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Darien Developers Propose Affordable Housing Zone

DARIEN, Conn. – Developers Christopher and Margaret Stefanoni are proposing an amendment to the town's zoning laws that would add an "affordable housing floating zone," which would give every property owner in town the right to develop their property for affordable housing purposes.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for every property owner in town — the rich, those in the middle and even the little guy — to help solve the affordable housing crisis in Darien," Christopher Stefanoni said.

The floating zone could be applied to any lot in Darien and would allow developers to overstep local zoning laws using Connecticut General Statute 8-30g in order to build affordable housing. It would also allow higher density projects in single-family zones, where only one dwelling per land parcel is allowed.

Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Ginsberg said his department received the amendment late last week and is reviewing it. "One of the things we have to look at it is, how does it play into the town's current moratorium? That's one of the questions we'll want to answer," he said.

Ginsberg said the next step is to hold a public hearing on the proposed amendment, which will probably take place some time in the fall.

The proposal mentions that Darien has just been named the third least affordable town in the state and that the town may have some trouble meeting the requirements for another moratorium. It cites the lack of undeveloped property suitable to building large affordable housing developments.

"The town will never build affordable housing on its own, so this amendment gives power to every property owner and allows them to rise up, fight back and accomplish what the local government is unwilling to do despite clear housing mandates by the state and federal government," Christopher said.

The couple has a long history of fighting for affordable housing in town. Earlier this year, the Planning and Zoning Commission effectively denied two of their projects, although the Stefanonis have appealed the decisions.

What do you think of the proposed Affordable Housing Floating Zone? Tell us in the comments below, on Facebook and on Twitter .

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