Facing pressure to allow more than just expensive single-family homes to be built in Woodbridge, local zoning officials voted Monday to allow multi-family housing to be built on a sliver of land — provided such projects are first vetted through public hearing and subject to approval from the local Planning and Zoning Commission.
The decision comes more than eight months after a coalition of civil rights attorneys and a developer teamed up to challenge this suburban town’s zoning practices that left it with virtually no affordable housing – and segregated. The share of Black or Latino residents living in this suburb that borders New Haven is one-third the share living throughout the state.
Nearly everywhere in Woodbridge requires 1.5 acres to build a single family home, and only 35 housing units in town are reserved for low-income residents, nearly all of which are solely for elderly residents. Until Monday, Woodbridge essentially prohibited multi-family housing everywhere in its borders.
The 6-person zoning panel, however, only opened the door for multi-family development on 230 acres in the 12,038-acre town, or 2% of the land — and only after public hearings and local officials approve the project. The town will also begin allowing duplexes to be built in these same areas that have access to water and sewer without requiring a public hearing or landing special permission. The two-unit residences can also be opened in a larger area of town but would still need to land approval from the planning commissioners.
“To me, this is a Woodbridge approach,” said Robert Klee, the chairman of Woodbridge Planning and Zoning Commission.
“Given Woodbridge’s long history of exclusion, we agree with that characterization,” the coalition of civil rights attorneys said in a statement shortly after the panel’s decision.
Woodbridge zoning officials take a small step toward affordable housing, Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, CT Mirror, June 8, 2021, available here