Court sides with developer in Fairfield affordable housing appeal

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FAIRFIELD — A Bridgeport Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of a developer who appealed the approval conditions the City Planning and Zoning Commission imposed on his affordable housing proposal.

Judge Marshall Berger found that the commission’s reasoning for its conditions did not outweigh the need for affordable housing, according to court documents.

The developer, 131 Beach Road LLC, submitted plans to the TPZ in 2020 for a large apartment building, seeking site plan approval and a zoning amendment that would create a special inclusion zone.

The TPZ rejected the zoning amendment but approved the plans with two conditions.


The first condition was that the building could not measure more than 36 feet. Plans proposed a five-story, 60-foot-tall building at 131 Beach Road — a 0.65-acre lot where a Masonic temple currently stands. It would contain 40 apartments, 12 of which would be reserved for affordable housing.

The second stipulation required the developer to obtain Police Commission approval for the removal of six roadside parking spaces. The traffic report recommended that he create an adequate line of sight when exiting the facility.

The developer argued that the commission’s reasoning for the denial did not meet the 8-30g standards, under which the application was filed. This state regulation allows affordable housing developers to circumvent municipal laws and regulations in order to obtain such units in communities that have less affordable housing than the state recommends, or about 10% of the housing stock. overall housing of the municipality.

The proposed development met with widespread opposition. A petition created by the Old Post Road Area Association asking the developer to scale back the project had more than 1,650 signatures as of Tuesday night.

Opponents claim the development was incongruous with the historic district and would negatively impact the adjacent historic district. Neighbors were also concerned about increased traffic in what they called an already dangerous area due to the project, which was estimated at 218 car trips on an average weekday, according to a traffic study conducted by the developer. .

According to court documents, Glenn Tatangelo, the developer’s managing partner, testified in court that the height limit imposed by the commission would have halved the number of units that could be built. He also told the court, according to the records, that decreasing the size would approximately double the unit cost from $122,000 to $225,000, making the project financially unviable.

Neither Tatangelo nor attorneys for 131 Beach Road responded to requests for comment.

The ruling effectively settled two cases, as several residents of nearby Old Post Road had also appealed the building’s conditional approval, but for the opposite reason. The court joined the two cases, according to court documents.

Residents claimed that the TPZ approving the plans was illegal and an abuse of power, and that the commission should not have done so, according to court documents. Joel Green, the attorney representing the neighbors, did not respond to request for comment. Their case was dismissed as part of the ruling.

The court found that the commission had not sufficiently proven that the requirement to remove the parking spaces was necessary to protect public safety. He also found that the commission had no standing to limit the height of the building.

“The commission has failed to meet its burden of proving that it properly considered the text amendment in light of (8-30g) or that the conditions for approval of the site plan or certificate of zoning compliance were necessary to protect a substantial public interest outweighing the need for affordable housing,” the court said. “Accordingly, (the developer’s) appeal is allowed and (the neighbours’) appeal is dismissed. .”

joshua.labella@hearstmédiact.com


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