A lawsuit against a Connecticut town over a decision on affordable housing highlights the difficulties developers face with such projects in the state.
Simsbury homeowner Dylan Gagne has filed a lawsuit accusing the town board of illegally approving a 64-unit multifamily development by Vessel Corporation in New York City, CTInsider report.
Vessel is already embroiled in legal battles with at least two other Connecticut towns — Glastonbury and Rocky Hill — that have also rejected the company’s requests for housing projects.
The Simsbury Zoning Commission has already rejected Vessel’s proposal, and chief executive Neil Rubler said the company would appeal to the High Court if a settlement could not be reached.
Gagne’s lawsuit targets the town’s Inland Wetlands and Conservation Commission, alleging that it exceeded its authority by granting Vessel’s permit. Gagne argued in the lawsuit that the decision would adversely affect the wetlands.
Gagne has previously expressed his concerns about the development.
According to CTInsider, Gagne wrote in an email to Simsbury officials on March 1: “My vision of raising a family in a town with great schools, green spaces and neighborhoods is fueled by this development. threaten.”
However, soil and wetland scientist James Sipperly disagreed with Gagne, saying the proposed site would have minimal disturbance. Instead, Sipperly argues, community members are primarily concerned with the existence of affordable housing that affects property values.
The dispute has brought into focus Simsbury’s affordable housing shortage, with just 6 percent of the housing stock meeting the state’s 10 percent requirement. Simsbury isn’t the only Connecticut town that didn’t meet the threshold.
Views of the project vary among Simsbury residents.
Local business owner Steven Mitchell said he welcomes housing suitable for younger, lower-income workers, citing the town’s underrepresentation of affordable housing.
Simsbury Sustainability Council chair Mark Scully supports the project from an energy standpoint, as it will use an all-electric system and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
However, opposition from community members was also attributed to the building’s design, which some felt was visually unappealing and inconsistent with the surrounding neighbourhood.
— Ted Glazer