Shelton aldermen resolution opposes elimination of zoning ‘home rule’

Exterior of Shelton City Hall, in Shelton, Conn. Jan. 11, 2021.

Exterior of Shelton City Hall, in Shelton, Conn. Jan. 11, 2021.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — The Board of Aldermen have joined fellow city officials in opposing what board President John Anglace, Jr., calls “nightmare legislation” that would eliminate a municipality’s “home rule” over its own zoning.

The aldermen, at a special meeting March 25, unanimously adopted a resolution in support of “home rule” in municipal zoning decision-making, which the board states empower each community to tailor zoning policies that “reflect its unique geography, economy and housing market.”

Nearly a dozen bills — in the state House and Senate — call for changes to local zoning, some of which would overrule local zoning authorities and mandate the construction of multi-family and affordable housing, regardless of existing local regulations, city officials said.

State Reps. Ben McGorty and Jason Perillo, both Republicans who represent Shelton, are pushing back against these proposals, which they describe as a “money and power grab” by Hartford Democrats.

Backers of the proposed legislation are seeking more diverse housing options throughout Connecticut, and state Sen. Kevin Kelly, a Republican who represents Shelton, among other towns, agreed the issue must be addressed. Kelly says that the unique needs and geography of each community, including cities, suburbs, and rural areas, must be considered in this process.

The aldermen’s resolution states that the board “opposes a state mandated one-size fits all zoning legislation and the ability of any outside housing authority to have jurisdiction on our town’s affordable housing plan.”

The resolution further states that the aldermen oppose any similar legislation that would “further overrule, remove or diminish local control and decision-making related to planning and zoning or affordable housing” for Shelton and all other municipalities in the state.

Alderman Anthony Simonetti asked that the resolution be sent to every state legislator, so “they understand cities like Shelton feel that they are stepping in the wrong direction when they come to tell us how to take care of land situations.”

Anglace said this resolution is important for not only Shelton but all municipalities in the state, who he says should be joined in opposition to any legislation that takes away local input in zoning matters.

“Localized decision-making ensures the greatest level of accountability while allowing affected community members the greatest level of input and the platform through a public hearing to provide specific, relevant information on potential impacts that only they would have knowledge of,” the resolution states.

The proposals include mandating what type of multi-family housing and accessory apartments are built and where and mandating what towns consider when determining whether to approve a housing project.

Perillo, McGorty and Kelly have been joined by Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Virginia Harger in pushing back against the numerous bills in the state legislature regarding zoning.

Anglace said that the city’s zoning department is presently forming an affordable housing plan — as ordered by the state last year. Now, legislators want to toss that out, Anglace said, instead pushing to dictate zoning rules from Hartford.

Zoning Administrator Alex Rossetti said the city does “have a ways to go to meet the state requirements” on affordable housing.

“It’s not right to me,” Anglace said. “More people should be speaking out in opposition to this.”