The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 25, 2007


Update on affordable housing

At the Housing Summit May 12, updates were given on three proposed projects to construct affordable housing in the west, north and center of town.

Benfield RFP nears

Alan Lehotsky noted the Housing Authority is still working on the Request for Proposal (RFP) to build up to 26 units of low- and moderate-income housing on the town-owned Benfield property on South Street. "It's been a large process getting up to speed as a group," he said, adding that the intent is to keep the requirements as broad as possible, because "we can't change our minds after it's issued."

The committee is open to a variety of proposals, including rental or assisted living. The land will be leased as required by CPA rules. Lehotsky said, "We're looking for a developer with a great idea for what to do with six acres on a rural country road."

Asked whether Habitat for Humanity might be involved, Lehotsky said that that organization is not interested in such a large project and, "I worry as the footprint grows smaller and smaller, that the ability to partition into a Habitat and developer thing has gone to zero." He proposed that town-owned tax title lots which are often non-conforming could be used for a one- or two-unit Habitat development. "They quailed at the idea of six units. One or two is what they can manage."

Right now the push is on to get the Benfield deeds approved. Lehotsky invited anyone interested to "feel free to come to Housing Authority meetings the second and fourth Tuesdays every month." He noted, "I don't think there'll be a lot of controversy in the RFP. We're trying to make it as vague as we can." There will be public hearings once a draft is ready, and the goal is to issue the RFP in the fall with a hope of going before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) in the spring.

Westford Street housing

John Ballantine spoke for the not-for-profit corporation being formed to build 25 to 50 rental units on about 25 acres of the Wilson land on Westford Street. The project will move forward once the permitting process is completed for Hanover Hills, the standard subdivision planned for the surrounding Wilson acreage. Ballantine expects the affordable housing development will come before town boards for approval in 2008. The proposed site is roughly around the location of the former Wilson home.

A hope is to provide "community space" for meetings and activities within the development. Partners will be sought to bring a Local Initiative Project (LIP) to the town. "We are looking for a design that integrates well. It could be really nice," said Ballantine. "But it takes a lot of work, and we are only beginning."

Village Court expansion?

Bert Williams from the boards of the Carlisle Village Court and Council on Aging noted he had recently learned that the idea to expand Village Court had been included in the Affordable Housing Plan issued in 2005. Village Court is the elderly housing complex on Church Street across from the Carlisle School. It was built in 1979 and contains 18 units, all affordable.Eleven units are deeply subsidized and under certain cases a tenant may pay little or no rent. The non-profit corporation formed to build Village Court received the land from the town for $1.

The Housing Plan proposal was to connect the Village Court to the Carlisle School's wastewater treatment system so the three acres now reserved for the septic system could be used for the construction of additional housing. "I personally think it's an intriguing idea," said Williams. He noted the school now has a problem with keeping their system healthy due to under-use in the summer, so the plan could be a benefit both ways.

The COA is about to undertake a survey of future needs of senior residents, and will include questions about housing. Elizabeth Hodges noted there is "incredible demand" for heavily subsidized units, but that two less-subsidized units have been unfilled for several months.

Currently the COA is checking with ten other towns to get an idea of what services are typical. An in-town survey will be issued, and once completed, will be used to determine if new senior housing is needed, and at what level of subsidy.

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito