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P&Z Closes Public Hearing On Main Street Affordable Housing Project

In striking contrast to the ultra-contentious hearing for the project at 7-9 N. Salem, the Planning and Zoning Commission quickly closed the hearing for 593 Main Street Tuesday evening with a quorum of five votes to zero.

As affordable housing public hearings go, Tuesday night's was quite tame -- although the subject of the forum, a development on Main Street, had been one of the main causes to create the group "Grow Ridgefield Together," no members of the public came forward during the alotted time for comments.

In fact, it was "one of the quietest public sessions we've ever had," said Commission Chair Becky Mucchetti.

In striking contrast to the ultra-contentious hearing for the project at 7-9 N. Salem, the Planning and Zoning Commission quickly closed the hearing for 593 Main Street Tuesday evening with a quorum of five votes to zero.

Under the 8-30g state statute for affordable housing, the 16-unit development would rest on a little over one acre and have at least 30 percent of its units at a reduced rent.

One of the major changes to the original plan included moving the parking lot from the front of the development to the back in an effort to "retain the character of the town" and cut down on impervious surface.

Other changes included additional screening in back of the property, which is across Main Street from the Casagmo development.

The affordable housing law stipulates that the commission carries the burden of proof of finding that the development would affect health, safety or welfare in such a way that outweighs the need for affordable housing, a consideration that Commissioner John Katz found subjective.

"It is a conundrum, to be sure," Katz said of the law.

Bob Jewell, a lawyer representing the applicant, said, "This will be such a vital part of the community that no one will regret the approval by this commission."

Despite a quorum, the commission chose to put off its decision until its next meeting to give the other four commissioners a chance to discuss the project.

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