Neighbors protesting the proposed three-unit development on Homeland Street laid the groundwork Tuesday for public health and safety concerns that could occur should the plan be approved.
The plan to create three units (one duplex and one single family home) at 206/214 Homeland Street has been filed under the state's affordable housing statute 8-30g -- developer James Sakonchick plans to designate one unit "affordable." The other two units would be sold at market price to subsidize the costs of maintaining low-income housing, according to Sakonkich's Aug. 28 presentation. Sakonchick was denied twice before to develop three units on this property.
To deny the application, the Plan and Zoning Commission must prove the plan poses health and safety risks that outweigh the town's need for affordable housing.
Under the state's statute, each municipality in Connecticut should aim to designate 10 percent of dwellings as affordable. Fairfield currently hovers around 2 percent.
The public hearing portion of the process concluded Tuesday at McKinley Elementary School. The standing-room only crowd of residents argued that the due to potential traffic increase, flooding and drainage problems, and possible hindrance to emergency responders.
Don Connetta of Homeland Street showed commissioners through a series of staged photos what the street would look like if the three units and the planned two driveways (one shared) were approved.
He estimated that the structures would equate to six vehicles, at least a few of them would be parked in the street. According to fellow resident Andrew Sevin, also of Homeland Street, about 25 - 30 children under age 10 live and play in the neighborhood. The proposed development sits at the intersection of Homeland Street and Brookridge Avenue.
"There is potential for some terrible accidents," Connetta said.
Marcy Spolyar, who lives on Brookridge Avenue, had similar remarks.
"People don't stop [at the stop signs], they don't obey the speed limits," Spolyar said. "You're just asking for a kid to get swiped."
Residents also contested the legitimacy of Sakonchick's traffic survey, which he conducted himself. Some, like Merritt Street resident and real estate attorney Lukas Thomas, felt the report was grounds for the commission to rule the application incomplete and deny it.
Several residents explained to the commission the drainage issues that could occur if two structures are built on the lot, limiting the amount of land that runoff from rain and snow melt could seep into. Properties adjacent to the 206 and 214 Homeland Street rely on sump pumps to prevent basement flooding.
RTM member Marc Patten, D-7, spoke on behalf of Homeland Street resident Deborah Blanchard, who was unable to attend the hearing but sent in a letter. She said drainage issues caused a sinkhole to form near her garage and her family's aboveground pool began to sink into the ground, forcing them to remove it.
One neighbor also pointed out that the density of structures on Homeland Street, should the units be approved, would create a "terrible atmosphere in case there's a fire."
Former Bridgeport firefighter and fire marshal Nick Novia of Farmington Avenue explained the porch attached to one of the proposed buildings would not be a safe place to put a ladder if needed to rescue someone from the second floor.
He also said the crowding due to traffic would make it difficult for first responders' vehicles to get in and out of the area.
In addition to outlining the health and safety concerns the plan could pose, a few spoke to the content of the statute itself.
, D-133, said the legislature works to "make sure the laws we create are good ones."
Often, she said, they are flawed, and unintended, far-reaching problems can sprout. Support to amend the statute is "growing rapidly," Fawcett said, and she urged the commission to deny the application, allowing more time for the legislature to "bring affordable housing to Connecticut the right way."
Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey stepped up to speak, and said that while she supports the statute's intent, "this is not the way to address affordable housing in town."
The public hearing on the proposal concluded with a brief rebuttal by Sakonchick. According to the town calendar, the Plan and Zoning Commission meets again Tuesday, Sept. 18.