One lesson that could be learned from a recently settled lawsuit is that Southington should work to be more proactive when it comes to affordable housing. As it stands, the town does not meet the state’s benchmark of 10 percent, with just 6 percent of housing considered affordable. Aside from failing in the desirable goal of accommodating affordable housing on its merits, the situation leaves the town restricted in its ability to deny applications.
From that perspective the settlement that will allow local developer Carl Verderame to build 28 apartment units downtown is a welcome resolution for the town.
“This is the best settlement the town could get without expending an extraordinary amount of money and probably ending up where we are right now,” said Robert Hammersley, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, before the unanimous vote.
Verderame filed the lawsuit a year ago after the commission approved the affordable housing development but reduced the number of apartments from 30 to 22. Verderame’s company, Hunter Build, had proposed the apartments on just less than two acres in the middle of a residential area that is bordered by Liberty Street, Eden Avenue, Columbus Avenue and Bristol Street.
During public hearings, a number of neighbors and property owners expressed opposition to the development. Objections focused on the increased density of the block, increased traffic and emergency vehicle access.
As it stands, the compromise agreement has Verderame building six more parking places, which brings the total for the project to 72 spaces, as well as a site plan modification that allows for better emergency vehicle access.
As Hammersley noted, this is likely the best outcome for the town. Both sides deserve credit for working things out and avoiding a protracted lawsuit.