21 Aug 2014
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Milford Affordable Housing Application Headed to Court

Pond Point Avenue proposal goes to litigation.

Milford Affordable Housing Application Headed to Court

The court will now have its say on whether affordable housing belongs on Pond Point Avenue.

Facing fierce public opposition, the Planning and Zoning Board Dec. 19 denied the 23-unit application submitted by Colberg LLC for 86 Pond Point Ave.

Members cited reasons introduced by dozens of residents over several public hearings; namely, an unsafe increase in traffic and area flooding.

Colberg filed its appeal in state Superior Court Jan. 8.

“The reasons stated by the Board for its denial were speculative and were not supported by evidence,” the appeal states.

Lack of ‘expert testimony,’ developer claims

The appeal claims that the board’s decision lacked “expert testimony.” It says the Milford Police Department OK’d the traffic study and the city engineer “made no comment regarding drainage or runoff problems.”

The traffic study looked at a 500-foot portion of road in front of the proposed site. State statistics showed only four accidents occurred on that stretch in a recent three-year period, the applicants said.

But the study excluded the nearby intersection with New Haven Avenue, and many residents said that junction needed to be included to show the full impact an additional 70 cars would have.

One speaker said that data he received from local police quoted more than 40 accidents on a larger stretch of Pond Point Avenue over the past 39 months.

Milford State Sen. Gayle Slossberg said the state figures were “certainly not sufficient" and called for more input from the Milford Police Department.

State’s affordable housing law front and center

The application was submitted under state statute 8-30g, a law passed in 1990 that enables the opportunity for affordable housing in Connecticut towns whose affordable housing stock is less than 10 percent.

The state statute allows developers to bypass local zoning regulations so long as at least 30 percent of the proposed units are deemed “affordable” for households earning less than the state’s median income, which is $54,000.

If a local zoning board wants to deny such an application, it must prove its health and safety concerns outweigh the need for affordable housing. In Milford, the figure is just above 6 percent.

Often, a denied application is settled in court, which can prove costly for a municipality. City Attorney Jonathan Berchem said the city has another affordable housing application pending litigation for a proposal on Merwin Avenue.

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