The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 1, 2008


Housing Authority shorts for Jan. 24

· Benfield housing. The Housing Authority is on course for issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for the Benfield development soon. At their meeting January 24 it was noted that consultant Karen Sunnarborg is currently reviewing a draft of the document and once her comments are received, a public hearing will be scheduled to receive input from the town.

The Housing Authority has applied to the Community Preservation Act Committee (CPC) for $425,000 for Benfield well and septic installation and to upgrade the road. Alan Lehotsky noted the application shows the town is willing to help fund infrastructure, but if the responses to the RFP do not require it, it will not be moved at Town Meeting. Still unanswered is the question of whether the Authority can move ahead with the development, or if Town Meeting must approve any lease on the land.

The March 11 Conservation Commission Coffee will feature a presentation of the plan for Benfield by Housing Authority Chair Alan Lehotsky.

· Housing for the mentally impaired. Housing Authority member Eugenia Harris reported on a meeting she and Administrative Coordinator Elizabeth Barnett attended with David Hedison of the Chelmsford Housing Authority, who has been helping Carlisle get its affordable housing programs off the ground. Two Department of Mental Retardation (DMR) consulants who visited Carlisle last summer had suggested pursuing DHCD 689 funding for building a group home for retarded adults, but this fund is depleted and it is not expected to be replenished in this year's budget. Federal HUD 811 funds would be an alternative, but that program would require partnering with a non-profit as it does not provide the front-to back funding and support of a 689.

Another Hedison suggestion was to partner with an organization now providing services to mentally impaired Carlisle residents for a private facility that would be subsidized through Section 8 vouchers, a government program to offset rental expenses for low-income households. These vouchers are of two types; those which provide rental assistance for specific individuals, and those which are project-based. This plan would allow the town to retain control over who lives there, and give priority to those with town connections. Under 689, DMR can place whoever they want in the units. But "unless we can interest a local group, we don't have the bandwidth to do this outside DMR," said Lehotsky.

Where would a development go? The Carlisle Planned Production Plan approved by the state a few years ago has several suggestions, but "everything on there has entanglements," said Lehotsky. "There's nothing we could say tomorrow 'let's build on it.'" He noted that of all town-owned parcels, the Conant Land and a 10-acre piece at the Cranberry Bog which currently provides storage for sand and compost would be the easiest to move forward on.

· Village Court. Another possibility is expansion of Village Court for either elderly or mixed housing. The idea would be to tie into the Carlisle School wastewater treatment plant and develop the land now reserved for the septic system. Lehotsky said the state's refusal to pay for the facility may clear the way for this, as there will be no school-only encumbrance.

Harris noted that Hedison believes the town could apply for a HUD 202 loan for this expansion. Though the Village Court Board of Directors seemed positively inclined to looking into an expansion, it was not clear they would want to change their form of incorporation to conform with HUD 202. Harris will sound them out regarding interests/possibilities and report back.

· Green development. Barnett received funding to attend a forum on minimizing environmental impacts of development held at MIT. "It would be good to have a heavy component of "green" at Benfield," said Lehotsky. Green development grants will be looked into, and Susan Stamps noted the Green Communities Act making its way through the legislature may include new avenues for funding.

· Donation offer. A resident is interested in donating land to house the physically handicapped, but it was not known if this would count as affordable housing.

2008 The Carlisle Mosquito