The Connecticut Zoning Atlas is an interactive online map that shows which types of housing is allowed in each town throughout the state of Connecticut. The project, spearheaded by University of Connecticut land-use professor Sara Bronin and the Connecticut Data Collective, allows residents to visualize how the state’s 2,620 zoning districts regulate housing, including minimum lot size, floor area requirements, single and multi-family zoning regulations, and codes regarding accessory dwelling units, among others. (Bloomberg.com, 2021)
Through the Atlas, Bronin hopes to illuminate much of the obscurity surrounding zoning codes, obscurity which has led to zoning segregation, where lower-income families are often left with few affordable options when it comes to housing. (today.uccon.edu, 2021)
Once all the data from across the state was compiled, it was found that over 90% of Connecticut is zoned only for single family housing, and that 80% of residential land requires one acre, about the size of a football field, for each house. Moreover, for any zoning change to occur, public hearings must be held, a process that significantly slows down any move towards multifamily housing. While public hearings are often useful tools that give members of a community a say in how their neighborhoods are developed, they can also lead to stagnation and become impediments to zoning amendments that could potentially create more affordable housing.
Given the affordable housing crisis nationwide, Bronin hopes that Connecticut’s Zoning Atlas can be adopted by more states in an effort to make zoning laws more transparent, an effort that could hopefully lead to more equitable housing distribution.