Halloran Sage recently won an appeal that reaffirms two key safeguards for affordable housing in Connecticut. In Garden Homes Management Corp. v. Fairfield Town Plan & Zoning Comm’n, 191 Conn. App. 736, cert. denied, 333 Conn. ___ (2019), the Appellate Court unanimously held that:
Garden Homes is a second-generation business in Stamford that develops rental buildings and manufactured housing communities. In 2014, Garden Homes sought permission to build a ninety-five unit apartment building in the Southport section of Fairfield – an area with no affordable housing in a town with hardly any. The defendant denied the application because the driveway supposedly would be too narrow for fire truck access (though it is as wide as the Fire Safety Code requires). The Superior Court sustained Garden Homes’ appeal, but remanded the case because the defendant had refused to consider a slight revised application. Instead, the defendant accepted a boatload of new evidence and denied the revised application based on a mish-mash of new and previously-rejected concerns. The Superior Court sustained Garden Homes’ appeal again and ordered approval of its revised application.
The Appellate Court affirmed. In a ringing endorsement of the importance of affordable housing, the Court “not[ed] that the record is replete with evidence of the need for affordable housing in Fairfield. This need has persisted for decades.” None of the defendant’s concerns – some speculative, other parochial – outweigh that dire need. Moreover, the defendant “was not entitled to treat the court’s limited remand order as a second bite at the apple.” Ample evidence supported “the adequacy of the revised turnaround area[,]” and the mere possibility that it could be difficult to turn around does not rise to the necessary level of probable harm.
Daniel J. Krisch, Chair of Halloran Sage’s Appellate Practice Group, and his partners, Mark K. Branse, and Kenneth R. Slater, Jr., represented Garden Homes.