Darien moratorium being questioned
Only weeks after Darien was granted a moratorium, the town is pulling together information on Clock Hill Homes to determine if the units are in accordance with the 8-30g statute.
First Selectman David Campbell explained that Clock Hill Homes is being questioned in order to clarify that the town did not sell any of the units to people whose incomes exceeded 80 percent of the area median income.
"We feel that with our research there's no problem with the income levels," Campbell said. "We're confident that everyone in there complies with the 80 percent median area income stipulation."
In a letter to Campbell from the Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, Joan McDonald of the DECD said "information has to come light which, if corroborated, would indicate that the authority has administered the Clock Hill Homes deed restrictions in a manner which has resulted in sales to households whose income exceeds eighty percent (80 percent) of area median income."
The letter goes on to say that a response is required by Nov. 15 in order for the town to retain its moratorium. The DECD requires that the town provide a written explanation that addresses the issues with Clock Hill Homes.
"As you are well aware, DECD does not have oversight of the enforcement of or implementation of the deed restriction as administered by the Darien Housing Authority; this responsibility resides solely with the Town of Darien," the letter states. "Please provide a written response and explanation which: i) addresses whether the affordability restrictions for Clock Hill Homes are being administered in a manner consistent with the deeds' stated affordability restrictions and ii) furnishes a detailed analysis of your findings for all the Clock Hill Homes."
The letter also mentions that if any errors are discovered while researching Clock Hill Homes, the town must also provide an explanation of how the town will avoid making similar errors in the future.
Campbell explained there are repercussions for towns if they fail to provide accurate information to the DECD.
"If you did misrepresent information in the application then there is a period of three years where you can't reapply for a moratorium," Campbell said.
In addition to gathering the necessary information for the DECD, Christopher and Margaret Stefanoni have also submitted two more applications for affordable housing developments. The first development would be on Hoyt Street and the second would be at the intersection of Tokeneke Road and Pheasant Run.
As part of the approval process for the developments, both of which involve building a structure that would house 30 units, 30 percent of which would be affordable housing. However, because the Stefanonis did not submit a traffic study with either application, the Planning and Zoning Commission determined the applications were incomplete and delayed taking any action until Nov. 30. Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Ginsberg read the requirements for the traffic study which would need to be included in the application. The components of the study would have to include information about existing roadway conditions; traffic volume data, particularly at peak times during the day; traffic generated by the proposed use and activity; comparing the existing traffic conditions with the proposed traffic projections; accident data; sight line data for regulated speeds and actual traffic speeds; layout for access by large vehicles; layout of parking; parking demand; pedestrian access and safety; as well as parking on and adjacent to this site.
Chris Stefanoni, in a statement, said the town is acting unfairly in regards to affordable housing.
"Our Town government embarrassed itself again Tuesday night, and it is shameful that Darien keeps stooping so low not to be inclusive," he wrote. "For the last five years, my wife and I have fought uphill battles against Darien land use commissions that misadminister the rules to protect the Town's `character' and `way of life' which are no longer compatible with the modern ideals of diversity in our country."
Stefanoni went on to say that he and his wife will be meeting with a Department of Justice investigative team to submit testimonials and materials in regards to the handling of inclusionary zoning in Darien.
"However, the State and Federal government have recently expressed serious concerns about Darien's conduct with regard to affordable housing," Stefanoni said. "My wife and I, as well as others, have been asked to travel to meet with an investigative team from the Department of Justice next week to submit testimony and materials, going back to 2005."
Stefanoni expresses an interest in seeing the town move forward in terms of fairness and decency.
"With some time, effort and hope, Darien could move from the 19th century into the 21st century, and that would be pleasing to anyone who believes in fairness and decency," Stefanoni said.