WESTPORT, Conn., June 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Westport RTM Member and State Representative candidate Greg Kraut (R-136) today announced his plan for Affordable Housing Reform, while contrasting it with a recent vote the incumbent representative took.
"I absolutely support sufficient affordable housing to meet the needs of those who are priced out of the market, but my frustration is when developers come in and use an affordable housing regulation to skirt around our zoning laws, which is often the case," Kraut said.
Incumbent Rep. Jonathan Steinberg recently voted in favor of HB 5045 (https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/CGABillStatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=HB5045) a bill to enact stricter penalties on towns that fail to loosen their zoning regulations and allow more multi-story buildings. Although the bill died in the Senate, Kraut pointed to this vote as an example of the opposing views between him and Rep. Steinberg.
The bill prioritized Hartford's views of what is best for towns over the desires of the towns themselves. "This has been Rep. Steinberg's consistent approach: he represents Hartford, not Westport (and we know how successfully Hartford has managed the State)," says Kraut. The bill would have punitively punished towns who did not comply with its mandates, with loss of discretionary funding from the state.
This bill tried to strong arm local planning and zoning commissions and disregard the input of local communities to clear the way for predatory developers to impose large developments on local neighborhoods, even if the projects did not fit the community's character or historic nature and were opposed by local residents.
"In spite of the hard work done by Westport to provide affordable housing, Rep. Steinberg has consistently made it harder for Westport to achieve a moratorium and take zoning control back from the state and developers — he said last year Westport should 'Put up or Shut up' and apologized for Westport, while affordable housing legislation was being discussed in Hartford," said Kraut. "This is a clear example of our incumbent representative putting party loyalty over the best interests of the Westport community."
"Westport families should be extremely disappointed in the actions of their state representative because his support of this bill weakens the town's control over development and makes life easier for them," said Kraut. "This is an enormous unfunded mandate from the state. Unrestricted development means even worse traffic problems, public safety concerns, a strain on our infrastructure, and an overall burden to town finances which makes it that much harder to balance the budget and fund our schools and towns without property tax increases."
Kraut presented a Three Point Plan for affordable housing reform below.
Three Point Plan for 8-30g Reform
Westporters recognize the need for more affordable housing, but the state legislature's solution, 8-30g, has made small towns like Westport a battleground. It doesn't have to be that way. Despite what our elected officials promise every two years, 8-30g is not going away. The way to protect Westport is to enact sensible reforms that can appeal to broad constituencies across the state.
Here are three common sense 8-30g reforms that I will propose:
- Allow group homes for people with disabilities to count towards our inventory of affordable housing. This common-sense amendment recognizes that people with disabilities need affordable housing and encourage the public and private sector to provide more housing opportunities for this underserved population in Westport and elsewhere.
- Award extra affordable housing points to existing structures that are repurposed for affordable housing and give points for properties built before 1990. Well-built, older structures contribute to the character of our community. Their scale and design typically reflect the prevailing aesthetic in mature neighborhoods. Encouraging adaptive reuse of existing buildings encourages more affordable housing in communities like Westport where excess housing stock already exists.
- Mandate consideration of environmental factors in 8-30g applications. The goal of encouraging affordable housing can be achieved without doing irreparable damage to Connecticut's and Westport's sensitive environmental resources.
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