Friday, October 5, 2007
Carlisle Housing Authority reaches milestone
They've got the goods — after years of waiting, the Carlisle Housing Authority on September 27 accepted title to Area 1 (see map on page 5) of the Benfield Land, the portion of the 45-acre property reserved for community housing. With possession of the deed comes authority to spend almost $50,000 in Community Preservation Funds for the design of affordable housing, which was voted by Annual Town Meeting in 2005. The Selectmen signed the housing, recreation and conservation restrictions for the property on September 25, prior to relinquishing the deed.
The town purchased the Benfield Land in 2004 for the combined purposes of open space preservation, sites for affordable housing and a possible athletic field. Areas 2 and 3 are reserved for open space and recreation, with the preferred location of an athletic field being Area 3. Area 4 is protected open space that may also contain the water supply and wastewater disposal field for the housing.
Celebration was brief, however, because the Housing Authority still has a lot of work to do to prepare a Request For Proposal (RFP) for the 26 units of senior rental housing they wish to build on the property. Administrative Coordinator Elizabeth Barnett recommended that Carlisle use an RFP for a similar project in Westport as a template, and Housing Authority members divided up the chapters to study and rewrite as needed to fit the Benfield project. They will combine their pieces into a first draft RFP for review at their next meeting on October 11.
Barnett urges the public to contact her or any Housing Authority member with suggestions for the design of the housing development, "Input is wanted. People should not hesitate to send in ideas, because it's better to hear the same things from four different people than not to hear it from anyone."
Besides the $50,000 controlled by the Housing Authority, the town has various other funds available for use on the project. Steve Perlman, the Housing Authority liaison to the Community Preservation Committee (CPC), distributed a list of projects approved for Community Preservation Act funding (see table below.) Included was $50,000 to the Selectmen under Article 1 in FY04 for the Benfield master site plan, $30,000 to the Selectmen voted under CPC Motion 8 in FY06 for Benfield-related professional expenses, $25,000 allotted for the athletic field design, and $50,000 for the use of the Carlisle Affordable Housing Trust. Most of those allocations have not yet been spent.
Carlisle goes to bat for AAAs
Barnett announced an opportunity for progress in the town's efforts to create affordable accessory apartments (AAAs). In 2006 the town approved a bylaw to encourage residents to build and register AAAs. CPA funds totalling $90,000 were set aside for incentives, but the program has been delayed pending state approval of the bylaw. Housing Authority members and Barnett have been invited to discuss the bylaw with the state Department of Health and Community Development (DHCD) on October 9.
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