The contrast between New Haven and its suburban neighbor Woodbridge is impossible to miss.
In the city, duplexes and triplexes are packed side by side, with cars and motorcycles zipping through busy streets. Just over the line in Woodbridge, the urban density gives way to a colonnade of trees. Single-family homes, separated by wide lawns and stone walls, sit far back from the road.
The differences run far deeper than what is visible. In New Haven, a city of 130,000, the median household income is $42,222; in Woodbridge, a town of 8,750, it’s $157,610, nearly four times larger. New Haven residents are less than half white, 5% Asian, about a third Latinx and a third Black, while those in Woodbridge are more than three-quarters white, about 15% Asian and less than 10% Black and Latinx.
In a bid to upend this socioeconomic and racial divide — which exists between cities and suburbs across Connecticut — a team of civil rights attorneys and Yale Law School students has spent the last eight months presenting their case to the Woodbridge plan and zoning commission that the sharp differences between the city and its quiet suburb are not only pernicious, but also unlawful.
At issue is a modest white house at 2 Orchard Road in Woodbridge, where the grass is starting to grow long. The legal team has submitted an application to the zoning commission to turn this 1.5 acre plot of land, zoned for a single-family home, into a four-unit development, with half of the apartments reserved for tenants receiving rental assistance.
But the implications run far deeper than a small lot in Woodbridge.
A fight over building apartments in mainly white Woodbridge has become a flashpoint in the debate over racial equity in Connecticut. Here’s why., Eliza Fawcett, Hartford Courant, April 30th, 2021, available here