It is no mystery why developers have proposed rental housing developments under the state’s affordable housing law, but why Ridgefield seems to have gotten so many of them compared with neighboring towns mystifies the town’s planning director.
“We’ve had several over the last two years,” noted Planning Director Betty Brosius.
Two such developments are currently before the Planning & Zoning Commission, with public hearing continuations scheduled for the next three weeks.
This Tuesday, Jan. 29, the commission will consider the application of the Ridgefield Modular Home Corporation for 11 units, including at least three units as affordable housing, at 24 North St.
And on Feb. 12, the commission will hold the public hearing continuation on the application of Eppoliti Realty for a mixed-use development that includes 12 apartments, four of them affordable housing, above commercial space at 159 Danbury Road.
Brosius said the real estate market has been affected by the tight mortgage market, which has slowed home sales, but the rental market has been relatively unaffected.
“The rental market by default is very hot right now,” she said.
The affordable housing law requires developers to set aside at least 30 percent of their rental units for “affordable” market rents, about 80 percent of the going price for a rental apartment in the Ridgefield area.
In return, developers can use the law to gain approval for higher density developments than would be normally allowed by local zoning regulations. The state law trumps local regulations until a town meets the 10% threshold for affordable housing stock.
That explains why the affordable housing law is used, but not why Ridgefield is getting more than its share of them, Brosius said. She said other nearby towns, such as Wilton and Redding, haven’t see the same spurt in affordable housing proposals.
Brosius said it started in 2009 when local developer Steve Zemo got approval for 16 units, including five affordable housing units, on Governor Street.
Then, another local developer, Dany LeToureau, doing business as DPA LLC, got approval of an eight-unit development with three affordable units at the corner of Gilbert Street and New Street.
Michael Eppoliti and Eppoliti Realty got approval last year for 14 units, with four affordable units, at 9 North Salem Road.
And Patrick Dowend, another local developer, got approval of two applications, a 16-unit development with five affordable units at 593 Main St., and a nine-unit development with three affordable units at 613 Main St.
Why do you think Ridgefield is experiencing a spurt in affordable housing projects?