#OpenWoodbridge Decision Statement

Dear Friend,

We know you’ve been waiting for this update about our #OpenWoodbridge efforts.

Last night, Woodbridge’s Town Plan and Zoning Commission issued a decision on our request that the Town allow small mixed-income multifamily homes as long as they conform to the same requirements applied to single-family homes. Unfortunately — despite Woodbridge’s long-standing failure to do its part to meet the regional need for affordable housing, having never allowed multifamily housing of three units or more anywhere in town and permitting duplexes in only 0.2% of town— the Commission refused to take even the most modest step proposed in our application. The Commission's decision to revise their zoning regulations falls far short of real change and continues the irrational, discriminatory single-family dominance that has been the Town’s defining characteristic for decades. 

Woodbridge’s Town Plan and Zoning Commissioner Robert Klee described the decision as “our own Woodbridge sort of approach.” Given Woodbridge’s long history of exclusion, we agree with that portrayal. 

What a disappointment. What a missed opportunity.

The Commission characterized its decision as an amendment of our proposal.  Let’s be clear: it wasn’t.  It was a rejection.  Our proposal had two pillars: (1) An option for small multifamily housing throughout town; and (2) Requiring only a zoning permit issued by the town without a public hearing or public comment — the same standard that is applied to single-family homes.  The Commission rejected both, with a few minor exceptions. This is consistent with Woodbridge’s long history of exclusion.

The Commission rejected all multifamily housing except in 1.6% of the town. Even in that “tiny sliver of town,” as one Commissioner described it, multifamily property owners will be subject to more onerous restrictions than those that apply to single-family homes. The Commission adopted impervious coverage ratios, for example, that apply only to multifamily housing and not to single-family homes. Multifamily developments will be subjected to discretionary review by the Commission and a public hearing.  As OCA pointed out during the hearing process, the Commission has never — over the course of many decades — approved an affordable housing application that has come before it.  Among many subjective standards, Woodbridge’s special exception regulations necessitate a public hearing with public comments and require consideration of the “harmony and appropriateness of the use” and give the Commission complete discretion as to how to interpret that provision.  Such discretionary review procedures do not apply to single family homes.  These procedures are well known to discourage housing production by creating cost and uncertainty.

Our Request to #OpenWoodbridge

Our submission to the Woodbridge Plan and Zoning Commission requested, as a first step to larger zoning reform, that the town:

  1. Allow small multifamily dwellings with only an administrative zoning permit issued by the town, so long as the dwellings meet the same building (e.g. height, setback, lot coverage) and environmental standards (e.g. wetlands, water & sewer) applied to single-family homes.

  2. Make changes to the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development to conform to state laws regarding affordable and multifamily housing.

We also separately requested that the town rewrite its planning and zoning documents to allow for the development of its “fair share” of affordable housing in town, 542 units over the next ten years. See more about OCA’s Fair Share initiative here.

Now what? Where do we go from here? We are considering our options and as soon as we arrive at a decision, and have a plan, we will be back in touch to tell you how you can help.

But know this: We are not giving up. We are determined to ensure that Connecticut becomes a state in which affordable housing is just that: affordable. And available. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s the smart thing to do.

 

Thank you for your continued support!

Erin Boggs

Executive Director



  • Open Communities Alliance
  • 75 Charter Oak Avenue
  • Suite 1-200
  • Hartford, CT 06106
  • Phone: 860-610-6040