Rep. O’Dea Opposes Omnibus Housing Bill, Protects Local Control

Posted on June 5, 2023


During a House session spanning into the early morning hours, lawmakers debated an omnibus housing bill, S.B. 998, which featured some aspects of “Fair Share” and other state mandates that attempt to undermine local control of zoning.

Due to pushback from the public and many Fairfield County legislators, the bill that eventually passed was stripped of many of its enforcement mechanisms and instead empowers the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) to conduct studies on each city or town’s demand for affordable housing and use the data to offer recommendations on new developments.

The initial projections for communities like New Canaan recommend nearly 20% increases in housing inventory, or over 1700 new units – with no guarantee that they will be “affordable.” New Canaan and Darien are similar highly developed communities (over 99% each) and cannot sustain these levels of proposed increases.

S.B. 998 – An Act Establishing a Tax Abatement for Certain Conservation Easements – was never intended to contain language on affordable housing, but majority legislators forced it into an amendment after midnight on Saturday.

The bill passed by a narrow margin. Find the vote tally here.

After the amendment was adopted, I spoke to remind the House that our highly developed communities in lower Fairfield County are committed to increasing our affordable housing stock but these punitive mandates are only attempting to scare our towns. Watch my full comments:

I voted no on the amendment and the bill as they are ineffective in bolstering our housing stock and put our cities and towns further under the thumb of state government.