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By Kristin Grafft
The city of Norwalk continues to struggle with the state-mandated housing element due to opposition within the council against high-density housing and other requirements.
State housing laws require that every city adopt a plan “to ensure that housing for persons of all income levels is provided.”
Senior Planner Jessica Serrano said the Department of Housing and Community Development completed its review of Norwalk’s housing element draft in December.
According to Serrano, the HCD found the draft to be in compliance with State housing element laws, but “cannot find it to be in full compliance until the Housing Element is adopted and the City has enacted emergency shelter provisions.”
The revised housing element was presented to the council at the January 7 meeting in the hopes of getting it approved and adopted by the February 12 deadline. However, not all council members were so receptive to the plan.
Councilman Leonard Shryock argued that redevelopment would be “totally contrary to what is in the best interest of the city.” Saying that the redevelopments are very dense, vey crowded and lead to higher crime.
However, director of community development Kurt Anderson said that just because parts of the city would be rezoned for high-density housing it wouldn’t necessarily mean it would be redeveloped for it. There is no legal penalty should they not actually develop that land.
Shryock was still not satisfied though, saying that the scope of the policies were unclear and “fundamentally different than the ones presented in October”. He complained that they were being rushed to meet the deadline, leaving no “leeway to make adjustments.”
In the end, the council voted 3-2 to move forward with the proposed housing element and it is now tentatively scheduled to be voted on at the next meeting.
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