualifying under the 8-30g statute.  “It’s going to look like a New England village,” said Diebolt

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224-Unit Housing Development Considered for Hatchetts Hill Road in Old Lyme

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OLD LYME —  At its Sept. 21 meeting, local resident Mark Diebolt will discuss plans with the Affordable Housing Committee to build a 224-unit, 11-building residential complex at 49 Hatchetts Hill Road, a 20.6-acre site just south of I-95 near exit 71. The complex is expected to include 30 percent affordable housing under state statute 8-30g. Vice-chair Karen Winters told committee members at an Aug. 31 meeting that Diebolt was interested in speaking with the committee, and with other town commissions, about the project.  Committee member Harold Thompson said that he had already spoken with Diebolt about the need for

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Hope Partnership Housing in Essex to Finish by End of February

ESSEX — On Wednesday afternoon, the sheetrock was up in several of the apartments under construction on the second and third floors of the long, brick building at 90 Main Street known as Spencer’s Corner.  The $5.1 million project, called The Lofts at Spencer’s Corner, invests $4.5 million in construction costs to redevelop one of the central commercial properties in the village of Centerbrook.  “This is exciting, I hadn’t seen these spaces yet,” said Loretta McCluskey, operations manager for Hope Partnership, Inc., as she walked into one of the units under construction.  McCluskey led the way through a sawdust-scented hallway

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$6.9 Million Federal Grant Announced for Low-Income Housing in Connecticut for People with Disabilities

HARTFORD — The Connecticut Department of Housing announced Tuesday that it has received a large federal grant to support rental housing for people with disabilities who have extremely low incomes. The $6.9 million grant will provide an additional 113 new units of housing. According to a press release, the funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development “will support up to five years of rental assistance for approximately 113 units of housing in buildings participating in project rental assistance through HUD’s Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program.” Currently 70 households of people with disabilities receive rental assistance

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Sara Bronin Steps Down After 7 Years on Hartford’s Planning and Zoning Commission, Sets Sights on Housing Statewide

“Zoning first arose 100 years ago in the 1920s to help to order the city, to separate uses from each other and frankly to separate people from people,” said Sara Bronin. “While Connecticut did not have explicit racial zoning like many Southern cities did, the effects of Connecticut zoning laws have been no less discriminatory in effect.”  Bronin, an architect and law professor at the University of Connecticut, has stepped down as chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission of the City of Hartford, in part to work with DesegregateCT, a coalition of more than thirty organizations focused on statewide

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