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Letter: Four Reasons Why Arbor Haven Makes Sense for Woodbridge

I was very happy to read that the Board of Selectmen will be putting the Arbor Haven offer to purchase the old Country Club of Woodbridge (CCOW) for $9M to the voters of Woodbridge for a decision.  The Arbor Haven development makes good financial and social sense for Woodbridge.  Here are four reasons why:

Reason #1 The sale of the CCOW will significantly improve our town’s balance sheet and avoid raising our taxes.  The $9M purchase price would completely wipe out the remaining town debt of $3.5M related to the town’s purchase of the CCOW.  It leaves our town with $5.5M which we can use to retire other debt or fund projects that would have required raising our taxes without this sale.

Reason #2 Arbor Haven will increase our annual revenue net of expenses, again help to avoid raising our taxes.  The project builds 145 housing units with an expected tax revenue for the town of $2.7M.  72 of these homes are not age restricted and could have school age children.  Both of the Arbor Haven proposals grossly overstate the actual ratio of school children per household.  They said that they did this to be conservative, but it has caused some real confusion as to how many additional students we could expect in Woodbridge schools.  2020 US Census data shows that Woodbridge school age children are 17.4% of our population or a bit more than half a child per household.  This is slightly higher than the Connecticut percentage of school age children in the population which is 15.3%.  If we multiply the 72 homes that can have children by 0.6 a realistic estimate of additional students in the school system is 43 more students.  Using the highest estimate of per child school cost I have seen in these discussions ($20,000 per child) our school cost rises by $860K.  Our net annual gain to the town is over $1.8M per year.

Reason #3 This project gets us on the road to complying with our required share of affordable housing.  Woodbridge has a legal requirement to offer more diverse and affordable housing options.  A percentage of these new homes will be priced to be affordable at 60-80 percent of our area median income (AMI).  Moving forward demonstrates our commitment to meeting our obligation to provide affordable housing in our community.  The project also has smaller homes designated for seniors, which give current residents an opportunity to stay in town and downsize from their larger homes.

Reason #4 Woodbridge already has hundreds of acres of farm and forest land protected from development.  The proposed development site has a dilapidated structure from the 1970s on a failed country club with an unmaintained golf course – not a colonial farm with historic buildings or a pristine forest.  Even with the new proposed housing development, 50 of the 150 acres come back to the town as open space with trails and amenities for the community.

Robert Sharrer

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