Moratorium application sent to Hartford
The Town of Darien's official application requesting a moratorium under State Statute 8-30g was mailed to the Department of Economic and Community Development Wednesday afternoon, according to Planning & Zoning Director Jeremy Ginsberg.
"Andrea [Aldrich] said the application has been shipped by FedEx overnight for a July 8 morning delivery," Ginsberg said Thursday morning. "So there you go. It should be there this morning."
The full application includes the town's original intent-to-apply documents, as well as the comments filed with the town by the Stefanoni family in June, and the Town's response to those comments. Once received by the DECD, the State will have 90 days -- until Friday, Sept. 17 -- to decide whether it will grant Darien a four-year moratorium, during which all developers will have to follow the Town's zoning laws.
"I'll wait until we hear back from the DECD to comment personally," Ginsberg said Thursday morning.
First Selectman David Campbell said he is confident the town will be granted a moratorium.
"We've done a lot of research and have been dealing with the State on this issue for the last six months, so we feel we know where the rules lie and we're pretty confident that we qualify under the rules," Campbell said Thursday.
"It's great to get it done, and let's see how the state responds," he said.
There are currently 6,792 dwelling units in town; to meet the 2 percent guideline, the town must have 135.84 units of affordable housing, according to documents provided by the town's Planning & Zoning Department.
Last month, Christopher and Margaret Stefanoni filed comments with the P&Z Department, which claim the town only has about 70 points toward a moratorium, rather than the 144 officials claim.
Darien stands by its claim that the Avalon Darien development is entitled to an additional 35.5 points as a set-aside development in the response. The document also refutes the Stefanonis' tally as it applies to other developments throughout the town.
While the Stefanonis' report claims the town should not receive any points for the 30 units of housing at Clock Hill Homes, the town maintains in its response that it should receive 30 moratorium points for the development.
The Stefanonis' June 3 comments state that "the maximum income levels for purchasers of the 30 deed-restricted units at Clock Hill Homes exceed by a significant amount the State maximum income levels allowed and therefore do not qualify for any moratorium points."
The Town refutes this in its response by stating that in a June 16 phone call between Aldrich, P&Z's manager of community development, and Michael Santoro of the DECD, "Santoro confirmed that points can be given to deed-restricted developments that are deed-restricted at 80 percent of the [area median income]. Only the set-aside developments require the lesser of [area median income] or [state median income]." Additionally, the Town writes that Santoro confirmed via a June 21 e-mail that "a deed-restricted unit serving a family at or below 80 percent of the area median income for 40 years would qualify for one point."
The response also cites that same e-mail while countering the Stefanonis' claim that the two units in the Villager Pond development do not qualify for any moratorium points because it exceeded income limits.
With respect to the Cottage on Edgerton Street, for which the Town claims six points and the Stefanonis claim should receive zero, the comments state "six deed-restricted units were confirmed by the DECD's 2009 and 2010 Affordable Housing Appeals List."
Three things can happen at the end of the 90-day period during which the DECD will review Darien's application: Darien can win a moratorium through a favorable decision; Darien can be denied a moratorium through an unfavorable decision; or Darien can win a moratorium if the DECD does not reach a decision.
"We'll wait to hear from them," Ginsberg said. "At this point, we've had the hearing we've submitted our response, and now the full package, including the original application, is up in Hartford.
"It will be very interesting to see what DECD comes back with. I think we'll learn a lot from their decision," he said.