A Change Of Heart At FFH With No Public Debate

To the Editor:

The Fairfield Hills Master Plan Review commission was very explicit that the Master Plan does not allow apartments. They did their research and determined that support was not there for apartments. A member of the review group who presented the new plan to P&Z  wrote this to me at the time. “The biggest compromise, from my perspective, was the focus on supporting conversation about mixed use development. That said, the amendment specifically says that housing is NOT to be added as a preferred use. It also stresses that development proposals should be as public as possible – i.e., that the public must be notified and listened to. (From my perspective, conversation is healthy. Squelching any and all conversations runs counter to my view of what a democracy should be.)

Last night, the P&Z listened very carefully and understood that housing is not a preferred use. Should a proposal be accepted through the development process (which the P&Z is typically involved with at the very beginning and is responsible for at the very end), then the proposal would be allowed only with the inclusion of a “special exception” provided by the P&Z.

So you can understand my surprise and disillusionment when I read the minutes from the Economic Development Commission asking for a zoning change to allow rentals. Please read the exact words from the May 13th meeting. .

“Reports / Discussion / Action:

“Chairwoman, EDC

“• Fairfield Hills zone change - A meeting took place with the Chair of P&Z, Chair of FHA, Chair of EDC and staff regarding an addition of a permitted use to the FHAR zone. This change would allow the inclusion of residential dwellings above commercial properties. Joe Humeston supported the idea of the zone addition and believed it is important to the campus to attract young professionals to spark economic growth. Discussion took place as to the benefits of having residential above the commercial units, unit sizes, tax implications of residential vs. commercial property and the proposed zone addition was altered to reflect the discussion outcome.

“Joe Humeston motioned to endorse and move forward a zone addition 6.03.300 (28) to the FHA for review ‘Residential dwellings within a commercial building and above any permitted commercial use. The individual dwellings shall be a minimum of eight hundred (800) square feet.’ Paul Fadus seconded the motion and it passed with four votes. Al Roznicki abstained from the vote.”

Sounds like it’s a done deal with no public debate at all.

Bruce Walczak

12 Glover Avenue, Newtown                     May 14, 2014

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