With affordable housing about to come front and center into the focus of the Connecticut General Assembly, Weston’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted today to engage the services of a consultant to help develop a plan.
Milone and MacBroom, the consultants often called upon by P&Z and the Board of Education, will study needs, market trends, a variety of options, and the approach taken by other communities. Eventually, a plan must be submitted to the state.
Community outreach is also a key element of the consultant’s remit, as specified in a $20,000 contract approved today by the Commission.
In July, Weston was awarded a $15,000 grant by the Connecticut Department of Housing for the study. Later, the Board of Selectmen authorized a $5,000 supplemental appropriation to make up the difference.
Mike Zuba of Milone and MacBroom said the work should take three to four months to complete.
Mr. Zuba said the work would focus on three key areas: whether a new Village District in the town’s center could accommodate affordable housing, public sentiment about the size of accessory apartments, and whether areas exist in town that could support higher density cluster housing.
Whether such developments would ever be built is another question. P&Z can only go so far as zoning for them and creating regulations.
P&Z voted down a petition earlier this month to increase the maximum size of in-home apartments to 900 square feet. The current limit is 800 square feet.
Commissioners concluded that such a move should be made in the broader context of a general housing plan, to await the results of Milone and MacBroom’s work, and possibly take it up again in the spring.
By then, more may be known about what statutory requirements the legislature may put in place to encourage diversified housing. Weston’s plan could be created in that context.
A known issue
The ten-year Plan of Conservation and Development recently adopted by Planning and Zoning acknowledges the need for more variation in Weston’s housing stock and senior-friendly housing.
It also acknowledges potential obstacles, including issues regarding the environment, water usage, and waste disposal.
According to the POCD, the town currently has only four housing units that meet existing statutory criteria.