BOS and P&Z study affordable housing plan

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On January 24, the Granby Board of Selectmen and the Planning and Zoning Commission met to discuss the Affordable Housing Plan objectives. Connecticut state statutes require that each town in the state prepare and adopt an affordable housing plan that specifies how that town intends to increase the number of affordable developments. The plan is to be updated at least once every five years.

The key word is “plan.” Some residents argue that there is no mandate to increase affordable housing and no penalties if none occurs, as noted by a resident who spoke in the public session of the meeting. Therefore, some residents feel it is not necessary to meet the state requirement to develop a plan. The board’s opinion, feeling of the board, as stated by First Selectman Mark Fiorentino, is that “exploring ways to increase affordable housing is something that should be done because it is the right thing to do —mandate or not.”

The objectives of the affordable housing plan Granby adopted in June 2022, have been assigned to the Town Planner Staff, the Board of Selectmen or P&Z. The town planner staff is assigned to study reducing restrictions for accessory apartments, including considering financial incentives such as a tax reduction. The target delivery date for this study is December 2023. The town staff is also asked to set up meetings with the Salmon Brook Water District, Aquarion  Water and Connecticut Natural Gas to report on potential projects in town,.

P&Z is asked to consider a change to zoning regulations to require that a certain percentage of units constructed in a multi-family development be deed-restricted affordable, report due in June 2023. The Commission is also asked to consider allowing reduction of the minimum lot size now required in order to reduce the overall cost of home ownership, thus encouraging single-family affordable housing, targeted for 2025. Related to that, the Commission is asked to consider a density bonus within the Flexible Residential Developments for the construction of affordable housing, targeted for February of 2024. (The Board of Selectmen is asked to explore the establishment of a housing trust fund, targeted for September 2023.)

Several other assignments for the P&Z are on hold until 2024 pending the results of the sewer flow study and the Center Study and the meetings with the utilities. These assignments include allowing multi-family housing to be “allowed by right” instead of special permit; expanding the zones where density bonuses are allowed for elderly and affordable housing; increasing density allowance depending on the suitability of the site and access to public infrastructure; and reducing the minimum lot size for multi-family development where the minimum lot size for multi-family exceeds the minimum lot size in the underlying zone.

One further assignment for P&Z is to promote sidewalk connections and additional bike paths. This ongoing project is dependent on the grant application deadlines, so no target date has been named.

The Board of Selectmen is assigned to report on existing CT Transit routes and ridership and propose changes as may be needed to better serve Granby residents, targeted for April 2023. By June of 2023, the BOS is expected to prepare a spreadsheet showing all town-owned land including acreage and zoning. By September 2023, the BOS should have completed a sewer flow study to determine whether additional capacity is achievable and sustainable. Based on the results of that study, the BOS will determine whether the sewer service area map should be modified to allow for expansion north and south of Floydville Road to the East Granby town line and eliminate the areas north of Crest Road along North Granby Road. That assessment is targeted for January 2024.

Finally, the BOS is asked to explore partnerships with affordable housing developers and nonprofit entities to facilitate residential development on town-owned land where appropriate. This is dependent on the completion of the town-owned land study and is targeted for 2024.

Fiorentino thanked the board and commission for their time and dedication to this process, as it is above and beyond the members’ normal duties. “These are issues for future generations,” Fiorentino noted. “It would be easier for us to just go from one year to the next and not worry about the future.” The process involves listening to residents. “We may not always agree, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t listening,” he continued, adding that the original proposal has been changed in significant areas in response to residents’ concerns.