The Board of Selectmen Monday approved the creation of a trust fund to handle the fees from affordable housing.
The board unanimously approved the implementation of an advisory commission to handle the trust fund and will determine how the fees-in-lieu from affordable housing will be spent. The money can only be used for affordable housing, Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Ginsberg said at the meeting.
"When a developer opts in conjunction with their planning and zoning to pay a fee-in-lieu, the town has to have a vehicle to provide a receipt for the funds," First Selectman Jayme Stevenson told the board. "To date, we don't have such a vehicle yet. We have received our first pay-in-lieu payment, so we are in a position to create the mechanism to deal with this position and future positions."
The funds may be used for purchasing, constructing, rehabilitating or repairing affordable housing, according to the trust fund's ordinance, which was presented at the Board of Selectmen meeting. The ordinance will take effect Jan. 1.
In 2009, the Planning and Zoning Commission established the inclusionary zoning regulations that require new developers to construct at least 12 percent of the housing project as affordable. Otherwise, the developer can opt to pay a fee-in-lieu of building affordable homes. The regulations only apply to developments with five or more housing units.
"When the Planning and Zoning adopted the inclusionary zoning in 2009, they laid the groundwork for fee-in-lieu, and obviously they weren't sure which developments were coming their way," Ginsberg said.
Darien received a moratorium from compliance with state statute 8-30g in 2010. The statute allows developers to bypass local zoning laws in towns that have less than 10 percent of homes classified as affordable housing. The town has until October 2014 to achieve 10 percent of affordable housing or 8-30g will apply once again.
"The goal of the inclusionary zoning and this fund in particular, as I see it, is to encourage, is to evidence the town's support for increasing our stock of affordable housing," Stevenson said.
"Funds in this trust fund are meant to leverage our ability to increase the town's stock of affordable housing."
The Board of Selectmen will appoint an advisory commission to oversee the trust fund. The commission will serve in a capacity similar to a pension board.
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