On September 12, the Mansfield Planning and Zoning Commission will temporarily stop receiving applications to establish or expand multi-family housing developments. This is due to a unanimous vote by the commission to pass a nine month moratorium on these developments in order to allow time to update regulations.
The commission is trying to update regulations in order to align itself more efficiently with the Mansfield Tomorrow Plan of Conservation and Development, which lists goals for the town, including how to improve quality of life. A lot of the talk leading up to the vote concerned the University of Connecticut and students living off-campus, many of whom live in these multi-family developments. Mansfield mayor Paul Shapiro mentioned that while many UConn students are good neighbors, the inappropriate behavior, including loud parties and intoxication, of a minority of students reduces the town's quality of life. However, there are no complaints about parties or noise from students in the Plan of Conservation and Development. This proves that the supposed problem with college students disrupting the standard of living is either newly formed or not widely felt throughout the community.
This moratorium will affect many current projects. There are plans for a new apartment complex on King Hill Road, and this decision could delay their construction by up to two years. This development would allow students to rent individual rooms in two to four bedroom apartments, but it has yet to be approved under the current regulations. Susan Hays, the spokesperson for Wilmorite and the project’s developer, requested to be exempt from the moratorium due to timing. It would need to go online at the beginning of the fall semester in order to make a profit. Due to environmental arguments and current issues with regulations, many Mansfield residents and members of the commission are against this. Yet the development would provide housing near campus that would prevent students from moving into more residential areas, so allowing this project to continue would be in favor of those who agree with mayor Shapiro.
The moratorium will not affect what the university does with the land it already owns. However, it is important to provide students with a variety of on-campus and off-campus housing, to accommodate the needs of the diverse student body. Hopefully the new regulations that the commission makes will work with the needs of the expanding university to provide a variety of off-campus options that will not affect the quality of life for the residents of Mansfield.
Alyssa Luis is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus opinion section. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.