The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 19, 2009

Shorts from the June 11 Housing Authority meeting

• Concerns about legality of new 40B regs. Chair of the Carlisle Housing Authority Alan Lehotsky reviewed the discussion of the proposed new 40B regulations that took place at the June 9 Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting. “This afternoon Town Counsel reviewed previous drafts of comprehensive permit [documents] and we participated in a conference call to establish whether our legal analysis of the comp permits stood up to the state regulations.” Town Counsel said that this approach conflicts with state regulations, reported Lehotsky. Last spring, however, Town Counsel had approved an earlier draft of the proposed regulations.

Housing Authority member Susan Stamps added, “ZBA regulations are usually about process and procedure and not about performance standards.” She continued, “A comprehensive permit isn’t supposed to be treated any differently than a non-comp permit. ”

Lehotsky reiterated that “we are not opposed to tough regulations in town; we just want to make sure that the town doesn’t get sued and that regulations apply to everyone. Town Counsel said these regs are ‘very aggressive’ and that ‘enacting regulations at the board level is safer.’” Stamps noted, “This would show the town as willing to push the legal envelope and be a test case.”

Selectman John Williams concluded the discussion of the comprehensive permit regulations by saying, “I am in favor of strong regulations. We instructed Town Counsel that we are not interested in a set of regulations that made it certain that we would never lose, be sued or have a fight. Rather we want something that is strong so that we could choose to fight in areas that we felt were an important fight....The problem here is that each party is talking to us [BOS] about the other; we think they should be talking to each other.”

Benfield site visit. Ray Kubacki of South Street asked from the audience whether the June 9 site visit by state officials to the proposed senior housing project on the Benfield Land was an open meeting. It had been posted at Town Hall, but Lehotsky apologized for not publicizing it better. “I accept your apology,” said Kubacki, “but it is unfortunate that you had that kind of a group together without a broader audience. It would have been better to have neighbors and abutters there. Only one side was heard.”

Housing Authority member James Bohn agreed with Kubacki. The state had asked for representatives of certain boards to be present, and these people were emailed about the visit the night before. Carlisle Administrative Coordinator Elizabeth Barnett explained that the personnel from the state were “finance people. They need to know that the parcel exists and is safe to build on. They have the proposal that was submitted to the DHCD [Department of Housing and Community Development].”

AAA update. The Affordable Accessory Apartment Deed Restrictions document has come back from Town Counsel with minor changes. Once comments are made and the Planning Board approves them, Elizabeth Barnett will send this document on to the state. Lehotsky said, “we will have an Accessory Apartment program very soon.”

Haying. Barnett reported that, “ConsCom [the Conservation Commission] mowed the front field but not back field of the Benfield property. Business was solicited from three hayers; one declined, and of the other two bids, Jack O’Connor was hired at $140 each for two hayings.”

State seeks “workforce” housing. Barnett reported that she had attended a Massachusetts Housing Partnership conference. This was an event to discuss green housing, economics of housing, zoning and the overall economy. Under Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Tina Brooks discussed two-bedroom housing for “workforce” housing.

“There is, [Brooks] said, a need for townhouses and ‘cottages’ similar to Malcolm Meadows for working families. The state’s economy is not growing, she said, because of zoning. She said that people are attracted to New England for its small villages and we are destroying that with our large (two-acre) zoning. It constricts the ability to provide services.”

Barnett further related, “Centralized communities with easy access to services allow business development. Some communities are bearing the burden for services we all enjoy, like airports, for example, and affordable housing is one small part where small communities like us can do their part to contribute to economic redevelopment.”

Housing plan update. Lehotsky asked, “Should we appoint someone to the Carlisle Affordable Housing Plan rewrite that has to be done by next June?” Williams answered that two people are needed from the Housing Authority to work on this rewrite. Jim Bohn and Lehotsky volunteered. Other volunteers are Williams and Selectman Tim Hult; Planning Board volunteers are, as yet, unannounced.

“This [rewrite] should start rolling this summer,” Williams said. Lehotsky said, “We will have to come up with a way to identify appropriate parcels of land or drain swamps without raising the ire of ConsCom.” Admitting that the task will be difficult, he added, “most of our parcels are encumbered with conservation restrictions which would require non-trivial machinations to open them to this.”

Stamps suggested that the town’s Open Space and Recreation Plan (OS&R) should include housing and the group updating the town’s Housing Production Plan should “be in contact with OS&R folks to help identify appropriate parcels. We should also encourage the Land Trust to encourage people to leave property to the town.” ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito