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Affordable housing hearing set for April 12

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KENT—The Board of Selectmen will hold a public hearing on April 12 at 7 p.m. at Kent Town Hall to discuss the possible transfer of 1.159 acres of town-owned land on Maple St. to Kent Affordable Housing as the site for additional affordable housing.

Kent Town Hall is located at 41 Kent Green Blvd. The meeting will also be available via Zoom by clicking here.

First Selectman Marty Lindenmayer said that the hearing will discuss a resolution that would authorize transfer of the property to Kent Affordable House (KAH) and give townspeople a chance to ask specific questions about the proposal. “We could have gone directly a town meeting,” he said, “but I thought it was important enough that we should give people the opportunity to discuss it.”

A town meeting to approve the conditional transfer will be held April 26. “It’s a little like the chicken and the egg,” Lindenmayer said. “KAH can’t go ahead with its planning if it doesn’t know whether it can have the property.”

The organization will still have to gain Inland Wetlands Commission for the proposed use of the site as well as Planning and Zoning Commission approval of its site plan.

Planning and Zoning has already looked at the proposal and decided it is consistent with the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development. Approval of the conditional agreement will allow KAH to acquire the parcel after all land use approvals are received would allow KAH to apply to the Department of Housing via its Development Engagement for state and federal funding.

If the parcel fails to get IWC and PZC approval, it would revert to town ownership.

Kent Affordable Housing, which currently has 38 affordable housing units in the community, is seeking the site adjacent to its 24-unit South Commons development to construct another 10 units.

The 1.159 acres is located between the Kent Common Park parking lot (next to the tennis courts), the highway department and the existing South Common apartments. KAH hired Cardinal Engineering, a firm the town has worked with often, to assess the infrastructure capacity of South Common and the suitability of the adjacent land for development. It found that there is sufficient water and sewer capacity at South Common to serve the additional units. 

KAH cites data released in September 2023 that shows 39 percent of Kent households—some 495—qualify for affordable housing, and 128 households are severely burdened, paying more than 50 percent of their income for housing. In late 2023, there were 60 applicants on its waiting list. 

The lack of affordable housing has a ripple effect through the community as businesspeople struggle to find employees able to live and work within the town, young families search for suitable housing and senior citizens are stymied in their desire to downsize.

Data shows that Kent has become one of the towns with the oldest populations in Connecticut and the second oldest in Litchfield County, with a median age of 56.6. This may be because Baby Boomers are aging in place, because younger families cannot afford to live here, or a combination of factors.

Anecdotal evidence indicates many younger adults may still be living with their parents because of the lack of housing stock or that they cannot afford to move back to their native town.

Kathryn Boughton
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