Two new affordable, two-family homes are coming to the Dixwell neighborhood thanks to the efforts of a local faith-based development company that specializes in affordable housing.
During Wednesday night’s regular monthly meeting of the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) in the basement of 200 Orange St., Darrel Brooks, the chief operating officer of the Beulah Land Development Corporation, presented his nonprofit’s plans to construct two two-family homes at 684 Orchard St. and 335 Munson St.
The BZA unanimously voted to grant Brooks’s organization a variance to permit a two-family dwelling on a non-conforming vacant lot at 684 Orchard where a maximum of one dwelling unit is allowed by zoning law.
The board also granted Beulah a variance to permit side yards of three feet and seven feet where eight feet and ten feet are required respectively for the organization’s planned gut rehab of a currently vacant two-family home at 335 Munson.
After the meeting, Brooks said that Beulah plans to begin construction on both projects within the next four to six weeks. He said that both two-family homes will be made available for home ownership for residents earning up to 80 percent of the area median income (AMI).
Beulah Land is affiliated with Beulah Heights Pentecostal Church just up the block at 782 Orchard St. The church’s nonprofit development wing has already transformed former crack houses on the block into stable homes, and has its eyes on building 70 new mostly lower-income apartments on the long-vacant Joe Grate’s automotive and ribs business lot at 340 Dixwell Ave.
Beulah needed a variance to build a two-family home at 684 Orchard because the lot’s current width is 40 feet, which is ten feet less than the 50-foot average lot width requirement for two-family homes in a RM-2 (high-middle density residential) zone.
The organization also needed a variance for its planned two-family home at 335 Munson because zoning law requires a minimum side yard widths of eight and ten feet. Brooks’s application says that Beulah plans to build dormers on both sides of the third story of the existing structure “to allow for more living space and easier access to the third floor by increasing the height above the staircase.”
The application says that “the proposed dormer will remain within the original footprint of the structure and will not increase the overall height of the building.”
BZA Chair Pat King moved to approve both applications, which her three colleagues on the board voted to do. King noted that both non-conforming sites predate the zoning ordinance and that both multi-family projects are consistent with the predominantly multi-family housing in the surrounding area, as well as with the New Haven Vision 2025 comprehensive plan, which encourages “appropriately higher housing densities on certain existing, non-conforming properties located within RM-1 and RM-2 districts.”