Parkside Revised Plan

The Parkside redevelopment is heading back to Court as the applicants look to avoid stipulations detailed in the approval.

The Branford Housing Authority and Beacon, the developer working on the project, have filed an appeal, despite a favorable 3-2 vote last month on a modification to the previous approval. The latest filing is the latest in a variety that have been filed in order to circumvent stipulations or local zoning law by the BHA and Beacon.

With the appeal, Beacon is attempting to avoid stipulations that would ensure emergency access via neighboring property. In ensuring said property will always remain undeveloped, and the available for emergency use and parking, the Planning and Zoning Commission required Beacon to obtain a deed restriction from the neighbor, making sure the impacted portion is never developed.

That neighboring portion is owned by the town. In order for the town to place a deed restriction on a property, the town charter requires approval by various town entities, including the Representative Town Meeting. Realizing approval is unlikely, Beacon and the Housing Authority are now trying to get that stipulation removed.

Last week, Tim Hollister the attorney for Beacon, sent in a list of questions for explanation by the Planning and Zoning commission. The item was on the July 11 agenda, but earlier in the day, Hollister filed the lawsuit.  Due to the ongoing litigation, the Commission chose not to publicly discuss the questions posed, and instead will discuss it in executive session at a future meeting.

The Branford Housing Authority, which is not a town entity, and Beacon have filed a lengthy list of changes and appeals during the multi-year process.

Initially, the project was proposed without using the affordable housing statute. But the four story structure had little chance of passing in a neighborhood like Indian Neck, where its design made no attempt to match the area.

After making some changes, Beacon reapplied, this time using 8-30g, the affordable housing law. The law allowed the applicant to largely circumvent local zoning law, and limited reasons for denial to only health and safety issues.

After a lengthy process, the plan was granted a plurality, a 3-2 vote in favor. But neighbors had filed a petition against it, and reaching certain criteria, the law then required a supermajority vote, in this case 4-1. Falling short of such margin, the project was denied.

The BHA and Beacon appealed, and judge Robert Berger agreed with Beacon, that the supermajority vote did not apply to affordable housing applications. Thus the project was approved.

But, one of the conditions of approval was that Beacon obtain an access road, known as the Melrose access, on town property. Beacon, in their application, actually proposed this condition.

But as it was town property, it required approval by the town legislature, something that was denied 18-12. RTM members did not want a road to divide up a town asset and neighbors on Melrose Avenue objected.

After failing to acquire the access road, Beacon applied to Planning and Zoning to get this stipulation removed.

After another lengthy process, the Commission voted 3-2 to approve removing the Melrose access, but replaced it with a Sliney Road access point. That approval requires the acquisition of a deed restriction from the town, which Beacon is once again appealing.

A large part of the funding for the 67-unit project will come from tax credits issued by the state by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority. The request is included in CHFA documents for $26,190,782, or $435,683 per unit. 

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(8) comments

Sailsalot

Tax credits from the state. Just another way to force us to accept low-income housing the town does not want.

Guest

Speak for yourself Sailsalot there are alot of people struggling because of the t lack of affordable housing, rents in the state are extremely high!

Guest

I always speak for myself. I don't need a political party to provide me with talking points and I care not for political correctness. Affordable housing is a euphemism for low-income housing. Low- income housing has a long history of attracting people with social and financial problems. It can create burdens, elderly residents. This new project will provide low-income housing and do little for elderly residents. This is nothing more than an attempt by a developer to make some quick cash using our state's convoluted zoning regulations. Branford will be tasked with dealing with the effects of low-income housing for many years.

Sailsalot

Correction: will create burdens on the town that accepts it. The original project was created to assist elderly residents. That is not the case in the new project.

Guest

If you actually understood affordable housing finance, you would know that the Tax Credit is actually federal but the 9% LIHTC is awarded on a competitive basis by the Ct Department of Housing. In other states the administrator of the 9% LIHTC competitive process could be one of many other types of entities.

Sailsalot

And your point is?

Guest

As a tenant OF Parkside One, I need this town to get this resolved. The building balcony’s have cement falling down and no fire suppression system in the apartments. While all this time has been going on Parkside has not fixed a lot of things, ie, putting plywood up under balconies that have cracked. I still have the same appliances, rugs, linoleum ,etc from when I moved in 15 yrs ago. Never mind even a fresh coat of paint for the walls. Parkside will not even provide paint for us to do it ourselves. When I moved in, it was Senior/disabled. I don’t know when Parkside decided we were going to be open to “ affordable housing”. Though Beacon SAYS that the current tenants are Grandfathered in, I see no evidence of a LEGAL doc saying this. As a tenant, a senior, being told it would be open to families, etc, do you really think I want to have screaming kids around me? I just want peace and quiet which I no longer do as Parkside started renting to younger disabled people who have behavior issues resulting in them knocking on your door asking for food, money, a ride, at ALL times of the day and night. My other concern is that after this thing is built that I’ll be homeless. Right now there’s 50 apts with efficiencies and a few one bedrooms. That only leaves 17 apts for the new residents. The apts are going to be one and two bdrms. That means some of us will be given two bdrms, but what happens if I get a two bdrm and a family wants to move in? They’ll get more money for families with the new rent hike! ( I think new renters have to have at least a $17,000 minimum income. A lot of current tenants incomes are way less than that. Don’t tell me Parkside and Beacon won’t find a reason to get rid of the current tenants to put in tenants that can bring in more income! They have to get enough money to make this profitable! I’m letting you know how a current TENANT feels.

Guest

Exactly right. Extremely sad that the multi million dollar Beacon and their high priced attorney play games and waste time while the current residents are still stuck in unsafe apartments with no relief in sight. $435,000 per unit? I’m not sure many houses nearby are worth that much, sounds like a lot of profit is added in, and ultimately paid for, by taxpayers. I’m also curious about how BHA chose to sell out the senior and disabled residents to begin with. Their record keeping is sloppy or nonexistent. Did they even try other finance options or approaches before signing a sweet deal with Beacon, after which they made feeble attempts to show it was the only option? They don’t answer to the town but are a state sanctioned entity, but who monitors them? I’m not sure there are even five board members (supposed to include one resident) legally required since they began in the 1970s....so is what they did even legal? At least one board member is employed by Yale and appeared to conduct board business (emails, phone calls, meetings) on his employer time...nice work ethics. Love to see an investigation into all that. Mostly I’d just like the town to stand firm and stick up for our current Parkside residents and provide for them instead of letting corporate profits and threats of lawsuits override doing the right thing

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