Action Center

Vote No on Letting Hartford Design Our Cities

HB 6890 places expansive zoning authority in an unelected government official, increases state spending, and imposes further central planning on local development. The bill would give priority funding state discretionary grants based on standards that are not consistent with state law or planning best practices for transit-oriented development (TOD), which calls for a mix of uses and development within a half mile of high-quality transit. 

Nearly every town and city in Connecticut, would need to fundamentally change their housing development in order for the state to support its effort to clean up any previous contamination sites under brownfield remediation or for the expansion of public infrastructure. This may disincentivize local communities from making informed investments in these areas even though the evidence does not suggest that TOD is viable in most of the state as residents will only walk or take transit to jobs, services, and retail if those uses are also in walking distance of their homes and transit stations. 

Many of the terms in the bill will be defined by a “coordinator” in a new and expanded Office of Responsible Growth. This unelected position would have the authority to determine if a municipality is located within a “reasonable distance” of a “qualifying bus transit community,” what a “reasonable size is for a municipality to be required to increase the density of its housing, what “discretionary infrastructure funds” should be allocated to municipalities for various developments, and what constitutes “excessive lot sizes,” amongst other discretions. His individual, that is not elected by any Connecticut voters, would be able to change housing density in a municipality if they decide the location fits within an arbitrary distance from a “qualifying bus transit community.” This shift in policymaking would wrest planning and zoning decisions out of the hands of locally elected officials who most directly reflect the preferences of local communities. 

As a clear way to reshape local communities, municipalities that do not opt in would lose priority under state funding. This may negatively affect those municipalities and their residents in ways beyond just the immediate zoning concerns in this bill 􏰟 will these municipalities also be less likely to access the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, the Public Water System Improvement Grant Program, the Clean Water Fund, the Urban Act, the Small Town Economic Assistance Program, etc.? Again, much of this being determined by an unelected “coordinator.” 

Any municipality that adopts a resolution to abide by the bill’s regulations and fails to implement them in a timely fashion would have to return “any discretionary infrastructure funding,” unless the “coordinator” -- alone – grants an extension. The bill effectively requires a municipal legislative body to predetermine future decisions by a local zoning commission. Unless provided by special act, municipal legislative bodies do not have this authority. 

Municipalities that implement “specific additional bonus zoning criteria” beyond what is outlined in the bill shall be eligible for additional funding based on the “coordinator’s” discretion. The bill does not specify what thes “specific” criteria are, as they are to be determined by the “coordinator.” 

HB 6890 gives too much discretion to the “coordinator” of a new state agency within the Office of Policy Management and attempts to reshape every community in Connecticut. 

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