The power of towns to zone, delegated to them by the State of Connecticut, is of utmost importance to the future of affordable housing and efforts to ensure that desegregated housing options are available throughout the state. This much became clear in Open Communities Alliance’s 2021 Report, Zoning for Equity: Identifying Planning and Zoning Barriers to Affordable Housing. That report took a holistic approach to analyzing twelve racially and economically segregated Connecticut suburbs and attempted to answer the following question: do planning and zoning policies encourage or impede the development of multifamily and affordable housing?
To answer this question, for all 12 towns, each planning document and every zoning regulation was analyzed to understand, zone-by-zone, how feasible it is to develop housing that could have a desegregating impact through generating greater housing affordability. The answer for all towns assessed was unequivocal: there are massive barriers imposed by planning and zoning that discourage and impede multifamily and affordable housing.
The breadth and complexity of the barriers identified provided the impetus for this next volume of Zoning for Equity, which builds off of the first report and analyzes twelve additional racially and economically segregated towns in Connecticut from a different perspective than the first volume. This report digs more deeply into several themes and policy impediments to the development of affordable housing that were identified in many, if not all, of the Volume I towns. This focused format is intended to allow for a deeper understanding of the major themes and policies that it drills down on and hopefully will inform policy changes at the local and state level. It seeks to explore the variety and consistency of these policies through examples in the twelve Volume II towns – namely, East Lyme, Farmington, Guilford, Monroe, New Canaan, North Branford, Old Saybrook, Shelton, Simsbury, Stonington, Wallingford, and Weston. Note, too, that the following examples are meant to illuminate the themes discussed and do not represent an exhaustive list of the ways that each town may exhibit the recurring impediments to housing diversity that are addressed in this report.