April 19, 2017 07:14PM
By Ken Liebeskind, The North Haven Citizen
The application of the North Haven Opportunity for Affordable Housing for Clintonville Commons denied by the Planning & Zoning Commission in 2014 and reversed by a state judge in a 2016 8-30g case, received $3.2 million in state funding from the Department of Housing last week. Now, the original project will proceed – eight units of affordable two- and three-bedroom rental apartments that will be constructed at 518 Clintonville Road.
Lorraine Martin, treasurer of NHOAH, the nonprofit launched in 1993 with the aim of finding affordable housing in town, said the Clintonville Commons project was beset with a number of delays, from the initial rejection by P&Z to the 11 months before the 8-30 case was heard. Then, the first application for Competitive Housing Assistance for Multifamily Properties (CHAMP) funding was rejected.
Speaking about the decision from last week, Martin said the $3.2 million “is basically our construction budget. We already own the land, and it covers the whole cost of the project.”
Daniel Arsenault, Legislative Program Manager for the Department of Housing, said the $3.2 million is a loan, but Martin is confident it won’t have to be repaid unless NHOAH violates affordable housing terms.
“We won’t be repaying it,” Martin said. “If we fail to comply with the restrictions by not renting it to low income people, they could call the note and it would have to be sold and the loan repaid.”
Lynne Skeet, the project manager for Housing Enterprises, the housing consultant in Enfield, said the NHOAH project is eight rental units in four stand-alone buildings. “They are two- and three-bedroom units from 1,000 to 1,900 square feet,” she said.
“One three-bedroom unit will be completely handicap accessible. Two units that are built into a hillside will have a two-car garage on the ground floor with two living levels above. This overall project design offers the flexibility to provide housing opportunities to low- and moderate-income families in the North Haven area who are unable to enter existing low-income facilities with long waiting lists.”
P&Z rejected the project due to a traffic study provided by NHOAH that stated 1,800 vehicles per day traveled on Clintonville Road in excess of the speed limit. Also, NHOAH said the new development would generate 70 daily trips that have no impact on safety. The court ruled, “The records contain no evidence of a probability of harm, the decision of the commission is reversed.”
John Parese, the lawyer who represented NHOAH, said the initial P&Z decision was not unanimous “because the members knew they will lose in court.” North Haven has lost a number of 8-30g decisions, which has prompted town officials to seek alterations to the 8-30g law.
“People are worried about affordable housing projects that are not well kept up,” Martin said. “Summerdale puts the lie to that.” Summerdale is a NHOAH complex on Quinnipiac Avenue completed in 2004 with a state grant of $2.4 million.
Martin said construction of Clintonville Commons will start later this year.
Skeet said Naek Construction Co. from Vernon is the general contractor and Crosskey Architects, Hartford, will design the project.