September 17, 2021

Old Lyme Planning Commission Opposes CT Bills on Affordable Housing Currently Being Considered by Legislature

OLD LYME — The following is the text of a letter being sent to various Connecticut House Representatives and State Senators by the Old Lyme Planning Commission. These include State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) and State Senator Paul Formica (R-30th), both of whose Districts include Old Lyme.

Dear Legislator: 

The Old Lyme Planning Commission supports the development of Affordable Housing (AH) in the town of Old Lyme.  This has been stated in the Town’s Plan of Conservation & Development. Zoning regulations must be modified and developed to support affordable housing yet maintain the rural and historic character of the Town.

There are unidentified affordable housing units in Town which qualify as affordable but do not have deed restrictions. Prior to any new legislation being considered, it is necessary to redefine affordable housing to ascertain what already exists in each community but is not identified under the current definition. Enacting legislation without regard to what could currently be considered to be existing affordable housing is premature and unrealistic.

Currently, two bills being considered by the Connecticut legislature (SB-1024 and SB-804) are intended to promote the construction of affordable housing in all Connecticut municipalities.  The bills would eliminate local control over most accessory dwelling units and over most multi-family housing.  If adopted, these bills would limit local control to only single-family homes.  Local municipalities would have no authority to influence the affordable housing process, including the preservation of the town’s historic appearance and rural character. 

As written, the two pieces of legislation are a one-size-fits all scenario.  The character of shore-line communities are in sharp contrast to communities in the middle of the state and also to communities in the northeast and northwest corner of the state.  Anyone making decisions concerning affordable housing that does not live within the community will not demonstrate ownership toward the character of the town.  Therefore, residence will likely be left with a housing structure based on a contractor’s priorities that will not reflect the local character of the community.  

The timing of the bills is suspect.  Available information indicates that the bills were drafted in January but not released until recently.  This appears to be an attempt to push a bill through legislation while “while under the radar.”  This commission considers this to be a disingenuous attempt by some in the legislature.  

It should also be noted that the Chairman of the Planning Commission is also a member of an Affordable Housing Task Force that has provided guidelines to the Selectman’s office for the creation of an Affordable Housing Commission that will facilitate the development of affordable housing on currently available property and the development of additional housing where feasible. 

The Old Lyme Planning Commission opposes bills SB-1024 and SB-804 in their current form. The Old Lyme Planning Commission is of the opinion that local review of any new construction is paramount to maintaining the character of the local community. 

Sincerely,

Town of Old Lyme Planning Commission,
Old Lyme.

Comments

  1. Jim Alonso says

    The Planning Commission sure is using a lot of words to say that they don’t want poor people in town.

  2. Sandra Rueb says

    Once again I am saddened by the response of The Old Lyme Planning Commission to halt efforts to build and facilitate Affordable Housing in Old Lyme. This negative view of expanding options for single people, young families, seniors, and newcomers is disgraceful. We need to change our zoning laws to allow for multi-family dwellings and make Old Lyme a welcoming place to live. Recent rising home prices have left many wonderful people unable to move into our community and older people remain in affordable residences.

    I am saddened that loud voices of conservative officials drown out those of us who want to make Old Lyme more inviting.
    Sandra Rueb

  3. Thomas D. Gotowka says

    This is very unfortunate.
    My introduction to affordable housing in Old Lyme was in 2017, when CT’s Department of Housing reported that only 1.57 percent of Old Lyme’s housing was considered affordable. Clearly, the State did not consider the “unidentified affordable housing units in Town”.
    That report was followed by the 2018 proposal by the HOPE Partnership for 37 units on Neck Road, which they eventually withdrew after incredibly intense and well-organized opposition.
    The New London Day, in a retrospective on the project, reported that “While there are many in town who support the project, it has become increasingly apparent that a very vocal fraction of Old Lyme residents is not in support”.
    At the time, Old Lyme’s faith leaders also collectively supported the need for affordable housing.
    Perhaps the State’s interest in local housing will prompt the Commission to take some positive action, rather than reacting only to “that very vocal fraction not in support”
    I don’t feel that the solution, as suggested by the Planning Commission in their letter of opposition, is to just “redefine affordable housing”.

  4. Bill Folland says

    Talk,talk,talk, those who appose the position of the Planning Commission would be better served by bypassing the planning commission and change the Plan of Conservation and Development, to include proposals but forth in the two bills before our state legislature ,via the Petition process and a Special Town Meeting that would approve of disapprove the changes. Anything short of this action is useless chatter.

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