In 2009 the Town of Canaan/Falls Village received a grant of $43,000 from the CT Department of Housing (DOH) to conduct an Incentive Housing Zone Study, including identifying a suitable site for an Incentive Housing Zone (IHZ). At least six possible sites were considered. The three most promising properties had surveys and soil testing done. The River Road property owned by Habitat for Humanity was the only site that met the necessary criteria (large enough to accommodate a multi-family development, capable of an independent well system, appropriate soil type) for an IHZ. In December 2013, after a multi-step certifying process with the DOH and proper notice for town citizen participation, the FV Planning and Zoning Commission amended the town zoning regulations to include the 66 acres of the Habitat land on River Road as IHZ.
The Falls Village Hosing Trust, Inc. (FVHT), is a private 501.c.3 run by a volunteer Board of local residents, and was formed on September 13, 2016 in response to the request for a non-municipal organization to be establish housing on the IHZ. The FVHT has an executed legal agreement with Habitat to buy a 10-acre portion of the IHZ property for construction of rental housing.
River Road Homes will represent an addition to our grand list. Growing the grand list is how a town lowers their Mill Rate. While a 501.c.3 is exempt from income tax, most are not exempt from property tax unless they are granted a waiver by the municipality. River Road Homes will pay local property taxes and contribute to the Town’s revenue and operating costs.
Both our high school and elementary school have room in every grade level to accommodate more students. A larger peer group will be positive for students and the Town’s per student cost at Kellogg School would be reduced because a larger pool would share the fixed costs.
People who earn less than 80 percent of the area median income (AMI), which is $78,500 for a family of four. Examples of typical tenants could be our adult sons and daughters who want to stay here and build careers or return after college, military service or other endeavors, older folks who don’t want the burden of home ownership, single parents and young families who would like to save and purchase a home in the area.
The original proposal submitted by the FVHT to P&Z last year was for 24 units. In response to residents’ input the FVHT voluntarily revised the new application; downsizing it to 16 units, moving back buildings 90 feet back from the road, and created an illustration of the native plantings that will be planted around the complex creating an attractive natural visual buffer.
Affordable rental housing keeps members of our community in town rather than moving where there are more rentals. Housing developments like ours have flourished in Litchfield, Norfolk, Salisbury, Sharon, Cornwall and Kent for decades and are an essential element of any sustainable community.
River Road Homs is a much-needed addition to Falls Village’s housing inventory.