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Milford PZB Denies Controversial Woodmont Affordable Housing Project

Residents relieved over project's denial

Milford City Hall
Milford City Hall

William Stark and his fellow Woodmont residents can now all breathe a collective sigh of relief. 

The Planning and Zoning Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to deny a developer’s bid to construct a controversial 8-unit affordable housing complex at 1556 New Haven Avenue. 

When the PZB made its decision, a thunderous applause rang out at City Hall. 

“I was relieved,” Stark said after the vote. “I didn’t know which was it was going to go based on a lack of reaction from the board in the initial hearing.” 

More than 50 Woodmont residents packed City Hall last month to oppose the plan. Speakers cited a host of concerns including safety, flooding, traffic and density issues.

Several PZB members cited health and safety concerns as reasons for their denial. PZB member James Quish said he thinks its “dangerous” walking up an active driveway from the rear of the parcel. 

Vice Chairwoman Jeanne K. Cervin said her concerns centered on a lack of parking spaces. She said no spaces were designated for visitors, and there were no lots nearby. 

“These are my major concerns,” Cervin said. 

PZB member Thomas Nichol said he is concerned that there is not enough room for fire trucks to navigate the complex. 

Chairman Ben Gettinger credited neighbors and their testimony as reasons for why he voted for a denial. Edward Mead, a zoning member, said he has density concerns, and cited a lack of green space proposed for children to play on. 

The PZB’s denial comes on the heals of legislation that would make Milford immune to the state’s affordable housing statute until 2015. This means a developer could not circumvent local zoning laws by filing an affordable housing application. 

Stark like Mead said his biggest concern centered on density. He said the moratorium likely played a role in the PZB’s vote. 

“There has got to be a way to change the affordable housing statute so it doesn’t ruin neighborhoods,” Stark said. 

The applicant’s attorney Kevin Curseaden, of Milford, had told Planning and Zoning Board members that the proposal includes reconfiguring an existing two-family house on the site. Additionally, two new buildings would have been constructed, which would have added three units in each facility. 

JP June 05, 2014 at 07:26 AM
This is why some of us will be moving out of CT soon -- the state legislature and local zoning boards dictating housing development and randomly deciding to change the structure of neighborhoods that have been in place for decades
tlkensington June 05, 2014 at 08:15 AM
The zoning board could have got a jump on this. Its been 25 years since 8-30g has gone into effect. Could have zoned way better. Instead the board has encouraged strip malls everywhere, large scale retail development, and low density housing on formally undeveloped land. I have seen farms and woods vanish in Milford. Milford spent the first 10 years after 8-30g was enacted fighting affordable housing and was slapped by the courts. Since 2007 there has also been a state law encouraging towns to use incentive zoning. Milford has received a grant to study such zoning. Incentive zoning is to encourage high density development near transit hubs or previously developed land. These projects would look no different than the Avalon complex on Woodmont Rd or the Spinnaker buildings downtown. We give up small chunks of Milford to protect the rest. But its not like Milford would protect the rest. Just allow more strip malls. We need more pizza places.
JNG June 05, 2014 at 09:17 AM
Tlk you are dead on. Most of these suburban communities and their reps are reactive instead of being proactive. They spend their time and $$ on stopping affordable housing instead of embracing and integrating it into the communities. Many suburbanites can trace their family roots to apartments over urban retail spaces or apartment buildings. Suburban sprawl cookie cuts parcels and eats up space and relates more runoff. Smart Growth as you described is one answer. Large lots is a bad answer. When you keep cutting gluttonous pieces of pie you get fat and run out of pie.
Gary Tobin June 05, 2014 at 11:34 AM
Good article about "Affordable Housing". Why would our great Governor [very sarcastic] sign the moratorium? http://www.nhregister.com/opinion/20140529/editorial-connecticut-needs-affordable-housing
tlkensington June 05, 2014 at 12:13 PM
Because it's part of a larger budget implementing act. The moratorium is just a tiny part. The act isn't controversial.

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