The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 1, 2005


Housing Plan goes to state

On June 28, David Freedman of the Affordable Housing Plan Task Force appeared before the Selectmen and received their approval of the ten-year Affordable Housing Plan (Mosquito, June 24). The plan identifies specific sites for development to add at least three-quarters of one percent (0.75%) of Carlisle's required affordable housing stock, or 12 units, per year. Once the plan is approved by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and the town issues permits for the first 12 affordable units, it can defer 40B applications for one year, with each additional 12 units earning an additional one-year deferment.

Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie said that the approved housing plan will be sent to DHCD this week and the town hopes to have approval by the end of July.

Chapter 40B is a state statute which permits developers to build higher density housing than allowed under local zoning bylaws if at least 25% of the units have long-term affordability restrictions. Recent 40B developments have raised concerns that overly dense housing will negatively impact the town's infrastructure and environment. Carlisle will have permanent protection from 40B once it reaches a level at which 10% of total housing units are affordable, or about 170 units.

Year by year housing production

To achieve the 12-unit per year goal, the plan anticipates four units of affordable housing from the Laurel Hollow/Carlisle Woods developments, and eight accessory apartment or conversions to two-family units in year one (2005). Year two will be supplied by private development, with years three and four taken care of by the 26 Benfield units. Expansion of the Carlisle Village Court will add 22 rental units, which along with scattered developments, will supply years five and six.

In the final plan, years six and beyond have changed from the preliminary plan discussed at a community input session held June 16. Feedback from that session led the task force to re-order priorities to put land purchase before development of conservation land. Under the revised plan, the town will now need to purchase land in year six (2010) for development in year seven (2011). As a result, the town will not develop conservation land until year eight (2012), at which time the Red Pine Tree Farm is slotted for housing. Alternately the Greenough Barn property could be developed, with private development or accessory apartments adding to the total. In year ten, development of other town-owned property is planned, possibly the Cranberry Bog, Gage Woodlot, or Town Forest. In total, 204 units are planned, of which 125 are affordable and 18 middle income.

In another change, the land to be developed in year seven will include 15 affordable and 20 total units, rather than the original 30 affordable and 50 total. The Red Pine Tree Farm development in 2012 will include 22 affordable units instead of the original 30, with an additional eight affordable units supplied by accessory apartments or by-right conversions to two-family units. Other concerns expressed at the community session were also addressed, including a criticism that specific town-owned properties had been identified "when everything should be on the table." The new document adds wording reflecting that "other town-owned properties may also be suitable for such development."

"Gigantic capital undertaking"

A letter from FinCom member David Trask, writing for himself as the FinCom has not met on this issue, was distributed and read. It cautioned that "The plan envisions a very large capital project being undertaken by the town, namely the construction of over 200 housing units at a cost of $256,000 or more per unit over the next ten years. Even if these units are sold or rented, the construction of so many units is a gigantic capital undertaking, with very large short-term borrowing costs." He suggested changing the percentage of affordable units from 40% of total to 80% to reduce the needed number of units. Freedman conceded that the plan does not answer the question, "What's this all going to cost?" He expects deals can be structured with enough market-rate units to minimize the final cost to the town. But Task Force member Louise Hara pointed to the substantial man-hours that will be needed, and Selectman Tim Hult noted "There isn't any way this is going to be cheap."

The revised Affordable Housing Plan is available for review at Town Hall and at the Gleason Library and online HERE as a Word Document

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito