This week we again see ways in which state government chooses to look at a Connecticut town’s wealth as one of the metrics in which it evaluates state aid and funding.
Putting aside the fairness of that given the rate at which Fairfield County also proportionately gives money to the state is much higher, what makes it worse is the state is using this metric when it evaluates what kind of education aid we should get.
So our children’s state aid is decided by how much money a town has, even though there are many people, including children, struggling in Darien as much as they are in more financially-challenged districts.
Strangely, on the flip side of this, when it comes to housing, population and open space, we are suddenly all the same. We make laws about cookie cutter, state-mandated affordable housing based on how much we have and are able to build regardless if we are 99% developed Darien or somewhere more rural like Woodstock.
We toss around an idea of state-mandated inclusionary zoning, including how much of it should be built and where it should go with very little flexibility.
Such a state law could drastically change multi-using housing development in Darien where there is already so little space to build. It would by its nature have to increase the size of the development to still allow a developer a way to make any kind of profit.
Darien’s current inclusionary zoning regs work. They accomplish the goals of the state’s suggested statewide mandate while still giving a town flexibility to adapt to its own characteristics.
It’s odd to consider that this bill was proposed by a department whose head is a Darien resident and former first selectman who supported Darien’s current inclusionary zoning regs and is fully aware of Darien’s development challenges.
Unfortunately, it appears the community neighborhoods, size of properties, local Planning & Zoning regulations are immaterial to such state mandates. The only time Hartford sees Fairfield County as different is when it conveniently enables it to take or keep more of its money.
It’s a double, and troubling, standard.
Hartford should be careful what it wishes for, because if the state continues to be managed in this way, as businesses and the wealthy flee to states that value their various investments, it may end up with all towns being exactly the same — broke.