Thoughts On Potential Housing At Fairfield Hills
The Newtown Bee’s Facebook page was populated with many thoughts about potential housing at Fairfield Hills after our weekly question was posted on October 7. Over 90 comments offered insight ranging from how space at Fairfield Hills could be used instead to the perceived merits of adding housing .
Reasons people mentioned for supporting housing at Fairfield Hills included boosting the base for restaurants and businesses; affordable housing options for seniors; having the town save money from having to demolish the buildings; offering affordable and diverse housing openings at Fairfield Hills “makes sense.”
Reasons people offered for not supporting housing included impact on taxes; a preference for housing added elsewhere; not wanting the space to become exclusively used by those living there; it would be “not cool”; overcrowding of schools; and a preference to keeping the property as a space for everyone to enjoy.
If housing is added at Fairfield Hills some mentioned they would like it limited to seniors or first responders, while others said offering space for young or small families, those with low incomes, or minorities would be a benefit.
For more information about potential housing at Fairfield Hills, see a recent story published at newtownbee.com covering the last of four sessions on the topic online at newtownbee.com/10092020/potential-developers-center-stage-at-final-fairfield-hills-info-session. The story includes a video of the virtual information session, which was hosted by The Newtown Bee.
Some of the most “liked” or “loved” responses are below, not in order:
“I have been living in town since we voted to purchase the FFH property from the state. Housing was never a consideration except for the sale of the houses around the perimeter. So many of us enjoy FFH for the trails and peace and quiet. As Newtown continues to grow, we will want and appreciate this beautiful property even more. I watched the Zoom meeting discussing residential space at FFH. They look lovely and would be wonderful for the people who live there. However, it will also turn FFH into a bustling hub with no place to go to enjoy quiet and nature... A few amenities like a theatre to see outdoor plays and concerts, cafés and shops and maybe even a bowling alley would not destroy the campus. We need to keep this property for all us to enjoy...”
“The problem is the question on the ballot. It talks about a mix of residential and commercial in no more than two buildings. Makes people picture a few apartments above small retail. That’s not the interest from developers. The interest is to pack about 170 apartments on the campus with no talks of commercial mixed use... they proposed shared parking that tenants and Newtown residents wanting to use the grounds would have to fight for... the other selling point the town is making is to avoid demo costs. So if they turn two buildings into apartments, we the town still have to spend money to take down the remaining buildings. Also, once the zoning is changed to allow housing, the Board of Selectmen can approve any proposal they want. Yes, there can be public input at their meetings, but there would be no town vote to approve or deny any formal proposal. The question on the ballot is way too vague...”
“I do believe housing is a much needed asset. We have plenty of room in our schools. Restaurants and businesses can use the boost and I am sure the rents will be affordable but not cheap. Our seniors that can’t afford the taxes, upkeep and their present homes are too large, have decided to sell would love to stay in Newtown but they have been forced to move out of town. This is just one of the reasons I would vote Yes for housing in Fairfield Hills.”
“I do not support housing in FFH. Town residents will eventually stop utilizing the property for recreation and it will become exclusive to those living there. Families with small children will not feel as comfortable letting their children enjoy the property if for no other reason the increased foot and vehicle traffic. The parking for those who do not live there will be very limited and increasing impervious surfaces will be detrimental to the open space and add to pollutants draining towards our beloved Deep Brook. Housing developers and planners should be looking to plazas like Sand Hill that are failing with retail and re-zone them for mixed use. Housing would do fabulously there! The restaurants and stores that already exist there need revitalization. There are other options for demo. Don’t forget even if this resolves that issue with one or two buildings now, how does it help with the rest? It doesn’t. It simply opens us up for dealing with this same problem the next time developers come courting. And then, we can’t argue it because we already said yes to this proposal. We need to remember the slippery slope. Protect our open space, our high meadows, and most importantly our streams and rivers.”