Housing Trust approves Goff conceptual plan

by Karina Coombs

The Carlisle Affordable Housing Trust has voted unanimously to approve a master plan for Department of Developmental Services (DDS) housing on the Goff property at 338 Bedford Road. During its February 27 meeting, the Trust selected scheme 1A, which locates the two proposed 2,500-square-foot group homes toward the front of the property. Housing Trust Chair Greg Peterson explained that the back area of the lot would remain open space until such a time as other municipal uses were defined. 

Any development would have to be among the uses allowed under the property’s deed restriction. The deed restriction under which the Housing Trust purchased the property allows the five-acre parcel to be used for the group housing, for recreation and for a possible senior/community/recreation center. No additional housing project would be allowed.

Plans call for the property to be developed and managed by DDS with a 99-year ground lease from Carlisle. The master planning process for the Goff property included two design meetings with local officials and architects, as well as a public discussion on January 25. (See: “Is a town-wide master plan needed? Suggestion emerges from Goff property discussions,” January 29.) 

In addition to the placement of the two group homes, a plan drawn by Samiotes Consultants shows potential sites for a well and septic system to serve the group homes. 

Future links to Banta-Davis discussed

The Goff plan includes a 20-foot-wide utility easement running alongside the property’s border with the Banta-Davis Land. The easement was created to help facilitate the Housing Trust’s separate proposal to build up to 50 mixed-income family rental apartments on a portion of the abutting Banta-Davis Land. The Carlisle School Committee (CSC) and the Selectmen jointly control Banta-Davis.

The Goff drawing also includes an area marked off that could potentially be used for future expansion of the Carlisle School’s leaching field. However, Selectman and Housing Trust member John Gorecki wanted that reference removed. “If at some point in time we need to reserve, [the land] we could take action to reserve,” said Gorecki, who wanted the plan to only focus on DDS housing. 

“I imagine the CSC will want assurance there is expansion of the leaching field,” said Selectman and Housing Trust member Doug Stevenson. Gorecki added that until the CSC voted on whether or not they would release four acres of the Banta-Davis Land for a separate, possible Housing Trust development, “there’s no reason to dedicate a specific area.” 

Peterson explained that the Goff master plan was conceptual and did not formally designate specific spaces. However, he did want to show that a general area would be held aside, adding that the soil on the property “was pretty special.” After much discussion as to whether or not the Goff master plan should show the leaching area, Housing Authority Chair Alan Lehotsky spoke up. “You paid a lot of money for the master plan. Either adopt it or not. The master plan shows you thought about all the things that you needed to think about, but you’re not promising anything.”

Moving forward with DDS housing

Once a surveyor is hired and conducts a meets and bounds survey, that survey will define a specific area to be leased for the DDS housing. In addition, a legal description is to be included in the bid documents currently being drafted. The Housing Trust voted to approve up to $5,000 from funds approved at the 2013 Town Meeting for the survey. 

In terms of the bid documents, Peterson told the group that he had met with Town Counsel and Building Inspector John Luther, who pointed out that under state law (Chapter 40A section 3) DDS group homes are considered educational use and therefore do not need to meet local zoning bylaws. Parking, setbacks and various dimensional matters are still subject to “reasonable regulation” by the town and at the discretion of Luther. Peterson noted that both Town Counsel and Luther want the permitting process to be clearly stated in the bid documents.

The Housing Authority is assisting the Trust with creating the Request for Proposal (RFP) bid documents. According to Lehotsky and Housing Authority and Trust member Carolyn Ing, the Housing Authority plans to circulate a draft RFP by mid-March, and hopes to finalize the RFP during the Housing Trust’s April meeting. Barnett added that during her conversations with DDS they were “very excited to work with the town.” ∆