Residents will have the opportunity to hear from the group DesegregateCT on March 13 when the organization will give a presentation to Easton’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
DesegregateCT, which describes itself as a pro-homes coalition of neighbors and nonprofits, will present information to the commission about their Work Live Ride program, an initiative designed to create transit-oriented community districts near transit stations and bus lines that fit the specific needs of individual communities. Municipalities that choose to opt-in become eligible for state assistance and funding for planning and design, infrastructure upgrades and home construction.
DesegregateCT’s director Pete Harrison said the group learned through interactions with local communities that its previous proposals have been hindered by their top-down, one-size-fits-all approach. Work Live Ride is meant to be a response to that feedback, with the understanding that each town should be empowered to make its own decisions.
“Work Live Ride is a pretty exciting evolution of conversations we’ve had with folks that love what we’re doing and folks that don’t like what we’re doing, who haven’t appreciated the mandate approach from Hartford,” said Harrison. “We crafted this proposal internalizing a lot of the good faith criticism from the previous transit oriented development proposal.
“There wasn’t a lot of flexibility or a lot of ability for a local community to navigate it. Work Live Ride really starts there, it starts with the idea of local control,” he said.
Easton’s Planning and Zoning Commission chair Raymond Martin said he accepted the group’s request to present to the commission because they “honestly want to make things work for each individual community without substantially changing the characteristics of a community.”
“Easton is never going to build high density affordable housing,” said Martin. “It just won’t work because we have no city sewers. This is an effort to make it so that if there are one or two affordable units as accessory apartments, they have a solution for getting people from home to work every day.”
Environmental sustainability is one of the core principles of the proposed Work Live Ride program according to Harrison, and that is why he says DesegregateCT wants feedback from towns like Easton. A lack of centralized affordable housing development can have long a term impact on green spaces in Connecticut, Harrison said.
“The demand for housing in Connecticut means that it’s going to go someplace. It’s just going to go further out, in a green field, in a forest, farther from infrastructure, farther for commutes and all that,” he said.
Harrison emphasized that it is important that each town is able to make their own decisions regarding whether or not they opt-in to Work Live Ride program. What works for one town may or may not work for another town. Municipalities that choose to opt-in would work with the state’s Office of Responsible Growth to develop their housing plan near transit stations.
The Work Live Ride proposal submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly as “An Act Concerning Qualifying Transit-Oriented Communities” was referred to the Planning and Development Committee on March 9 and is now House Bill No. 6890 with a public hearing scheduled for March 15.
The group reached out to Easton P&Z after giving similar public presentations to the planning and zoning commissions in Westport and Greenwich last month.
According to the March 13 P&Z agenda, DesegregateCT’s presentation is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Easton Public Library, 691 Morehouse Rd. The meeting will also be broadcast live on Zoom:
Meeting ID: 890 8326 0623 ; Passcode: 993288 ; Dial in: 1 646 558 8656
More information about Work Live Ride is available on the DesegregateCT website.