Windsor supports reduced-density housing project

In a sign of a rebound in the construction of single-family homes, developers on Wednesday proposed as many as 90 new houses on land just north of Windsor's Wal-Mart, in a presentation greeted with enthusiasm by most of the Town Council.

Council members on a 4-1 vote gave tentative approval for the new version of "Hembree Village" to go forward, significant not only for what it says about an improving construction outlook, but for the return to the single-family detached homes that defined the housing boom in Windsor 20 years ago.

"It's a great project to get the housing market going again," said Mayor Robin Goble. "There's very little inventory in Windsor for this style.

"I'm glad to see the wheels are turning again in the development community," she said.

Developers acknowledged they may have surprised a lot of people by asking for a reduction in density on the 18-acre site, since several years ago the property owner was granted building allocations for 208 units, consisting of a three-story, 120-unit senior apartment complex and 88 "duets" and single-family homes.

But changing market conditions and apprehension that the town may have too many apartment projects in the pipeline has changed the climate in Windsor, which in the past dozen years has emphasized compact, higher density residences.

"I'm a little surprised I'm OK with this," said Councilwoman Debora Fudge, who has championed "smart growth" like the townhomes built over storefronts that define Town Green Village.

But she said the solar power arrays that will be included on all houses in Hembree Village appeal to her and the project will blend in with the existing single-family home neighborhood just to the north.

Fudge said it is also farther away from the transit hub and station on the other side of Windsor that eventually will be served by passenger trains, in an area that is designated for higher population density.

Councilman Sam Salmon, the only dissenting voice on Wednesday, said "our needs are not really for market rate (housing) now."

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