Affordable housing proposal at Jelliff Mill limits town's options
Updated 10:49 am, Thursday, February 9, 2012
While several residents are upset about a potential 16-unit townhouse complex on Jelliff Mill Road near the Noroton River, their complaints may amount to nothing since the developers are set on including units restricted to buyers with a "middle income."
Town Attorney Chris Jarboe said the plan may only be denied by New Canaan if it has serious health and safety risks. At a recent Inland Wetlands Commission meeting, Tim Hollister, a lawyer representing the developers, asked for an amendment to the zoning regulations in order to allow the affordable housing at Jelliff Mill.
As a result of the potential for affordable housing, the zoning is governed by the state under the Affordable Housing and Land Use Act. Towns in Connecticut with at least 10 percent of their housing options designated as "affordable" are exempt from the state law, while those with at least 2.5 percent qualify for a four-year exemption.
The mill was built in 1949 after the old mill from the 1700s burned down. The new complex would be mostly two-bedroom units, with a few one-bedroom units. Hollister and the owners are open to working with the New Canaan Historical Society to preserve what they can.
At a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Jan. 24, the crowd filled the town hall auditorium to the brim prompting Chairman Lazlo Papp to postpone public comment to another special hearing specific to the Jelliff Mill development.
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He advised all residents to come up with specific input and concerns they have and to appoint one speaker for groups if they have similar sentiments in order to save time. The public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.
Most of the residents' concerns deal mostly with traffic and sewer issues.
"Jelliff Mill Road (especially near Route 106) is heavily trafficked and there are no shoulders or sidewalks. This property is not on town sewer and their proposed septic system faces many challenges," resident Lisa Smith said.
She compared this situation to one in Ridgefield recently.
"If the development is found to pose any health and/or safety issues that would adversely affect New Canaan residents, it has an obligation to deny or at a minimum, as in the case of our neighbors in Ridgefield, extensively modify the proposal," Smith explained. "Just this past November, Ridgefield Planning & Zoning reduced an affordable housing application's density by 25 percent and imposed numerous conditions."
Residents can attend the special hearing with the Planning and Zoning Commission Feb. 21 and another meeting with the Inland Wetlands Commission Feb. 27.