Two important meetings are planned concerning the future of affordable housing in Chester.
First, on Thursday, Sept. 7, Chester residents will come together at the Meeting House (4 Liberty St., Chester; 7 p.m.) to learn about an alternative mixed-use/affordable housing concept being presented by a team of local residents, designers, and an architect as an alternative to the 40-unit plan already proposed for the St. Joseph Parish property on Middlesex Avenue.
One week later, on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m., residents are invited to attend a public hearing held by the Chester Planning and Zoning Commission. This P&Z hearing will be at Chester Elementary School.
All of Connecticut’s small towns are grappling with how best to provide safe, affordable housing that is an asset to the town, and Chester is no exception. Under State Statute 8-30g, real estate developers may override local zoning regulations in towns where less than 10 percent of the housing stock is deed-restricted and deemed affordable (based on the median income of the surrounding area). Under 8-30g, a town’s P&Z can defend an appeal against the project on the grounds it runs counter to the “substantial public interests” of health and safety. Often, such a challenge leads to costly litigation.
I urge all Chester residents to attend both of these important, fact-finding meetings. It is up to all of us to ensure the town attains the very important goal of diversified, affordable housing that adds to the town’s viability, sustainability, and prosperity.