I am a member of the Fairfield Town Plan & Zoning Commission and a long-time neighborhood and land advocate. I object to HB 5429, which is supported by development lobbyists and not built with input from all stakeholders. As a member of the TPZ, we make decisions based on our knowledge of our community, infrastructure, environment, historic preservation, traffic and more, and this bill reduces the important role of a planning and zoning commission.

In Fairfield, we have three stations — one in our downtown neighborhood; another located in a more commercial area of ​​town and a smaller one in the Southport area, which is located in a very historic part of our community. In our city, the development of TOD has been underway for a long time and remains a critical point in our planning. We don’t need a mandate to encourage this type of dense housing. In recent years, the city has approved four TOD projects near stations – three of these projects are built and occupied and a fourth approved project is nearing construction. We do the work under the responsibility of our commission and according to our infrastructure.

We must also realize that the earth is one of the most limited resources and once we change it and recover it, there is no going back.

Faults of HB 5429

  • Reduces the role of local planning and zoning commissions: The “as of right” wording of the bill means planning and zoning bodies will be watered down and elected and appointed officials knowledgeable about the needs and restrictions of cities, infrastructure, historic preservation and environmental concerns will be stifled. , and the public voice will be silenced.
  • Create density, not affordable housing: The bill does not require any affordable housing on projects with less than six units, so you can expect the existing truly affordable “intermediate units” to be replaced by luxury townhouses, further compressing disadvantaged housing. With climate change impacting coastal communities like Fairfield, areas near train stations are likely to experience issues such as flooding.
  • Bill omits details: HB 5429 does not offer specifics to Connecticut residents and is vague. Given its vagueness, however, our TPZ director calculated that the TOD bill would require a 25-30% increase in housing in Fairfield and a 14-17% increase in our city’s population. Our city’s historic neighborhoods are near two of our three train stations and would therefore be encompassed by the new development density mandates. The older infrastructure in these areas is likely inadequate for the massive influx of density, so presumably the city would have to fund massive public projects to support the new development. Why would we burden our cities with more expensive mandates?
  • Competing Affordable Housing Laws: The TOD bill would compete with the 8-30g CGS and make the already virtually impossible 10% ratio even more impossible. This would divert affordable housing, reduce existing mid-range housing and cause luxury housing to replace duplexes in city centers. Other consequences include more litigation, partly due to vague definitions in the bill regarding exempt land and calculation, but also due to the continued failure to reform the deeply flawed 8-30g. The bill would dramatically increase the housing stock while only requiring up to 10% to be affordable – the mandatory additional density without affordability ultimately makes the 8-30g target even more elusive.

Fairfield continues to be committed to creating a diverse housing stock – we take great pride in our work and look forward to the work ahead of us. Ultimately, no one knows the needs and uniqueness of a community quite like those who live here, work and volunteer here.