Apartments Could Bring Young Newtowners Home
To the Editor:
As someone who grew up in Newtown, I love what most people love about it — the small-town atmosphere, the balance between ample green space and proximity to urban areas, and the local businesses lining Main Street, Queen Street, and downtown Sandy Hook.
But as I’ve learned from personal experience, the town’s one-size-fits-all housing — predominantly single-family homes on large lots — makes Newtown inaccessible to many.
My own family had to move because my empty-nester parents couldn’t downsize within town, and as a recent college graduate, there’s no chance I can afford to live in Newtown in the near future.
Newtown needs to have different types of housing, and I’d like to call readers’ attention to the proposed apartment building at 35 South Main Street. It’s currently going through the zoning approval process.
I wanted to provide a positive perspective about projects like these. This apartment building would provide homes to 27 families without cutting into our forests and fields. Moreover, the proposed building would be right next door to a small business (Chintz-N-Prints), the Farmhouse restaurant, and Walgreens. It would also be just a short walk from more of Newtown’s wonderful shops, restaurants, grocery stores, and both Reed Intermediate and the Middle School.
Given this proximity, I do wish the development included fewer parking and garage spaces. People have valid traffic concerns and thankfully, there will likely be a traffic study to address them. But it seems to me that building homes in developed areas where residents can walk more is an obvious part of the solution.
With an expanded sidewalk, features that match Newtown’s architectural character, and greenery planted along the road, this development will not change the feel of the neighborhood, especially since it would be located in a commercial area. In fact, homes that are designed to welcome new families and help current residents stay here are crucial to maintaining Newtown’s character.
This project might even help provide an option for people already part of our community who are struggling. Census data shows that 27% of Newtown’s households are cost-burdened, meaning that they spend a third or more of their income on housing costs. It’s often not obvious which households these are, making this issue all too easy to ignore
I’ve learned a lot as a member of the pro-homes coalition DesegregateCT, a group working to reform our state’s zoning regulations to allow the kinds of homes that Connecticut’s towns need. I’ve come to see how important compact development and walkable neighborhoods are for building an equitable, economically strong, and environmentally-friendly Connecticut.
Homes like the ones proposed on South Main Street are key to this goal. Let’s be open to the change we need to keep Newtown welcoming and vibrant.