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December 29, 2022

Moratoria on single-family and multifamily housing proposed in Farmington

RENDERING | CONTRIBUTED The outdoor pool at UpHouse, a 225-unit apartment redevelopment at the former Hartford Marriott Farmington hotel, will feature a lounge area and cabanas.

Farmington is proposing a housing moratorium amid a flurry of recent development activity, and at a time when the state is grappling with how to incentivize affordable housing.

On Jan. 9, the Panning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on the two separate moratoria, which would block any proposals for single-family and multifamily housing for one year.

The moratoria, proposed by the commission itself, would apply to residential housing in any zone except the Affordable Housing Zone, the Housing Opportunity Zone and the South Road Opportunity Zone. Plans for housing that were approved before the effective date of the moratorium will not be affected. 

Also, the moratoria would not prohibit an accessory apartment from being created in an existing single-family home.

The commission said it is proposing the moratoria in light of “recent legislation regarding multi-family housing and accessory apartments, as well as the commission’s concern with recent development proposals that do not meet the town’s affordable housing goals.”

The commission believes the moratoria will give it time to “fairly assess and revise its zoning regulations with respect to housing which meets the objectives of the Town’s Affordable Housing Plan and Plan of Conservation and Development.”

Advocates of zoning reform say that Connecticut needs to do more to cap rents in suburban towns, to help middle- and low-income residents afford the cost of living. But residents of some towns fear that state mandates could cause them to lose control over local zoning decisions.

In 2021, Farmington’s Planning and Zoning Commission adopted an affordable housing plan that says the town had 875 units, or 7.9% of its total housing units, that were designated as “Protected Affordable Units,” as of 2019.

Affordable housing typically costs no more than 30% of a household’s income.

In Farmington, a family of four making less than $78,500 per year, or an individual making less than $54,950 per year, is considered low-income and could qualify for affordable housing, according to the 2021 document.

Statewide, Connecticut’s affordable housing law, known as 8-30g, rose to prominence after gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski called for repeal of the housing law. The law, passed in 1979, offers court remedies to developers who are denied zoning permits for affordable housing if less than 10% of the town’s housing stock is affordable.

Other towns have proposed similar legislation.

In March, the Planning and Zoning Commission in South Windsor approved a one-year housing moratorium that halts all applications for single-family and multifamily housing.

A state law passed in 2017 requires municipalities to submit affordable housing plans to the Office of Policy and Management every five years. As of the June 1, 2022 deadline, only 46% of towns had submitted plans, the Connecticut Mirror reported.

The Fairfield County town of New Canaan has sued the state Department of Housing over its recent denial of an application for relief from the affordable housing law.

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