Town plan and zoning commissioners in Woodbridge approved a series of proposals Monday evening that will enable the creation of accessory dwelling units and expand certain types of multifamily housing in their small, wealthy suburb of New Haven.
The approved proposals, which commission chairman Robert Klee called a “significant step forward for our town,” will diversify the town’s housing stock — which is currently dominated by single-family homes — and make the development of some multi-unit housing more possible. Still, the commission’s decision reflects a significant paring-down of a bid by the Open Communities Alliance, a Hartford-based civil rights organization, and students from a Yale Law School housing clinic to implement far-reaching zoning reforms in Woodbridge, a town of 8,750.
“I do not think that we should deny the application in its entirety. I also do not think we should approve the application in its entirety ... I’m in favor of approving the application with reasonable modifications,” Klee said Monday.
The original proposal, submitted by the Open Communities and Yale Law School team, aimed to rezone every residential area in town to permit multifamily zoning and stirred up considerable controversy. Some residents voiced support for efforts to expand affordable housing and address the region’s legacy of housing segregation. Others raised concerns that the proposal would lead to an influx of developments that would overwhelm local infrastructure and disrupt the Woodbridge’s bucolic atmosphere.
In a special meeting last month, Klee developed an amended version of the proposal consisting of three changes to the town’s zoning ordinances. One proposal would permit accessory dwelling units in town, a second would allow two-family houses, some with affordable units, in all residential zones, and a third would enable multifamily housing in limited areas with preexisting sewer infrastructure. Klee added a fourth modification Monday evening: approving changes to the town’s plan of conservation and development to “promote housing diversity and affordability.”
Zoning commissioners in Woodbridge approve housing reforms. Civil rights group had sought far-reaching changes in zoning rules., Eliza Fawcett, Hartford Courant, June 8, 2021, available here