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Darien Comes Up Short For Second Moratorium On Affordable Housing

The Heights at Darien is one of the recent affordable housing developments the town cited in its application for a second affordable housing moratorium, which the state denied.
The Heights at Darien is one of the recent affordable housing developments the town cited in its application for a second affordable housing moratorium, which the state denied. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue, file

DARIEN, Conn. -- The State Department of Housing has denied Darien's application for a second moratorium from the state's affordable housing statute that allows developers to overstep local zoning boards.

Connecticut General Statute 8-30g permits affordable housing developers to use appeals processes to build housing developments in towns where less than 10 percent of housing is considered affordable.

In 2010, Darien received a four-year moratorium from the state. Darien was just the third town in the state to receive a moratorium, which was based on the recent construction of affordable housing units at the Avalon Bay development and Clock Hill Homes.

The town applied for a second moratorium in December 2014 and was notified last Friday that its application had been denied.

In order to qualify, Darien needs to establish 141 "affordable housing points," which means that 2 percent of the town's housing units are deemed affordable by the state. The town's application calculated that the 106 units recently created at the Heights at Darien, as well as recent developments Garden Homes and 22-33 Tokeneke Road, were enough to qualify for a second moratorium. The state, however, determined that Darien was 4.5 points shy of meeting the minimum requirement.

Darien officials said both town and state officials agreed that the three developments qualified for affordable housing points, but that the difference in calculations related to the number of points at the Heights at Darien.

"Although this news is disappointing, we remain committed to constructing needed affordable housing within the town of Darien," said First Selectman Jayme Stevenson.

The town would review the state's decision and respond both verbally and in writing to better understand its calculations, she said. She has asked the town attorney to read through the state's response and determine the town's next steps.

"I am glad to see that, as we expected, we are very close to achieving something as rare as having a second moratorium," Stevenson said. She said the town has used its moratorium effectively.

"We are in the process of working with the Darien Housing Authority on a redevelopment of Old Town Hall Homes, and expect that this will further expand housing opportunities within our community. While we will follow up with the State Department of Housing within the next week, it will not deter us from continuing to plan for and construct affordable housing."

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