The Danbury Zoning Commission has signed off on a text amendment allowing transitional housing as a special exception use in a specific zone . Planning Director Sharon Calitro wrote to the Planning and Zoning Commissions noting that the proposed use is similar to others existing in the district including hotels, continuing care facilities and daycare facilities.
If a use is not specifically listed, it's not allowed under city ordinances.
Danbury was previously awarded a $1.3 million state grant to demolish and remediate the former Mallory Hat Factory on Rose Hill Avenue, paving the way for a transitional housing facility.
The Women's Center is seeking to build a facility that provides temporary lodging for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Preliminary plans call for private rooms, with bathrooms, for those seeking refuge. There would be congregate meal service, counseling and support services for temporary occupants to meet short and long term needs. Transitional housing would not considered a shelter for the homeless, which doesn't require private rooms or counseling.
City officials are also requiring that any project seeking the special exception as transitional housing meet seven additional regulations. They are that the facility be operated by a non-profit, exist on a lot at least 4 acres in size, be accessible from an arterial street, have connection to municipal sewer, have connection to municipal water, meet additional landscaping requirements, and have no more than 20 beds. The bed maximum is the same for a shelter.
Mayor Mark Boughton believes a viaduct under the property is near 100 years old. He says no business is likely to be interested in the land because they wouldn't be able to build over that structure. The viaduct limits the build-ability to about 2.5 acres. Danbury issued several requests for proposals from businesses over the years, but there weren't any takers.
The Women's Center raised $4 million in capital fund to build the transitional housing. The group has provided a safe haven to victims of domestic and sexual violence since its founding in 1975. The Center serves 20,000 people in northern Fairfield and southern Litchfield Counties each year.