Friday, December 21, 2007
Housing Authority hears Benfield abutters' concerns
At the December 18 joint meeting of the town's Housing Authority and Carlisle Affordable Housing Trust, members discussed the current status of a request for proposal (RFP) that will be drafted to contain requirements for the housing development on the town-owned Benfield property on South Street.
Housing Authority Chair Alan Lehotsky stated that it would take their RFP consultant, Karen Sunnarborg, about 30 hours of work to draft the RFP. Once the Authority agrees on a draft RFP, they will circulate it and ask for public feedback. If there is no comment that forces "major retooling," then in early- to mid-February, the Housing Authority plans to go to the state register and publish the RFP. They will send out additional, separate notifications to "people who ought to be reviewing it." If the February timetable holds, the Housing Authority would ask for a formal public review period of at least a month.
Off-site meeting criticized
Alan Carpenito, having recused himself from the Housing Trust, sat in the audience as an abutter. He stated to the boards that he did not feel that the Benfield RFP process was handled very well and spoke against the Housing Authority's holding a posted public meeting on Saturday, November 3 at Lehotsky's home. "I think it was inappropriate to have a town meeting at someone's home. It puts people in an inappropriate position to discuss [the RFP comfortably]."
Lehotsky responded to Carpenito's issue with holding the meeting at a private home by saying "The meeting was at [my house]. There wasn't any attempt at hiding. It was just more comfortable [there] than to drag everyone into Town Hall on a Saturday morning." Housing Trust member John Williams also stated that the boards were not trying to hide anything from the public. "John Rizzy [a representative for the Benfield abutters] was present at the meeting [at Lehotsky's house] The comments that the abutters made are all being incorporated into the RFP. Nothing that has been said would give a reasonable person cause to think that we were trying to keep the abutters out of the process or skirt their opinions."
Furthermore, Carpenito said that the townspeople did not have access to the draft RFP while it was being developed to this point. After Administrative Coordinator Elizabeth Barnett provided Authority members with sample RFP materials this fall, members divided up the chapters and each worked on drawing up different sections of a initial draft RFP. Carpenito said, "Citizens didn't have access to [the RFP] for four or five meetings while it was being discussed. I believe that if you are working on a document in a public meeting, then it needs to be available. I believe that if you are interacting on an RFP with another board, then it can be held from the public. But when you are dealing with an RFP in public with the public, then the public should have access to it."
Another audience member and Benfield abutter wanted to state for the record that he felt that the Housing Authority did not have an "open mind about things" because he felt that the Authority would not entertain bids from developers with plans for less than 26 units. The Authority voted in September to build 26 units, the maximum authorized by Town Meeting when the 45-acre property was purchased.
The next Housing Authority meetings are scheduled for the second and fourth Thursdays in January.
© 2007 The