Video | Sen. Gordon Continues Strong Support for Towns Through End of Legislative Session

June 9, 2023

Disappointed by subversive bill leading way to controversial ‘Fair Share’ housing mandate



State Sen. Jeff Gordon (R-Woodstock), who is also the Chair of the Town of Woodstock’s Planning & Zoning Commission, opposed the Senate’s passage of S.B. 998 on the final day of the legislative session. The measure was originally written to contemplate tax abatements for certain easements. In the final days of the 2023 legislative session it was amended by the House to include new, sweeping policy that includes a controversial “Fair Share” provision (H.B. 6890).


The “Fair Share” and unrelated Housing amendments were narrowly adopted in the late-night House session on June 2. Although presently written as a “study”, the proposal is not a true study. It threatens a sweep to take away local decision-making in municipalities across Connecticut. The policy would remove access to hundreds of millions of dollars of critical infrastructure funding if towns and cities do not acquiesce to new housing mandates.


Senator Gordon spoke at length during the June 7 Senate debate to underscore his continued message to fellow lawmakers: “The people of Connecticut know best what is best for their towns.”


He said, “The people of Connecticut know best what is best for their towns. I have been fighting to uphold this idea in my 16 years as Woodstock’s Planning & Zoning Chair. When I ran for the senate, I said I would continue this effort. I fought right through to the final hours of the 2023 legislative session to preserve residents’ voices in their towns.”


“This “Fair Share” provision is to be run by government bureaucrats and academics who do not know what’s best for the people in Connecticut’s 169 towns. I challenged the bill’s proponents to require those involved at a state government level to go to each town and city, meet with people, talk with them, learn from them and partner with them. Why is the state not doing it? This approach is how you get good things done for public policy.


“When you’re thinking of town planning and zoning, it can be abstract. One must drill down on details and truly understand it all. My years of practical, real world experience gives me that knowledge. When you’re looking at things in academia, you have a separated view from those who deal with it in practice each day. These decisions at the state level will be divorced from town residents, who will have to deal with them. “Fair Share” as it will be studied misses the point. It’s going to come out with a wrong product that isn’t good for the people of Connecticut. I’ve read these new provisions many times and doing so validates my serious concerns.”


Senator Gordon went on to relate his experience with local decision-making and what is needed to get an accurate representation of the true affordable housing needs of each town.


“When I make decisions in Woodstock as a town official, whether its reviewing housing or business applications, at times we go out into the field. Site walks are crucial to a plan’s understanding. The plan may look good on paper, but we go out to see what’s really going on. The “Fair Share” provision in H.B. 998 does not do that. It is a big missed opportunity,” he said.


“If you do things without understanding the reality, you don’t make good decisions and these have unintended consequences. We should endeavor to double and triple our understanding so that doesn’t happen. I hope that those in state government involved with the “Fair Share” methodology are determined go out and about because this is how to get accurate information.


“We all want a state where housing is affordable and attainable. The partisan narrative is that those who oppose “Fair Share” do not care about the people of Connecticut. This is wrong. We do agree with the shared goal of moving the state forward and trying to help people responsibly, reasonably and realistically, understanding what we can and cannot achieve. We all share the goal of housing affordability.


“Also, to say that land use and zoning policies led to unaffordable housing is false. Land use and zoning regulations have become the political boogeyman. We should be studying, and acting on, the real reasons underlying housing unaffordability in Connecticut. It has become unaffordable for too many people, not just with housing, but with the cost of living, tax burdens, and more. By tackling these issues, we can also make housing more affordable and in reach for more people across our great state. This is what I am fighting for and what I will continue to fight for.”


Senator Gordon has consistently been a voice for local decision-making and control throughout the 2023 legislative session and worked with people to oppose H.B. 6890 and other measures seeking to cede local planning and zoning decisions to state government.