Connecticut Approves Statewide Zoning Reforms—Bill Awaits Governor's Signature

Advocates and political supporters are calling HB 1607 an incremental, first step, after the process of building a winning political coalition cut back some of the original ambition of the statewide zoning reform effort.

2 minute read

June 2, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Connecticut Capitol Building

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The Connecticut State Senate voted, 23-13, to approve HB 6107. The May 27 vote followed a week after approval by the state House of Representatives, which voted 84 – 59. The bill is now heading to Governor Ned Lamont, where it is expected to be signed.

An article by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas summarizes the zoning reforms included the bill:

The legislation would require towns to allow single-family homeowners to convert parts of their dwellings or detached garages into so-called accessory dwelling units, nicknamed “granny pods,” without needing special permission from local officials — but it allows towns to vote to opt out. The bill places limits on how many parking spaces a new home or apartment must have — but also allows towns to vote to opt out.

The article also summarizes "huge concessions" from the original legislation:

Language was scrapped that would have required towns to allow the construction of multi-unit housing around some train stations and suburban towns’ commercial centers, as well as language that would have specified to each town how many affordable units they must allow — but would leave it up to them and a monitor to ensure it happens.

Planetizen Editor Diana Ionescu reported on the details and ambitions of the state's efforts to preempt local zoning codes back in March. An article by Cate Hewitt from April documented the bill's evolution and progress as it made its way through the state's General Assembly. 

Sara Bronin, one of the founders of Desegregate CT, the advocacy organization that crafted the legislation after raising attention about the dominance of single-family residential zones in the state, also took to Twitter to provide an explanation of the bill in its final form, in addition to addressing the "more incremental" accomplishments of the bill in its final form. Bronin also argues that those incremental achievements—like legalized accessory dwelling units, reduced parking minimum, a model form-based code, a complete streets code, a ban an source of income discrimination, and an end to multi-family housing caps, among others—are significant.

Friday, May 28, 2021 in Hartford Courant

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