State Senator Tony Hwang (R-28) hosted an informational forum to educate and raise awareness of existing statutory language impacting local land use and zoning. Topics included explaining the application and interpretation of the Connecticut General Statute (CSG) 8-2 (local zoning authorities) and 8-30g (Affordable Housing).  

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Today’s panel presentation and discussion is intended to provide information and insight on various state laws and their impacts on local zoning or land use,” Hwang said. “As the newly-appointed ranking Senate leader on the Planning and Development Committee, I will continue to raise awareness and represent our communities on these potential issues so that lawmakers can fix or create regulations to support the needs of all types of neighborhoods in Connecticut. There are challenges faced by not just suburban communities, but cities and rural areas as well. Federal, state and local governments must collaborate to allow for practical and sustainable solutions for the myriad of housing challenges throughout our state.”  

The panel also shared updates on the current efforts in the Connecticut General Assembly in proposed changes to land use and zoning in Housing and Planning and Development Committees.  The panel also explored the mission and goals of DeSegregateCT and the legislative proposal of Sen Saud Anwar.

Hwang was joined by a panel of experts including:

Francis Pickering, Western CT Council of Governments (WestCOG)

Ken Langille, Former CT General Assembly Housing Committee Analyst/Attorney

Betsy Gara, CT Council of Small Towns (COST)

Matthew Mandell, Westport Resident & Land Use & Zoning Advocate

Also, area Connecticut General Assembly members were invited to listen and learn about these important issues. Those who attended included State Representatives Laura Devlin (R-134), Brian Farnen (R-132), Cristin McCarthy Vahey (D-133) and Jonathan Steinberg (D-136).

“My goal in the upcoming session is to promote measures that create opportunities for all,” Hwang said. “Land and property rights are critical and there must be careful consideration of the environmental impact of development regulations.”

There was a consistent theme throughout the forum: everyone must be engaged in these discussions and decisions surrounding housing in Connecticut communities. Betsy Gara called for a holistic approach in crafting policy that involves local zoning regulations as opposed to the current “one size fits all” model that is being suggested through current proposals.

An important question that was raised during the forum was “Does 8-30g solve affordable housing problems or just create tension?”

“As the legislature considers implementing any development or zoning regulations on Connecticut municipalities, there must be four thoughtful discussion points,” Hwang said:

  1. There must be a thoughtful and researched determination on how to adapt the concept of neighborhood “character” so that it can be defined and used as a measurable determination by state or local planning and zoning boards.
  2. Strong protections of Connecticut’s waterways must be included in and mandated development plans.
  3. There must be a way to balance safety and density in a way that works in all scenarios from the largest cities to the least-populated, rural towns.
  4. Any new regulations must not cause a chilling effect on local governments. Towns must not feel reluctant to stand up to development firms and contest proposals from fear of a potential lawsuit and the associated costs.

“State-mandated laws, while well-intended, can have unforeseen and varying impacts on Connecticut’s cities and towns,” Hwang said. “This is especially true in matters concerning land use and zoning. I appreciate today’s panel for taking the time to work through the current and potential future challenges for Connecticut municipalities.”

The panel will be the first in a series of discussions in which Hwang will further explore state laws and their effect on the state’s 169 cities and towns.

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