NEW CANAAN — Just over two months since submitting its application to the Connecticut Department of Housing, New Canaan has been awarded its first affordable housing moratorium, protecting the town from a state loophole that gives developers the upper hand when building affordable housing.

The town received word from the DOH on June 6 that their application, filed in April, had been accepted and that, by taking sufficient steps toward the state-mandated minimum 10 percent affordable housing stock, they had earned a four-year respite from the threat of developers, known as the 8-30g statute.

“You really have to go back to 2005 and 2006,” said New Canaan Housing Authority Chairman Scott Hobbs, about the origins of the recently awarded moratorium. “Laszlo Papp, then head of the Planning and Zoning Commission, recognized the threat from 8-30g rules. He put together an Affordable Housing Fund in New Canaan, which takes a percentage of renovation and new building fees and puts it into a trust for affordable housing.”

With money put aside in that fund, Hobbs said the town was able to first convert 14 existing units at Millport Apartments that were run down into 40 new affordable units. The town was then able to purchase a piece of property between Millport and New Canaan Medical Center, on which two houses were razed and 33 affordable units were erected in their place.

“That got us to our first four-year moratorium marker,” Hobbs explained.

And though the moratorium has been achieved, Hobbs and the town are continuing to build affordable units, hopefully working toward a second moratorium.

Currently, a second phase of the Millport project is underway, which will see the conversion of 18 public housing units into 40 new affordable units.

Hobbs stressed that, in order to ensure further protection from 8-30g rules, and because of the considerable time it takes to meet state requirements, it’s important the town keeps increasing its affordable housing base — adding smaller projects so one big one cannot sweep in.

“All of these projects take a very long time,” Hobbs said.; @justinjpapp1