Hamden residents push back against affordable housing

New Haven Register (CT), 2014-08-22

Aug. 22 -- HAMDEN -- Efforts to develop an affordable housing unit are being pushed back by residents who live in the neighborhood. But another public hearing will be held before a final decision is handed down.

Earlier this month, North Haven Opportunity for Affordable Housing (NHOAH), and attorney John Parese , presented the plans for affordable housing units at 518 Clintonville Road to the Planning and Zoning Commission .

NHOAH is a not-for-profit corporation that has been around for more than 20 years. It is comprised of representatives of eight churches and one synagogue that serve the town.

The proposed plan consists of eight units in four buildings; each building will contain two units. One of the units will be handicap-accessible. The plan also shows a mix of two and three bedroom units.

Marjorie Dauster , president of NHOAH, said the exterior of the buildings will be consistent with the rest of the neighborhood.

"NHOAH was looking for property for quite some time and we had the opportunity to purchase this. It fit our criteria because it was on the bus line and it had a sewer and water available," Dauster said.

In order to be considered for affordable housing a family must meet or fall under 60 to 80 percent of the region's median income, which falls between $44,750 to $63,900 depending on the size of a family, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development .

The state mandates at least 10 percent of housing be listed as affordable; only 4.27 of the town's housing is considered affordable.

While many residents weren't opposed to the idea of affordable housing, some shared concerns pertaining to traffic and water drainage issues.

Parese said he was sympathetic to residents' concerns, but NHOAH didn't create the drainage problems.

"But it's not going to be any worse. The key with storm water management is to keep it on site as long as you can to prevent down gradient and flooding," Parese said.

Dauster said NHOAH will do its best to remain attentive to the drainage problems.

"We have been mindful of that in making the plans and we're working to aggregate plans to work with our engineer to not make it worse," Dauster said.

As for traffic problems, Parese asked the Commission to keep the public hearing open until the town's traffic engineer could respond to concerns such as sight line issues.

Vern Carlson , chairman of the Commission, said the sight line, to the west of the proposed units' driveway, came into question and police would be conducting a traffic count at various speed limits

"For example, if the sight line is 300 feet from the driveway and a vehicle was traveling at 30 miles-per-hour, someone would have 30 seconds to see it versus if it was traveling at 50 miles-per-hour, (when) you would only have 4 seconds," Carlson said.

Parese added the proposed housing units are significantly less dense than other multi-family developments in town, such as Tuscan Village and Oakwood.

"I'm sure the others (complexes) have less ground per unit," Parese said.

Despite concerns, Dauster is hopeful the proposal will pass.

"It's important everywhere. Entry-level housing has a large need for the population of first-year teachers, fireman and police to live in the community they grew up in and for young people to be able to build a life," Dauster said.

Carlson said he's open to hearing opinions and encourages residents to attend the second public hearing at the Recreation Center on Sept. 8 .

" North Haven does need affordable housing, but it needs to be in the right place. I'm looking at it with an open mind," Carlson said.

Call Ebony Walmsley at 203-789-5734. Have questions, feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect directly with the editors of the New Haven Register at AskTheRegister.com .


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