Missing Middle Housing and How It Benefits Cities and Towns

missing middle housingFrom attracting talented professionals to lowering living costs and allowing for mixed-use development, missing middle housing addresses many issues and alleviates some pressing challenges facing cities and towns today. Overall, missing middle housing encompasses a broad range of dwelling types. In general, these are buildings with multiple units located in easily walkable neighborhoods. For many cities, these can be workable solutions to existing residential neighborhoods. Moreover, they are affordable to low- and middle-income residents, addressing the housing crisis.  Keep reading to learn more about missing middle housing and how it benefits cities and their residents.

What Is Missing Middle Housing?

Broadly speaking, the missing middle is composed of diverse housing types that fall into the category between single family dwellings and larger apartment buildings with many units. Missing middle units are similar in scale to single-family homes, addressing space limitations. They include duplexes, multiplexes, cottage courts, and townhomes. These types of dwellings allow for urban areas that are less dense, more walkable, and offer more open spaces.

Why Is Missing Middle Housing Needed?

Currently, there is a growing gap between upcoming demographics and available housing options. If missing middle housing were built, it would offer an affordable alternative. Those who work in the city could purchase property, build equity-based wealth, and still live affordably. In addition to greater affordability, missing middle housing also addresses housing demand. Since many aspiring homeowners are priced out of the market, they must keep renting for years. Likewise, the available options for low-priced housing tend to be farther away from urban centers with little access to public transportation. This mismatch between the demand and city-based options is substantial. Moreover, smaller multi-unit dwellings support walkability and keep spending in the local economy. By creating housing options in urban spaces, consumers can utilize public transportation more effectively. Thus, residents would save on transportation expenses and build equity in their new homes.

Who Benefits the Most From Missing Middle Housing?

Those looking for moderate or lower-priced housing would benefit from missing middle housing. These types of multi-unit housing use existing space more efficiently, reducing cost per square foot. Additionally, many creative professionals are not interested in traditional living. As a result, they are willing to live with simplified or downsized amenities. For example, many are looking for a car-free lifestyle, which is impossible in the suburbs. Empty-nesters looking to downsize after their children have left home can benefit from smaller space and reduced expenses. At the moment, these populations often do not have effective options available in cities and larger towns. Missing middle housing options can help to ensure that low and moderate income residents of a city can find affordable housing and remain there where they are close to transportation, jobs and other benefits of urban living.

What is Norwalk Doing to Address Missing Middle Housing?

Norwalk is currently evaluating its accessory dwelling unit regulations to potentially allow more flexibility in how these units are developed. In addition, as part of the comprehensive rewrite of the zoning regulations, the City is considering freeing up certain portions of the smaller-lot, single-family zones, to allow for 2-family dwellings. 

Industrial Waterfront Land Use Plan Public Meeting

Industrial Waterfront Land Use Plan Public Meeting

May 9, 2022 6:00 - 8:00 PM Norwalk 's Planning & Zoning Department has teamed up with Utile, an Architecture & Planning firm from Boston to help guide future land use around the Norwalk Harbor. This meeting will focus on the public feedback that has been received and the results of what land use scenarios are preferred. Some of you may have participated via virtual - social pinpoint map, in-person posters, or at the 1st public engagement meeting. Come see how your preferred choices transpired among others! To register on zoom REGISTER NOW  
 

Plan De Uso Del Industrial Waterfront reunión de participación pública #2 ¡Únase a nosotros en Zoom!

El Departamento de Planificación y Zonificación de Norwalk se ha asociado con Utile, una firma de Arquitectura y Planificación de Boston para ayudar a guiar el futuro uso de la tierra alrededor del puerto de Norwalk. Esta reunión se centrará en los comentarios del público que se han recibido y los resultados de qué escenarios de uso de la tierra se prefieren. Es posible que algunos de ustedes hayan participado a través de un mapa virtual de puntos sociales, carteles en persona o en la primera reunión de participación pública. ¡Ven a ver cómo transcurrieron tus elecciones preferidas entre otras! Para registrarse en zoom, visite el enlace a continuación: Regístrate ahora  

2022 Neighborhood Assistance Act Proposals Due 5:00 pm

2022 NEIGHBORHOOD ASSISTANCE ACT If you are a non-profit organization who conducts a program in Norwalk, CT then you might be interested in participating in Connecticut’s Department of Revenue Services’ Neighborhood Assistance Act (NAA). To participate, an organization must complete Form NAA-01 , the program proposal application. Norwalk Redevelopment Agency will be accepting completed forms on behalf of the City of Norwalk. The deadline to email a form to Katie O’Leary at koleary@norwalkct.org is 5:00 p.m. May 6, 2022.   The fillable Form NAA-01 is now available and can be access by following the link below or visiting the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services’ website or Norwalk Redevelopment Agency’s website.   APPLICATION: Form NAA-01  Connecticut’s Neighborhood Assistance Act program provides a tax credit to businesses that make cash investments in qualifying community programs conducted by tax exempt or municipal agencies. The community programs must be approved by both the municipality in which the programs are conducted and by Connecticut’s Department of Revenue Services.  A tax exempt organization that is interested in participating in the NAA Program must first complete in its entirety Form NAA-01. This form must be submitted to the municipality where the tax exempt organization’s program is conducted. All approved applications will then be sent to the CT Department of Revenue for another round of reviews.  Businesses wishing to participate must complete Form NAA-02 and submit it directly to the Department of Revenue Services between September 15th and October 1st. Organizations whose program proposal application has been approved by DRS are welcome to encourage businesses to consider sponsoring their program and inform them to submit Form NAA-02 electronically when it becomes available on the DRS website.  Additional information about the Neighborhood Assistance Act for both organizations and businesses is available on the Department of Revenue Services’ website  and by calling 860-297-5687 or emailing naaprogram@ct.gov . If you have questions about submitting an application to Norwalk, please contact Katie at  koleary@norwalkct.org Completed program proposal applications must be sent via email to koleary@norwalkct.org before 5 p.m. on May 6, 2022.  

Virtual Public Meeting #2 Harbor Loop Trail / SoNo Wharf

Virtual Public Meeting #2
Harbor Loop Trail / SoNo Wharf
6:00 PM Via Zoom Join us for our second public discussion about completing parts of the Harbor Loop Trail / SoNo Wharf in Norwalk. Completing segments will provide green space along the riverfront for pedestrian use and activity, improve connection to and within the urban core neighborhoods, and improve connection to local natural resources. Following our last discussion on 2/9, we have fine-tuned our design concepts using your feedback. Attendees will have the opportunity to view updated concepts, ask questions, share ideas, and provide feedback.
Zoom Webinar Link:https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_FhiE1DfjRUGmKOFFg9ARXg

Existing and Proposed Trails

                 
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Norwalk, CT Merges Separate Planning & Zoning Commissions

Norwalk planning & zoning commissionThe City of Norwalk is making improvements for the future by merging the city’s separate Zoning and Planning Commissions. It’s an opportunity to streamline decision making and provide better coordination between long-term planning and the codes enacted to realize the vision of the plans.  Keep reading to learn more about the merging of Norwalk’s Planning & Zoning Commission.

Recent CT State Land Use Planning Changes

A lot happened during the last year related to Land Use Planning in the State of CT. The Connecticut General Assembly presented more critical land use and statewide zoning proposals than they have in decades.  The bills that obtained approval from the House, Senate, and Governor’s office were scaled-back versions of these proposals. Still, they received much media attention, and for a good reason. They were important rulings that will affect our city.

Why the Change in Norwalk?

Some Connecticut towns have already combined their Planning and Zoning commissions. The new structure of Norwalk’s Planning & Zoning Commission supports an efficient and collaborative working relationship. For instance, New Haven’s Planning commission has also combined the duties and responsibilities of P&Z. However, areas like Danbury and Stamford continue to run separate city Planning and Zoning commissions. For some time, the City of Norwalk had also run separate Planning and Zoning commissions. The general agreement was that the separation resulted in a disconnect between planning, land use policy, and city zoning and created additional work for applicants to both commissions.

Benefits of the Planning &  Zoning Commission Merger

Historically, a third or more of the Planning Commission’s workflow came from the Zoning Commission. This process often added one to two months to the approval process, hindering development in the city. Now, applicants will save considerable time and costs without the need to present requests to both commissions. The union of the planning and zoning commissions also creates a more consistent planning relationship. It gives the Commission increased jurisdiction. That broadened authority enables them to support consistency with citywide planning.

What to Expect from Norwalk’s Unified P&Z Commission

In the past, the Planning Commission and Zoning Commission successfully executed their distinct functions. Together, P&Z can coordinate to promote greater efficiency and growth for the Norwalk economy. New members of the merged P&Z group have been selected. Currently, the City is rewriting its zoning regulations, which is set to be completed later this year.. Other land use efforts underway in Norwalk, CT are a reassessment of its industrial zones and developing a plan for its urban waterfront areas. You can stay updated on Norwalk Planning and Zoning Department news by visiting the official website. The City of Norwalk welcomes your questions and feedback. Please feel free to contact us with your inquiries.

Community Development Block Grant Application Due Date

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program Year 48 (PY48)
As administrator of the City of Norwalk’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency is pleased to release the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the upcoming CDBG program year (PY48).
The City and Redevelopment Agency invite all interested parties to submit PY48 CDBG sub-award applications to the Redevelopment Agency by the deadline.
Application due date: 12:00 (noon) January 20. 2022.
Application information and instructionsnorwalkredevelopmentagency.org
CDBG PY48 NOFA:
Questions: Stephen Ivan at sivan@norwalkct.org and Carly Kramer at ckramer@norwalkct.org.

South Norwalk Train Station Area Study Public Meeting

Join a brief presentation followed by a community conversation on plan recommendations for the South Norwalk Train Station Area Study including:
  • Neighborhood and station integration and connectivity
  • Development opportunities for sites adjacent to the train station
Additional project details can be found at:
The meeting will be held virtually. See link below.
Meeting Link:
Or, head to https://zoom.us/join and enter:
Webinar ID: 875 1346 7788
Passcode: 084063
Via one-tap mobile:
+16465588656,,87513467788#

Norwalk, CT Holds Charrette on Revising Its Building Zone Regulations

Norwalk Charrette on Zoning RegulationsThis fall, the City of Norwalk held a charrette focused on rewriting and modernizing its building zone regulations which lasted over the course of five days. A charrette is a collaborative planning process that involves all stakeholders and this one was open virtually to the public. 

Norwalk embarked on a building zone regulation update following its ten-year Citywide Plan in 2019. One of the Plan’s recommendations was to take a fresh look at the city’s zoning regulations, which have not been thoroughly reviewed nor revised in 30 years. The charrette was part of a greater public outreach process to educate local citizens on the zoning code and get their input and feedback on what works and what needs to be changed.

How the Virtual Charrette Worked

​​During the charrette, the community learned about the city’s current zoning regulations. In a series of online focus meetings, stakeholders shared their hopes and concerns about how the new regulations may affect things such as transportation, architecture and design, community character, land use, development, neighborhoods, housing, green infrastructure, sustainability, and most desirably its waterfront charm.   For those who couldn’t make it to one of the meetings, an online virtual open studio was available for much of the day where people could join and ask questions, or share their thoughts on zoning.  Another way the city was able to get input from the public during the charrette was through a virtual mapping workshop. Using an online tool, people were able to access a map of the city and add markers to indicate what they liked about the character of Norwalk and their thoughts on opportunities for improvement. 

Findings from the Charrette

As mentioned in a report from The Norwalk Hour, “if one word was said more often than any other word this week, it was character. We heard from people wanting to maintain the marine character. Views of the water are important.”  On the final evening of the virtual charrette, the planning team presented their findings and discussed how the community input is shaping the new Building Zone Regulations in several areas. Here are some of their findings. 

Housing

During the charrette, people asked for a greater variety of housing types in more locations. Allowing for multifamily and accessory dwelling units that fit into the character of single family neighborhoods. Part of this is an expressed need and desire for more affordable workforce housing.

Sustainability and the Environment

Important to charrette attendees is the maintenance of the maritime character of the city, and the need to preserve water views. The protection of natural resources and the coastline is also a public concern.  Attendees talked frequently about the need for green infrastructure such as permeable pavement, accessibility for bicycling and pedestrians, solar power, green roofs, and sustainable stormwater solutions.

Industry and the Economy

While open, green space and preserving the character of neighborhoods were important to charrette attendees, there was discussion about protecting some industrial zones. There was a call to look at other locations for these zones than where they are currently.  The biggest concern with industrial zones was the need to address the contractor yards in these neighborhoods and adjacent to homes. There is a Norwalk Industrial Zones Study underway which is taking a look at these issues.   Also of importance for attendees was protecting water dependent commercial uses while still allowing for public access to the water. Currently, the city is working on an Industrial Waterfront Land Use Plan to guide decisions on the best uses of Norwalk’s waterfront resources. Overall, the public wanted to retain, grow, and attract a wide range of businesses, allowing for various commercial building types that are more compatible in more areas.

Mobility and Transportation

Managing all modes of transportation was a critical concern for attendees, especially making land use decisions that support and improve walking, biking, and public transit.  Parking was brought up as having an impact on the character, walkability and desirability of the community. There were presentations on shifting parking lots to be hidden and interspersed among businesses as attendees expressed an interest in a review of parking standards.

Next Steps in the Zoning Regulations Update

The zoning regulations planning team is taking all the feedback from the charrette and drafting new regulations. The intention is to simplify what is now a complicated document, and consolidate some of the zoning districts.  The overall policy will be to take a character-based approach to zoning. This means grouping zones together that are similar, and creating character districts where certain building types are appropriate for each district, while taking into consideration policies such as open space and commercial uses, etc.  Residents, businesses and others in the community will have the opportunity to review and provide feedback to the draft, continuing the important public input to ensure the new regulations take into account all who live and work in Norwalk.  To see videos from the Charrette Presentations CLICK HERE 

East Norwalk Transit Oriented Development Public Hearings

SPECIAL MEETING AGENDA PLANNING COMMISSION & ZONING COMMISSION CITY OF NORWALK, CT

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2021 – 6:00 P.M.

* VIRTUAL MEETING TO BE HELD ONLINE *

Public Participation instructions below!

  I. CALL TO ORDER II. ROLL CALL III. PUBLIC HEARINGS a. #2021-20 R/M – Zoning Commission – Building Zone Regulation Text Amendment and Zoning Map Change to create the East Norwalk Village TOD Zone (EVTZ) IV. DISCUSSION a. Accessory Apartment regulations because of Public Act #21-29 V. ADJOURNMENT Links to agenda materials: To allow Public Access, anyone may access this meeting by telephone, Zoom, and/or the City of Norwalk YouTube Channel. Specific instructions and links can be found at: https://www.norwalkct.org/1913/Meeting-Notices Telephone access (Listening only)
  • Dial: (646) 558-8656
  • Enter webinar ID: 851 5843 5871
The Public may watch this meeting at: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85158435871 For those that wish to view, but are not participating, the Live Stream can be seen on the City of Norwalk YouTube channel. PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO SCHEDULING CONFLICTS IT IS NOT GUARANTEED THAT A LIVE YOUTUBE STREAM WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR THIS MEETING, PLEASE USE THE ZOOM LINK ABOVE TO WATCH THE MEETING IF NO YOUTUBE STREAM IS AVAILABLE: norwalkct.org/youtube This meeting will also be recorded and a copy of the audio recording will be posted on the City’s website within seven (7) days after the meeting. Members of the public who wish to provide public comment are encouraged to submit those via email in advance of the meeting to skleppin@norwalkct.org. For these comments to be read into the record, they should be submitted at least three hours in advance of the meeting start time.

Norwalk Zoning Regulations Virtual Charrette Focus Meetings and Virtual Studio

View Details & Zoom Link Here