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How Things Change



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To the Editor:

My, Oh My, how things change.

The Board of Selectmen are meeting December 7 to discuss the proposed new language for Fairfield Hills housing amendment.

Follow the sequence of events.

First Step: The Fairfield Hills Master Plan Review Committee recommendation is below. It clearly says that a commercial proposal could include a housing component which is consistent with the vision of the property.

Master Plan Recommendation: “Supported Uses: The Committee recommends that the plan be modified to allow commercial proposals that include a housing component provided that the proposal is for no more than two existing buildings and that the commercial component is consistent with the vision of the property.”

Second Step: Referendum

The town referendum asked voters to decide whether this should be allowed in up to two building. 56% said yes. A shade over half. The public approved. Ah, but to what?

Third Step: Now fast forward, just a couple of weeks from the referendum, and see the recommended amendment to allow housing now says “any housing proposal must included a commercial component.”

Proposed Amendment to Article III, Fairfield Hills Adaptive Reuse Zone (FHAR)

Rental Residential Housing shall be allowed in up to two (2) of the existing Fairfield Hills Campus Buildings. Residential housing may include assisted living, 55 and older, affordable and market rate units, with the following conditions: A Commercial component shall be included in any (housing) project proposal.

The shift is notable. It goes from the commercial proposal can include a housing component to a housing proposal shall include a commercial component. Turned it upside down.

The first recommendation envisioned retail and other commercial store fronts on the first floor, open and available to the community, and rental on the above floors. Imagine the “Main Street” concept.

The amendment vocabulary now allows a stand alone apartment building to have some commercial space, maybe on the first floor, or even in the basement. Or top floor rear corner, a storage room for rent.

The moral of the story is pay attention. This newly approved housing component will likely be changed, little by little, until it is hardly recognizable to what the community had in mind when they said yes to a housing component.

Attend or follow by video the town meetings, read the minutes, speak up, write letters, or you might be surprised at what you see when you wake up some morning in the future.

Bruce Walczak

12 Glover Avenue, Newtown December 4, 2020

Comments are open. Be civil.

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