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June 5, 2023

Vessel Technologies challenging denials of affordable housing developments

Contributed Vessel Technologies plans to appeal recent decisions to deny apartment development plans, including this four-story building in Simsbury.

Vessel Technologies, a New York-based development company, is appealing recent decisions by Connecticut land use boards denying apartment plans that include affordable units.

The development company filed a complaint and appeal in Hartford Superior Court over the Glastonbury Plan and Zoning Commission’s denial of plans to build 48 apartments on a vacant lot at 51 Kreiger Lane.

Additionally, Vessel officials said they plan to file a similar appeal, under the state statute 8-30g, over Simsbury’s recent decision to deny apartment development plans.

Both developments contain a percentage of affordable units, which is a condition for receiving certain zoning exemptions through the state’s affordable housing law. 

Glastonbury officials said the Krieger Lane parcel is in a planned commerce zone, and therefore doesn’t qualify for the affordable housing exemptions because it’s an industrial area.

The Simsbury plan was denied based on a “substantial threat to public health, safety, and welfare,” that outweighs the need for affordable housing, according to town zoning officials. 

The concerns include inadequate and unsafe parking conditions; traffic and property access concerns at an unsignalized access point; inappropriate density, with 64 units on 1.9 acres; a lack of open space or community amenities; and concerns over access of fire first responders.

Neil Rubler, founder and CEO of Vessel, said his team “only pursues sites that have received the support and endorsement of all local planning and safety experts. We also work hard with planning and zoning commissions to address any public concerns.”

“Every town official signed off and approved our project in Simsbury, including the wetlands commission. Only when a vocal group of condominium owners showed up did the Planning & Zoning Commission reverse course,” Rubler said.

He said the decision to deny was unlawful under the specific regulations, and that he is exercising his legal right under 8-30g to appeal. 

The 8-30g law, enacted in 1989, sets a goal for each municipality to have 10% of housing stock qualify as affordable. Many towns have written into their Plans of Conservation and Development the pathway toward that goal, which developers use as support for affordable housing projects.

Vessel has similar apartment projects underway in New London and Cheshire.

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