Westport Legislative Delegation Announces Affordable Housing & 8-30g Legislative Public Hearing

February 3, 2015

HARTFORD – The Westport legislative delegation, which includes state Senators Tony Hwang (R-28) and Toni Boucher (R-26) and state Reps. Jonathan Steinberg (D-136) and Gail Lavielle (R-143), are pleased to announce that the General Assembly’s Housing Committee has agreed to hold a public hearing in New Haven on the state’s affordable housing statute (8-30g).

More than 30 proposed bills related to 8-30g have been submitted this year from lawmakers across the state to the Housing Committee. Those proposals will be heard at the public hearing on Thursday, Feb. 5, with testimonial sign ups at 5 p.m. at the Board of Alders Chambers in New Haven, located on the second floor, at 165 Church St.

While the 1990 law has positive intentions, 8-30g has been used by developers to bypass local zoning laws and, in the process, created serious concerns for neighborhoods in Westport and other cities and towns throughout Connecticut.

“For too long this statute has been used as a weapon that is destroying the character of our neighborhoods and undermining local zoning regulations,” said Senator Hwang, who is the ranking Senate Republican member on the Housing Committee. “I encourage all interested parties to attend the hearing and have your voice heard.”

Senator Boucher noted, “Connecticut is a small, densely populated state with some of the most breathtakingly beautiful natural landscapes in the country. The colonial character of its cities and towns attracts resident and tourists alike and provides a quality of life that remains one of Connecticut’s main competitive advantages.

“Unfortunately,” she added, “the power under 8-30g to force large, overly dense developments in inappropriate locations has impacted many communities negatively. It is now time to come to a bipartisan agreement to provide for more local oversight as to the number, placement, type and size of 8-30g developments.”

Senator Hwang said, “If we are to enact meaningful and necessary changes to this important state statute we must incorporate all voices and perspectives into the conversation, to arrive at a solution that provides municipalities much-needed control and flexibility while also achieving the goal of increasing our stock of affordable housing.”

“This hearing is an excellent opportunity for residents of towns and cities alike to make their voices heard about this important subject,” said Rep. Lavielle. “As it stands, 8-30g not only poses serious risks to the character of our state’s towns, but also is not as conducive as it might be to the expedient construction of affordable housing. If everyone works together to improve the statute, we can find a solution that will both allow towns to protect the integrity of their zoning regulations and lead to an increase in affordable housing stock.”

Rep. Steinberg said, “We’re eager to have a serious conversation about how we can encourage affordable housing under 8-30g by rewarding communities which are making a sincere effort, not just penalizing them. It’s a good time to consider how we can strengthen our commitment to diversity while realistically evaluating the statute’s impact on municipalities.”

Testifying and Submitting Written Testimony

A message from the Clerk of the Housing Committee:

Sign-up for the hearing will begin 5 p.m. in the Aldermanic Chambers. Please submit 35 copies of written testimony to Committee staff by 6 p.m. at 165 Church St. Second Floor, New Haven, CT 06511. Testimony received after the designated time may not be distributed until after the hearing.

Please email written testimony in Word or PDF format to HSGtestimony@cga.ct.gov. Testimony should clearly state testifier name and related Bills.

The Committee requests that testimony be limited to matters related to the items on the agenda. The first hour of the hearing is reserved for Legislators, Constitutional Officers, State Agency Heads and Chief Elected Municipal Officials.

Speakers will be limited to 3 minutes of testimony. The Committee encourages witnesses to submit a written statement and to condense oral testimony to a summary of that statement. Unofficial sign-up sheets have no standing with the Committee. All public hearing testimony, written and spoken, is public information. As such, it will be made available on the CGA website and indexed by internet search engines.