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New Proactive Approach: Efforts to Provide Housing

Brookfield planned for the necessary mixed-income housing developments by creating incentive housing zones (IHZ) because, as Poole said, “town officials recognized Brookfield’s current housing situation was not good for the community in the long run.” Town officials realized that Brookfield was subject to 8-30g provisions because less than 10% of its housing stock was affordable. 

Barnbeck, Brookfield, CT

Under the 8-30g statute, developers had the right to plan and build projects with affordable housing components in town unless the planning and zoning commission could prove a substantial public interest in health or safety outweighed the need for affordable housing. “8-30g is a burden-shifting statue,” said Peter Scalzo, a land-use attorney at Gager, Emerson, Rickart, Bower & Scalzo, LLP. “The burden is on the town. A lot of times the town loses the case and loses control of the project.” 

Barnbeck, Brookfield, CT

Scalzo was involved in Brookfield’s adoption of the incentive housing overlay zone, which allows the community to determine the amount, location, density and design of future housing projects. “With the incentive housing overlay zone, towns have more control over how the development looks, where it goes, parking, lighting, and so on,” he said. Brookfield’s Incentive Housing District Zoning Regulations, effective in September 2010, state that the overlay zone is designed to “to promote the revitalization of the commercial districts of Brookfield by encouraging mixed-use development that will provide a variety of housing and business opportunities.” This document includes various standards and guidelines for development projects including density, land use, design, and setbacks. 

This was an extremely important step which benefited the developer as well as the community. Through having these discussions on the front end to set the standards for new housing projects, community members were able to make key decisions about the location and design of future projects and developers did not have to spend the time and money on special permits to build. The incentive housing overlay zone also sped up the process for the developers to build new housing units, reducing time and expense, and thus hastening the revitalization effort of Four Corners. Said Kurfehs, the economic development commission chairman: “The town obviously prefers it because they retain a measure of control over what gets built.  If, however, the land-use commissions are confrontational to developers, they lose their advantage because most developers will then opt for the less risky 8-30g alternative.”

A Deeper Look Inside Brookfield

Next steps - Learn about how Brookfield took on their affordable housing challenge: