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Letter: Why The Rush?

Fewer than half of Connecticut’s towns submitted a state-mandated housing plan by the deadline of June 1st.  Woodbridge met the deadline, but at the cost of by-passing any opportunity for meaningful resident input.  What was the rush?

The Housing Opportunity Study Committee worked with the regional Council of Governments (COG) in preparing the draft report.  Unfortunately, the COG failed to meet its deadline, causing the Woodbridge committee to be delayed in delivering a draft to the Board of Selectmen.  As originally planned, there would have been adequate time for the public to absorb the draft, offer comment, and then revise the report as appropriate.

Instead, our First Selectman offered the public just five days – FIVE DAYS – to review a report of almost 100 pages (including lots of data, tables and graphs/charts).  Over a dozen residents met this absurd deadline, asking for more time to review and comment on the lengthy report.  They also pointed out obvious errors and substantive concerns and questions.  The response?  All of the Democratic selectmen ignored the comments of their constituents and the obvious value of public input.  Instead, they voted to send the report to the state unchanged.

This disinterest in the people they represent and this disregard for accuracy is astounding.  Here are just a few problems with the draft – now final – report.  The report refers to the “State’s mandated 10% requirement” for affordable housing in contravention of our own Town Counsel’s acknowledgement that there is no such mandate.  It is alarming to find that the report doesn’t accurately reflect the law on which the report is based.  The report claims that more than one third of the town is open space, in direct contradiction to the Town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.  Further, the report lists “The United Church of Christ” as a potential location for affordable housing but fails to explain why the property of this religious institution is identified but not property owned by other religious institutions.

Our First Selectman now says she is proud to have submitted the report on time.  This shows she cares more about “checking the box” than achieving a publicly vetted and factually accurate housing plan that will benefit town decision-making going forward.

Amey Marrella

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