FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Approximately 50 Fairfield neighbor broke into applause in McKinley Elementary School’s cafeteria Tuesday evening.
The group of Homeland Street area residents reacted to a decision by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission to reject another bid from developers James and Brian Sakonchick to use affordable housing laws that would bring a multi-unit development to their neighborhood.
The Sakonchicks planned to build two houses—a single-family and a duplex—on the 5,000-square-foot lot at 206 Homeland Street. Though this would violate Fairfield’s zoning laws for the area, they made their application under Connecticut General Statutes Section 8-30g, which allows such projects to go through as long as one-third of the units are set aside for affordable housing.
The application was actually the father and son’s third this year. Most recently they petitioned to build a similar project on a combined 10,000-square-foot lot made with the neighboring property, 214 Homeland St.
When that was denied this summer, the Sakonchicks resubmitted an application to build the same two buildings on the smaller lot, and leave the single-family home already at 214 Homeland intact.
“This is actually worse, or farther from being approved than the original application,” said Commission vice-chair Seth Baratz.
Though the affordable housing law gives developers some leeway, the zoning board felt it had the right to reject the application. The board said the application was incomplete, as it did not include a traffic study by an independent expert, only one done by James Sakonchick himself.
Commission Chair Brian LeClerc also pointed out that the building drawings also included inaccurate labels and calculations. “The plans were incorrect, inconclusive and in fact misleading,” LeClerc said.
The commissioners also said their decision was swayed by testimony from Assistant Planning Director James Wendt. At last week’s public hearing Wendt argued that 206 and 214 Homeland Street were the same lot, not two different ones. The back deck and pool of the house at 214 Homeland are on the neighboring lot. The entire area also shares a fence and an in-ground sprinkler system.
“The evidence is clear—the intent of the (former) owner was not to keep the lots separate,” said Commissioner Matthew Wagner.
The Town Plan and Zoning Commission voted to deny the application by a unanimous vote Tuesday night.