Shelton residents oppose affordable housing proposal, as reps. challenge statute that allows it

Jason Perillo

Jason Perillo

Contributed photo

SHELTON — Pine Rock residents are receiving an education in the state’s 8-30g affordable housing statute, thanks to a recent application for a 40-unit apartment building on Mohawk Drive. 

Some two dozen residents voiced opposition to the apartment plan — which says 30 percent of the units are classified as affordable, meeting the statute's requirement. 

While these residents are fighting what they feel is a development too large for the tight site in an already congested area, state Rep. Jason Perillo has joined other Republican legislators in a move to reform the statute that would allow it. 

Perillo, said at the recent Planning and Zoning Commission hearing that legislators attempt each year to amend the statute, not because of a desire to stifle creation of affordable housing but because developers abuse the law. 

“Efforts to change the statutes have failed because powerful special interest groups love them,” Perillo said. “The statutes have been used and abused by developers to force the approval of large apartment complexes in residential areas."

State statute 8-30g allows for certain developments to bypass virtually all zoning regulations if the town doesn’t have at least 10 percent of its housing stock considered affordable housing by the state. 

“These projects would never be approved by any right-minded zoning commission,” Perillo added, “but the statutes force their hand. The developers know exactly what they’re doing when they screw neighbors over and they don’t particularly care.” 

Earlier this year, Perillo joined nine other legislators to introduce proposed Bill No. 5326, titled “An Act Concerning the Affordable Housing Appeals Process and Removing the Municipal Opt-Out Deadline for Accessory Apartments.” 

Perillo said the bill’s key reform is counting all “naturally occurring” affordable housing in a municipality’s calculation of its affordable housing under 8-30g. According to the state, Shelton has 494 affordable housing residential units, broken down into four categories, There are 82 deed-restricted units; 40 units with rental assistance, 118 with CHFA/USDA mortgages and 254 units that are government assisted. 

“A town should be able to get credit for all affordable housing, no matter what form, and also be empowered to promote whatever form of affordable housing it likes — rather than just have one kind imposed on it,” Perillo said. 

Another positive, specifically for Shelton, is the amended statute would allow for counting mobile home parks in the calculation. Shelton has three mobile home parks with a total of 277 mobile home units — 150 at Woodland Park, 89 at Fairchild Heights and 38 at Sunnyside Mobile Home Park.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Virginia Harger said this bill, if approved, would benefit Shelton.  

“If this bill was to pass, housing units with relatively low rental rates — compared to the regional housing market rates — could be included in our affordable housing count,” Harger said. 

The bigger elephant in the room is House Bill 6633, Harger added. 

“This bill is endorsed by the majority party and would force a municipality to meet a certain number of ‘fair share’ affordable units,” Harger said. “Members of the group who would determine Shelton’s ‘fair share’ would be appointed by the state and chances are they would not be residents of Shelton.” 

The current 8-30g proposal before the commission in Shelton is 2 Mohawk Drive, where property owners Agim Ismali and Shprza Ismali are seeking approval for a Planned Development District (PDD) to develop a four-story, 12,000-square-foot structure with 40 apartments, an outdoor parking lot and indoor parking under the building.  

According to the application, the developers would designate 30 percent of the apartments, 12 units total, as affordable under state statute 8-30g.   

The plans call for only one- and two-bedroom apartments on the site, which is located at the corner of Mohawk Drive and River Road. The property is bounded by Mohawk Drive to the east, a developed, residential area to the west, commercial development to the south, and Algonkin Road to the north. The land sits behind Casa Nova Ristorante, located on River Road.