In a December 17 opinion piece titled Zoning reform must consider the character of each town, Alexis Harrison of Fairfield argued against HB 5132, a bill that would reform zoning laws in the state. This was not her first opinion piece in the Mirror objecting to zoning reform and housing development. On September 4 she wrote against proposed developments in Fairfield, blaming state law 8-30g and warning about dire consequences if HB 5132 passed in the future. In these articles she argued that zoning reform in Connecticut must be stymied in order to:
- conserve local wetlands and the environment, and
- defeat density and prevent “large, monstrous developments”
- preserve “neighborhood character”
- maintain local control over land
As Katherine Levine Einstein laid out in her book Neighborhood Defenders: Participatory Politics and America’s Housing Crisis, these are common arguments against building more homes, but they should not stop us. We need a larger, diverse offering of market-rate and affordable homes in every community Connecticut, preferably in walkable, transit-friendly places.
Before objecting to her arguments, let me say that I respect Harrison’s civic engagement and desire to preserve her town. As a history teacher and avid hiker, I also love Connecticut’s historic buildings and hiking destinations. However, housing advocates are not proposing to bulldoze Fairfield’s old town green, nor are they suggesting replacing Sleeping Giant with a series of condominiums. Instead, they are proposing incremental growth in all of our towns and cities. If we build more housing in all communities –and not just “affordable housing”– will help grow our economy, expand home ownership opportunities, and reduce racial and socioeconomic segregation.
Rebuttal: Build housing to create more a dynamic and just economic future for Connecticut, Thomas Broderick, CT Mirror, Dec. 24th, 2020, available here