Roughly: a town is generally allowed to decide what can and cannot be built within it, however, the state provides some constraints on "home rule". While wetland and other environmental regulation is really obvious, some states require towns to not block all affordable housing; towns which have too little affordable housing are might find themselves forced by courts to permit a development they had said no to. The details, obviously, matter a lot.
The wikipedia entry on "Inclusionary Zoning" mentions the NJ and MA laws, as well as other ordinances (not seeing any more at the state level, however), altho it does not provide the name of CT's law (anyone know of a book? Probably published by ULI or APA and horrifically overpriced, of course.).
Darien has now crossed the horizon of my attention a few too many times for doing things at the town level that I Do Not Approve Of.
The original Avalon incident:
There's lots of coverage if you feeling like sifting through it; I don't.
R. mentioned some story about Don Henley and a parcel in Concord that avoided getting turned into multi-family. Here is contemporary coverage of it, naming the developer (who I will attempt to track next):
One of the better bits in Lucy's books was the remark about how liberals can sound incredibly conservative when you get into a zoning conversation. Before South Lake Union became, er, South Lake Union, there was a proposal to turn it into a massive park with some residential.
I remember some big arguments with N. a couple years later when I joined a little bookstore on the internet; he couldn't understand why Seattle had voted it down. The history link article in no way captures why _I_ was opposed to it: I'd read Jane Jacobs and I Did Not Approve of Big Parks as a result (yes, I did buy a condo across 15th from Volunteer Park, but I also recognize problems with that park and saw no reason to create more of the same).
I think I must just not understand why people are for or against various things. Henley rescuing Walden Woods -- at least for the various adulatory reasons given -- does not strike me as heroic. But then, my feelings about the literary movement centered on Concord are net negative and my capacity to desire to preserve anything statically is profoundly limited, so maybe that's just my bias.
ETA: Wow. People around here really don't like DeNormandie.
Actually, they just don't like development.
That's astonishingly silly coverage. 3 bedroom units for quite reasonable prices, and people think this is abusing 40B? What, because doing anything this complex happens in stages and requires different participants with different skill sets? A local developer had to assemble the parcel (non-trivial) and get it through. Then he sells to a _big_ developer (they're doing Pier 4 currently with New England Development), and it gets built (but they actually added to the scope of the project anyway). Once it's done, it needs someone to manage it, so Hanover can lather rinse repeat: hence, UBS. _This is how it works._ Acting like this is somehow weird does not reassure observers that governance is competent; it sounds like the adults are not doing a good job of communicating reality.
ETA Still More, on the 40B Alexan Concord/Longview Meadow development on Powdermill Road:
From earlier this year:
The developers seem to be a bunch of guys that left when Trammell Crow was, um, I don't have a good way to describe it. Went private and was disassembled?
I'm still trying to track down the proposal to build a bunch of affordable housing units on DOC land in Concord.