Fairfield Letter: Berwick-Fairchild & Bronson Road Projects Raise Issues

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- The Fairfield Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Send letters to fairfield@dailyvoice.com.

To the editor:

The issue of building new high-density housing developments in suburban communities like Fairfield is a difficult one. While we all want to preserve the bucolic nature of our community and not put additional pressures on the heavily burdened taxpayer, it is fainthearted to dismiss the lack of reasonably priced housing available for many middle-income families, seniors and young professionals just starting out in Fairfield and suburban communities.

It is important for Fairfield residents to understand it was the General Assembly in Hartford that put the current requirements for 8-30G housing in place in 1989. Essentially, the state statute allows developers in towns that do not have a housing stock that is deemed 10 percent “affordable” to skirt many local Town Plan & Zoning requirements provided the developer includes a 30 percent allocation of such housing for the next 40 years in their development plans.

Based on the current definition, which we believe underestimates the number of affordable housing units in Fairfield, our town has a housing stock of 2.3 percent by these standards.  

It is unclear to us how Fairfield will ever meet this 10 percent definitional threshold without the construction of massive amounts of multi-story apartment buildings in our town and/or a modification to what qualifies as this type of housing. 

But we do want to offer some food for thought on the areas that are under review for the Bronson Road application in Southport that will be voted on by the TP&Z Commission on or before July 24. Similar concerns have been raised about the Berwick-Fairchild application:

  • 24 feet is the minimum width for a public right of way for access to a new development, but the Bronson Road applicant permit only provides for 20 feet, potentially creating a public safety issue if there was to be a fire or other type of emergency at the proposed multi-story complex;
  • It appears the access point to the property is a town road, not private property, and includes changes to this public road;
  • There does not appear to be sufficient parking for 96 apartment units on a 2.25-acre piece of property and street parking is not an option;
  • The remediation plan for the Mill River does not address the known issue of chromium pollution;
  • Lower Bronson Road is busy, particularly near the Exit 20 entrance ramp to I-95, and the project would bring more traffic in the area;
  • The surrounding area has an insufficient supply of sidewalks, traffic signals and crosswalks; and
  • The location is deemed in walking distance to the Mill Hill School, so any children would make the trek to school without adequate curbing, sidewalks and pedestrian signage. We also unfortunately recognize that the issue of adding students to an already crowded school.

Many of these issues, including traffic concerns, access by emergency vehicles, narrowness of roads, etc., were highlighted during the public comment period for the proposed Berwick-Fairchild development and will be voted on by the TP&Z Commission no later than Aug. 21.

Again, while we are town legislators, not planning and zoning specialists, it is clear to us that the proposed developments on both Bronson Road and Berwick-Fairchild raise a plethora of suitability and public safety issues for our town, and, as such, we do not believe either is an appropriate development for our town as presented.

Sincerely,

Edward J. Bateson

Republican Majority Leader of the Fairfield RTM

Michael D. Herley

Republican Deputy Majority Leader of the Fairfield RTM

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