Mayor Ben Blake says the city would consider purchasing land proposed for affordable housing in an effort to block the application which is currently being heard before the city’s planning and zoning board.
“At this point, all options are on the table,” Blake said Wednesday, a day after hundreds of residents flocked to Milford City Hall to protest for a second time the proposed 23-unit, one-and-a-half story complex at 86 Pond Point Ave.
Pond Point Avenue residents and those on neighboring streets say the development would only worsen flooding issues in the area, add to congestion on an already dangerous street and harm wildlife on the mostly-wooded site.
Blake, who took in Tuesday’s public hearing from the sidelines, said there’s “a legitimate concern” with any housing project where so many health and safety issues are raised.
“The project being proposed certainly does not fit the character of that neighborhood,” Blake said, adding that he believes there are deficiencies in the application itself.
Representatives for the developer, Colberg LLC, say a retention pond would mitigate flooding issues, state and local traffic data show minimal accidents in front of the site and there are no endangered species on the property.
It’s the planning and zoning board’s job to weigh the concerns of the public against the need for affordable housing in Milford. That is the reality of proposing a development under affordable housing state statute 8-30g.
The statute allows developers to enter towns and cities with less than 10 percent affordable housing and not be subject to local zoning laws. The housing stock considered affordable in Milford is only slightly above 6 percent.
However, there is another way out of this for the city should it decide to go that route. And that is through purchasing the 2.7-acre property. It’s something the city has done before with controversial applications, the mayor said.
In 2002, when a developer wanted to erect condominiums on the Stowe barn property, the city purchased the land. And more recently, the city bought land surrounded by farmland where a junkyard had been proposed.
At the first public hearing on the Pond Point Avenue development, attorney Danielle Bercury said the owner of the property is “willing to have a conversation” with the city about possibly purchasing the land.