Date: Fri 04-Oct-1996
Couple Sues Over Habitat Housing Plan
B Y A NDREW G OROSKO
A Sandy Hook couple that lives next to the Philo Curtis Road site planned for
the construction of two affordable houses has sued the Planning and Zoning
Commission (P&Z) and the developer over the town's approval of the project.
In documents filed in Danbury Superior Court, John and Carina Stefanko of 71
Philo Curtis Road sue the P&Z and Housatonic Habitat for Humanity (HHH) over
the P&Z's September 5 decision to permit HHH to build two owner-occupied
affordable single-family houses for low- and moderate-income families next to
the Stefanko residence.
The town owns the 3.5-acre parcel upon which the P&Z gave HHH permission to
create a two-lot residential subdivision. The town has planned to give HHH the
land for the affordable housing project.
In the suit, the Stefankos state they are aggrieved by the decision to allow
the subdivision because they own land next to the site and will suffer the
direct adverse effects of traffic and hazardous waste from that site.
The Stefankos claim that in approving the subdivision, the P&Z acted
illegally, arbitrarily and abuse of the discretion vested in it because: the
P&Z improperly created rear house lots in violation of the town zoning
regulations; excavation and filling planned for the subdivision will uncover
or disturb hazardous waste or petroleum products buried on the site by the
town in the past; the contaminants are likely to harm the Stefankos and others
in violation of the town's zoning and subdivision regulations; and traffic
from the site will interfere with the Stefanko's driveway easement granted by
The HHH subdivision was one of the last such subdivisions to be considered
involving one-acre, rear lot zoning. The P&Z repealed one-acre rear-lot zoning
August 12. The commission accepted HHH's development proposal for review on
August 1, thus allowing the application to be considered as a rear-lot
The affordable housing proposal encountered various delays before reaching the
P&Z for review. The delays involved deed restrictions on the land proposed for
At past public meetings on the HHH proposal, John Stefanko has said he fears
that if low-income housing is built nearby, his property's value would
decrease. "I don't want anything taken from me that I've worked so hard to
achieve," he said recently.
Mr Stefanko has said he doesn't object to one house being built next to him,
but two houses are one house too many, crowding the area.
Other people at public meetings, however, have stressed the need for local
affordable housing. Nancy Gossling of Country Squire Road has said the
development proposal provides an opportunity to build two affordable houses,
an opportunity which should be seized because it's unclear when another such
opportunity might arise again.
HHH is an independent, non-profit affiliate of the international Christian
housing ministry based in Americus, Georgia. Volunteers and low-income
families work together using tax-deductible donations of money and materials
to build new homes.
The Stefankos are represented by Danbury Attorney Ward Mazzucco in the lawsuit
against the P&Z and HHH. The town and HHH are scheduled to appear in court
November 12 to answer the claims made in the suit.