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Planners To Work on Affordable Housing Plan

Planners To Work on Affordable Housing Plan

The South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCROG) has submitted a draft affordable housing plan to the Orange Plan and Zoning Commission for its review.  Zoning Enforcement Officer Jack Demirjian said he posted the document on the town’s website for residents to review.  Members of P&Z will have a chance to make comments, prioritize strategies and suggest changes at the commission’s April 19 meeting.

Demirjian said no public hearing is required to adopt the plan, but the town has the chance to weigh in and make it its own.  The commission can vote on the revised document in May.  The final plan has to be submitted to the state by June 1.

All municipalities are required to submit a plan, in an effort to revive efforts to increase affordable housing.  SCROG has contracted with RKG Associates to work with the respective land use offices in its member towns to come up with a plan.  It sponsored a survey last fall to give residents a chance for direct input.  Several towns had informational meetings.  From Orange, about 100 people responded to the survey.  Demirjian had posted it on the town’s website and circulated the link to the different departments and even the political parties, to get people’s input.

According to its website, SCRCOG provides a platform for intermunicipal coordination, cooperation, and decision making.  It has 15 member towns in the Greater New Haven region, stretching from Milford to Madison, and includes all three Amity towns.  Over the years, SCRCOG has addressed numerous issues, such as those related to housing, transportation, land use planning, municipal services and operations, and economic development.

Back in the 1990s the state introduced an affordable housing statute to increase housing opportunities.  The law aims to make the towns an active player in the creation of housing by overriding local zoning.  If a town with less than 10% of affordable housing stock rejects a proposed development that contains some affordable units, and the project lands in court, that town has the burden of proof to show how the proposed project impacts the health and security of its neighbors.

About 1.2% of Orange’s housing stock is deemed affordable, according to the analysis.  There is currently a 46-unit development under construction at 325 Smith Farm Road, off of Boston Post Road, the majority of which will be deed restricted.

The data in the report shows, with the help of graphs and pie charts and maps, things like the distribution of housing stock, the number of building permits in the last 10 years; the income distribution and age distribution in the population.  SCROG pulled the data from the 2020 census, the 2015 Plan of Conservation and Development, the survey and the building permits of the last five years.  The report also includes a number of “strategies” that lay out different ways to create incentives for more affordable housing.

“A lot of it is informational,” Demirjian said in a phone conversation.  “It is not taking a hard stance; rather, it promotes all sorts of housing.”

By Bettina Thiel – Orange town News Correspondent

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