8-30g Moratorium Application Denied

By Anne White

The Town of New Canaan has faced significant challenges in its quest for a second moratorium under Connecticut’s affordable housing statute, 8-30g. Following procedural missteps and a lack of clear communication from the Department of Housing (DOH), the town’s initial application was denied, prompting a swift reapplication effort.

The Town of New Canaan reapplied for moratorium protection from Connecticut State Statute 8-30g on May 28th after learning on May 21st that their previous application was denied due to a technical change in how affordable housing units are counted. The rejection was due to a technical change in the point allocation for three-bedroom housing units, a modification that had not been communicated to the town during the application process. First Selectman Dionna Carlson expressed frustration over the lack of communication from the DOH, noting that the application fell three points short due to this undisclosed change, despite the town indicating that additional units were available if necessary.

In response to the denial, Carlson engaged directly with the Commissioner of the Department of Housing and the Commissioner’s staff to gain clarity on the revised point system. Encouraged by DOH’s willingness to expedite the new application, New Canaan submitted a revised application. However, this episode is not unique to New Canaan, as other towns, such as Brookfield and Darien, have faced similar hurdles, with initial applications being denied and only approved after considerable delay.

The delay in securing the moratorium has significant implications for New Canaan, which must now navigate a cumbersome resubmission process that could extend up to an additional 60 days. During this period, the town remains vulnerable to new development proposals under the 8-30g statute.

State Representative Tom O’Dea and State Senator Ryan Fazio have worked for the passage of an amendment to House Bill 5474, seeking to alleviate the persistent tension between New Canaan and the state over Connecticut’s affordable housing statute. The amendment addresses inconsistencies plaguing the moratorium process. For years, New Canaan has grappled with the state’s stringent requirements, despite the town’s proactive steps to foster affordable housing.

Representative O’Dea stated, “8-30g has been a failure in southern Fairfield County, especially in New Canaan and Darien. The restrictions in this statute have stifled affordable housing growth in my district, and the moratorium process has continued to pit the state against our municipalities.”

Senator Fazio echoed O’Dea’s frustration, lamenting the erosion of local control. “Local control of our towns and cities is a great tradition in our state, but 8-30g has undermined it over many decades.”

New Canaan, a pioneer in instituting a building permit fee specifically to fund affordable housing, was initially granted a moratorium. Yet, despite surpassing the required number of affordable units, a subsequent moratorium was denied. The new amendment seeks to rectify this by allowing “eligible units completed before a moratorium has begun.” This technical yet crucial adjustment promises a more equitable application of the moratorium process, directly benefiting towns like New Canaan.

This legislation, if signed into law, could mitigate the issues New Canaan has faced, streamline the moratorium process, and provide a more collaborative approach between the state and municipalities in addressing affordable housing needs. 

Until HB 5474 is signed by the Governor into law, the current application process remains unaffected, leaving New Canaan to continue its efforts under the existing framework.

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