Darien applies for new moratorium on state affordable housing statute
Darien has officially started the process to obtain a second affordable housing moratorium, allowed under the state's 8-30g statute, according to a statement from Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Ginsberg.
"This application clearly shows the commitment that the town of Darien has made towards affordable housing," First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said in the statement. "I am proud to say that we have used our four-year period from October 2010-14 very productively. But we will not be sitting idly."
Stevenson added that she has "already met with a number of builders and developers who are interested in continuing the town of Darien's successful track record of supporting the development of affordable housing. Other projects have already been approved and are in the pipeline. I am sure that we are a model for other Connecticut communities, as they struggle with accomplishing what we have done here."
Under the state statute, unless 10 percent of a town's housing units meets "affordable" income guidelines, developers can apply to build housing complexes that set aside a portion of units as affordable in exchange for density higher than would be allowed under local zoning regulations. The burden of proof falls on the local zoning board, should it deny such an application, to prove that the project would be detrimental to the town.
But if a town reaches a certain threshold of affordable housing, it can qualify for a four-year moratorium from 8-30g.
In order for Darien to qualify, the town needed to establish 141.48 "housing equivalent points." That number is 2 percent of the housing units in Darien as of the last U.S. Census in 2010. These "housing equivalent points" were earned mainly through the construction of Garden Homes by a private developer and the redevelopment of Allen O'Neill Homes by the Darien Housing Authority into The Heights at Darien.
In 2010, Darien became the third community in the state to qualify for a four-year moratorium, after Berlin and Trumbull. The state granted that moratorium in October 2010 after confirming the construction of units at AvalonBay Communities and Clock Hill Homes created enough housing equivalent points for the town to qualify.
Since that time, the Ridgefield has also applied for and been granted a moratorium.
The first step in the process is for the town to advertise its "Intent to Apply," and the commencement of a public comment period, which will either be in November or December with an official application sent to the state Department of Housing.
Once determined complete, that agency will then have 90 days to make a determination on the application; a final decision will be published in the Connecticut Law Journal.