Affordable Housing Discussion Dec. 7

Town Council Workshop on Affordable Housing
Wednesday, December 7, 6 p.m.
Town Hall

A Workshop will be held between the Town Council, Planning Commission, and the Affordable Housing Commission. On the agenda–presentation of Transfer of Development Rights by the Washington County Regional Planning Council that should last approximately one half hour, then a discussion about the impact of the state law on affordable housing.

Currently, there are 115 houses under the Affordable Housing Act proposed for Charlestown, where zoning allows traditionally 16 to 17 houses. Out of those 115 houses, 29 are proposed to be “affordable” which means up to $366K per house for a family of four earning up to $90K. The remainder of the 115 houses would be market rate – however, in today’s economy, it’s hard to imagine the market bearing even the price of the affordable units.

The developments are proposed in areas where the land is zoned 2 or 3 acre minimum and where there are wetlands. Neighbors who expected the zoning to be followed, are finding that the state law ignores zoning and other state guidelines and plans. Two of these developments are proposed off of Kings Factory Road next to Natural Heritage Areas near the Carter Preserve and School House Pond. These are areas that the state and town have designated for very low impact development. We aren’t sure yet where the third development is proposed except that it has been described as an area zoned for natural resource protection.

There is also a FOURTH for-profit affordable housing proposal supposedly being formulated in the near future.

Not included in the numbers above are two Town Council approved not-for-profit developer affordable housing initial concepts in Shannock (Shannock Village Cottages) and the Town Village District (TVD) at the Episcopal Church (ChurchWoods). Both of these projects are 100% affordable housing and the ChurchWoods proposal is for affordable senior housing which the Town needs.

In CCA’s opinion, for-profit developers should not be allowed to build more dense developments for higher profits under the guise of affordable housing.

There will be ample time after the workshop during the Town Council debate to express your thoughts on how this law should be changed so a Resolution can be drafted for the legislature to pass a new Affordable Housing Law.