Friday, April 28, 2000
Articles 20, 21, 22 - Conant Land affordable housing
These articles pertain to a plan to construct seven units of affordable housing on the Conant Land, along Rockland Road.
Article 20 will not be moved; the Conant Land was acquired by eminent domain so Article 20 would not apply.
Article 21 Requires a two-thirds vote at Town Meeting to transfer six acres of the 57-acre, town-owned Conant Land to a non-profit corporation, Carlisle Affordable Housing, Inc., which would act as developer for the affordable housing project. "Site control" of this land is necessary before the corporation can apply for grants to finance the project. The corporation is expected to realize some cost savings by avoiding state regulations for public projects.
Article 22 would appropriate $20,000 to the corporation for preparation of grant applications, septic testing, wetlands flagging, and other tasks required to move the project forward. In addition to Town Meeting approval, the one-time capital expenditure will have to garner a majority vote at the May 9 election. The $30,000 appropriated one year ago has been spent on architectural site plans and other preliminary expenses.
According to Marty Galligan, chair of the Carlisle Housing Authority and voting member of Carlisle Affordable Housing Inc., a request was made at the open forum on April 12 that the corporation explore the possibility of reducing the number of units. This is under discussion with the architect, but at this time, does not appear financially viable. Galligan pointed out that the next-smallest affordable housing development in the area is 18 units on six acres in Sherborn which includes its septic system and private well; the seven-unit plan for Carlisle is already pushing the boundaries of financial viability.
Currently, the plan includes seven rental units in three New England-style buildings: the first (closest to Westford Road) to contain one three-bedroom unit and two two-bedroom units; the second building to contain two two-bedroom units, and the third to contain one three-bedroom and one two-bedroom unit. Each three-bedroom unit would be 1,280 square feet and each two-bedroom would be 1,007 square feet. Plans show the buildings set back about 50 feet from Rockland Road and extending about 300 feet end to end.
Objections to the plan have largely centered on the impact of the development on the conservation land and town center water issues.
At the April 24 meeting of the selectmen, after hearing angry protests from town center residents and other residents, the board unanimously voted to support Article 21 and 22.
The finance committee did not take a position on Article 21 because it has no significant impact on town finances but they recommended the appropriation, if the Town Meeting approves Article 21. The planning board took a straw poll at Monday's hearing and the consensus was that members would either vote in favor of the plan or not take a position. With the limited amount of time for discussion and complexity of the issue, chair Michael Epstein said he did not feel comfortable asking for a vote but he assured housing authority members that the board would not vote against the plan.
At the April 20 conservation commission meeting, there was little discussion of the plan, since no vote was requested. However, two members of the audience commented briefly. Noting that the Conant Land had been ranked number one in the original Open Space and Recreation Plan, Betsy Fell questioned the intention to include market-rate housing in the committee's present proposal. "If you are building them, keep them affordable," she advised. Abutter Ann Lee then added, "Why not cut them from seven to five units and move it [the development] away from Castle Rock?"
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito