Connecticut’s media is full of stories about exclusionary planning commissions denying or delaying housing developments. But while these stories often quote people opposed to a project, they rarely discuss the consequences for our fellow residents. We need to focus on the human cost of all that denied housing and realize that each home that’s never built is a loss for the state and the families that would have made lives here.
2023 has not been a banner year for housing abundance in Connecticut. During the long legislative session, the two major housing proposals— Fair Share and Work Live Ride— did not pass (though the General Assembly did approve some parts).
Towns, meanwhile, seem more determined than ever to show what a sham “local control” really is. In Bethel, the Planning and Zoning Commission denied an application because it felt that “fugitive dust” from a nearby property posed too great a health concern to future residents (though this concern only came up after it became an 8-30g application). New Canaan, meanwhile, bucked the growing push for single staircase reform and rejected a project because it didn’t have a third staircase. And in Enfield, the town council prioritized storage for cars instead of housing for people, whittling a plan for 123 homes and 56 parking spaces to only 70 homes and 76 parking spaces.
All of these decisions help contribute to Connecticut’s housing shortage. Only 6,496 homes were permitted last year, approximately 1/4 the pace of the 1980s (when Connecticut’s population was 14% smaller). What’s more, by one estimate towns blocked at least 1,900 homes in 2022 and are up to 1,755 this year—nevermind the homes that aren’t proposed at all because of restrictive zoning and recalcitrant planning boards.
There’s a Human Cost to All This Denied Housing, Thomas Broderick, CT Examiner, July 18, 2023, available here