Planning and Development Committee mulls opt-in program to build housing near transit stations

The Planning and Development Committee heard arguments for a proposed bill, which aims to address Connecticut's housing crisis by encouraging more housing near transit stations and provide an incentive to towns.
Under the bill, towns would be able to opt-into the program in order to get certain funding, so long as they build enough housing for residents near transit stations.
Under this proposal, towns that opt-in would have access to state funds for infrastructure improvements such as bike infrastructure, pedestrian safety measures or remediation for brownfields, which are sites such as former gas stations, or laundromats that have been polluted.
There are many supporters of the bill, who say this is the best solution for a dire crisis. However, there are others who oppose the bill, saying it is too much, and could deprive small towns of necessary funding.
"They will lose state funding for their infrastructure, sewers, roads and schools," said Matthew Mendall, chair of Westport Planning and Zoning committee. "That is not an opt-in, that's a mandate."
Gov. Ned Lamont asked those who oppose the issue to tell him what they are looking for.
"We're desperately short...of a housing in this state. Especially of workforce housing," said Lamont. "If you have a better solution, come to the table."
Many people at Wednesday's hearing said they saw the bill paving a path toward staying in the state as a possibility for younger generations.
"I would like to see more of our generation, my generation, staying in the state post-grad," said Mitchel Kvedar, a student at the University of Connecticut.
"Transit oriented communities is what Connecticut needs to keep young people like me from relocating and encourage the arrival of future residents," said Elena Brennan, with Desegregate Connecticut
The Planning and Development Committee will vote on whether to advance the bill to the full Connecticut House of Representatives. A similar bill failed last year.