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Affordable Housing Forum Answers Ridgefield's Questions

Dave Goldenberg, a member of the Ridgefield Affordable Housing Authority, gave a presentation about what affordable housing is and how it affects Ridgefield at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters.
Dave Goldenberg, a member of the Ridgefield Affordable Housing Authority, gave a presentation about what affordable housing is and how it affects Ridgefield at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – The phrase affordable housing shouldn’t be scary for Ridgefield residents, but several recent projects have raised concerns around town.

The Ridgefield League of Women Voters held a forum Monday night in hopes of making affordable housing and the 8-30G legislation less confusing to residents. Betty Brosius, director of planning for Ridgefield; Dave Goldenberg, a member of the Affordable Housing Committee; and Steve Zemo, a developer and Ridgefield resident, served on the panel.

A main concern that all three speakers addressed was the 8-30G legislation and how that affects Ridgefield. A total of 13 approved 8-30G projects have either been built, are under construction or are still in development in town, Brosius said.

What 8-30G did, Brosius said, was ensure that at least 10 percent of the town’s nearly 9,420 housing units were affordable to those earning the state average income of $89,200 or below. It allows developers to build units practically anywhere, so long as 30 percent of those units are affordable. Currently, the town has 245 units built, about 2 percent of the total number.

“The only reason Planning and Zoning Commission can deny an affordable housing application is if there is a threat to the public health, safety and welfare,” Brosius said. So far, only one application has been denied.

But the town can apply for a moratorium, or a stop to 8-30G applications in town, which has been in the works for more than a year, Brosius says.

Many of the projects have been noncontroversial, she said. But those that don’t fit in with the neighborhoods and the town see the most push back, Brosius said, and several people in the audience agreed.

For Goldenberg, the affordable housing issue is less about the law, as it is about the people who apply for the housing. “There is need there, and we need to build housing that addresses that,” he said. Otherwise, young professionals, municipal workers and skilled and unskilled workers cannot live in towns such as Ridgefield, he said.

Business owners have told Goldenberg that they “can’t afford to hire people who can afford live around here.”

Zemo took on the topic more as a resident than a developer. “I think the legislation, the statute is very flawed,” he said. “If we’re going to set aside these units, let’s make it in perpetuity.”

Affordable housing units under 8-30G are deed restricted for 30 years.

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