Weston commission seeks clarity in affordable housing plan

Weston Town Hall at 56 Norfield Road in Weston.

Weston Town Hall at 56 Norfield Road in Weston.

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WESTON — The Planning and Zoning Commission delayed kicking-off a study on affordable housing in town in hopes to better clarify what they’ll actually get out of the plan.

Milone & Macbroom, Inc. was hired to help develop an affordable housing plan for the town. This came from a $15,000 grant the town was awarded from the Connecticut Department of Housing to create this plan. The Board of Selectmen also approved $5,000 for the effort.

“They’ve put forward a proposal which has a number of aspects including community outreach,” Planning and Zoning Chair Kenneth Edgar said at a meeting this week.

The proposal states the affordable housing plan document will include an assessment, strategies, community engagement tasks, as well as supporting data and maps.

But some commissioners were worried this wasn’t specific enough.

Commissioner Harry Falber said he would be comfortable if the proposal outlined hard-set deliverables.

“That was my primary concern...what the actual outcome and marching orders will be for the town of Weston to do,” Falber said. “That’s my primary concern there.”

Commissioner Richard Wolf echoed similar sentiments and said he would like to know just how specific the study would be.

“I think we have to define the deliverables in my mind,” he said.

Edgar said accessory dwelling units, mixed-use, multi-family, senior housing should all be considered in the study. He added the commission would take on the responsibility to make sure all approaches are reviewed.

“As far as I’m concerned what they’re going to do will encompass all of these,” he said. “I think to say affordable housing doesn’t necessarily limit what kind of housing you’re talking about.”

The study is estimated to take three to four months to complete. It will include a review and analysis of current demographic, housing and marketing data to identify trends, needs and impediments to affordable housing. There will also be opportunities for public input.

Falber said the state legislature was poised to discuss bills on affordable housing that touched on accessory apartments for seniors and low-income residents. He questioned if proceeding with the plan was putting the cart before the house without knowledge of the state’s future.

“To me that aspect of it is critical,” he said, adding he doesn’t believe it needs to necessarily be delayed.

Falber said instead the study should be more forward-looking and investigative than focusing on what was done in the past.

Edgar said it wouldn’t focus solely on the past, but Milone & Macbroom has to understand how the town got to where it is today.

“They’ll be looking forward because they’re going to help us draft these regulations which are going to govern this town, hopefully, for the foreseeable future,” he said.

The Zoning Commission plans to schedule a special meeting next week to discuss the topic further.

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com