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Fairfield Neighbors Rail Against Housing Proposal

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – James and Brian Sakonchick want to add more affordable housing to Fairfield. But several dozen neighbors and town officials turned out to oppose their development plan Tuesday night.

“This application only produces one [affordable] unit,” neighbor and real estate attorney Lukas Thomas told the Town Plan and Zoning Commission . “It does nothing with the affordable housing issue that Fairfield is in.”

James Sakonchick plans to build a single-family house and a duplex at 206 Homeland St. Though the land is listed as a separate 5,000-square-foot parcel of vacant land in town records, it currently contains the pool of the neighboring 214 Homeland St., owned by Brian Sakonchick. The pool would be removed to make room for the two new buildings.

The project would violate Fairfield’s normal zoning regulations for the area. But the developers have petitioned to create a “Set-Aside Zone” for the lot under Connecticut General Statute 8-30g, which allows private developers leeway with local zoning laws provided 30 percent of a development is used for affordable housing. If the proposal goes through one of the three new homes would be leased at a lower rate.

But neighbors say the developers are using the regulation as a loophole to squeeze extra rental space out of a small lot. A group gave the board a petition with more than 300 signatures opposing the plan.

“We haven’t found anybody but the Sakonchicks who are [in favor of it],” said Art Rotelli, citing talks with the Greater Bridgeport Regional Council, local officials and neighbors.

The commission is allowed to deny the plan only if it presents a public health and safety risk to the neighborhood. Taking away the empty space would add to the area’s current flooding problems, neighbors said.

The extra homes would add extra parked cars along Homeland and Brookridge Avenue, blocking sightlines and posing a traffic risk, they said. The traffic study submitted by the plan was done by James Sakonchick, not an independent expert, neighbors said.

Former Bridgeport firefighter and licensed fire marshal Nick Novia also suggested that putting units so close to together would make it difficult for fire trucks and rescue ladders to access the area.

“Safety-wise, from a fireman’s standpoint, it’s not a very good situation,” said Novia, a resident of nearby Farmington Avenue.

This application marks the Sakonchick’s third attempt to pass the project through the zoning board. The Plan and Zoning Commission most recently denied the plan June 26, citing a large number of public opposition and an “incomplete” application. This round of applications uses a different zone classification than previous versions.

The Plan and Zoning Commission closed the public hearing on the proposal Tuesday night. The board’s members will vote on the proposal in a future meeting.

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