WOODBRIDGE, Conn. (WTNH) — Several organizations and individuals filed a civil rights lawsuit Wednesday against the Town of Woodbridge, claiming the town’s zoning practices violate the state’s Zoning Enabling Act and Fair Housing Act.

The lawsuit challenges the town’s zoning regulations on several legal grounds, claiming the town has barred a wide variety of multi-family options and failed to address the need for affordable housing in the region, which disproportionately impacts Black and Latino families.

“This is par for the court for a town that for generations has zoned to exclude,” said Erin Boggs, the executive director of the Open Communities Alliance, one of the plaintiffs. “Two years ago, recognizing that the town had an effective ban on multi-family housing, Open Communities Trust came to Woodbridge offering a modest first step in reforming its exclusionary practices. We asked the town to allow multi-family housing to be built on single-family lots.”

That was struck down, facing pushback from residents, leaving a zoning code that blocks multifamily housing with three or more units on 98.4% of Woodbridge’s residential land, requiring “burdensome special exception review in the remaining 1.6% for all forms of multifamily housing.”

Open Communities Alliance currently has an option to purchase property in town to build a four-unit, mixed-income structure.

“What we really want to see happen is whole-scale rezoning of towns so not every affordable housing or multi-family is a big fight,” Boggs said.

They’re hoping a favorable ruling will not only lead to more affordable housing in Woodbridge but in other communities.

“It will be a model across the state, and even the country, that prohibits towns from building walls around themselves,” said Connie Royster, the board co-chair of Open Communities Alliance.

Woodbridge’s zoning office told News 8 that they have no comment on the lawsuit. We also reached out to the first selectman and town attorney for comment but have not yet heard back.