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Scituate Housing Authority Minutes, June 5, 2006
A SCITUATE HOUSING AUTHORITY SPECIAL MEETING WAS HELD ON JUNE 5, 2006 AT 7:00 PM AT SAINT MARY’S PARISH CENTER AT 14 EDWARD FOSTER ROAD IN SCITUATE, MA 02066
Call to Order Chairman Patricia Butler called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
Patricia Butler, Mary Dean, Ethel Wheatley. Susan Blair
In addition, the meeting was attended by approximately thirty neighbors and other parties interested in the Scituate Housing Authority’s affordable housing initiative for its 7-acre parcel of land at the intersection of The Driftway and New Kent Street.
Ms. Butler told the audience that the Housing Authority is “leaning toward” the development of ten units of affordable housing for home ownership along with ten units for sale at market prices, but that the Commissioners were still open to other ideas and concerns, and that is the purpose of this open meeting.
Susan Blair moderated the Comments and Questions portion of the meeting. The following statements or queries were made in the course of the discussion.
1. So much of the town’s utilities and other necessities – the transfer station, the sewerage treatment plan, the golf course’s maintenance shed, the rail road station and parking lot, and the Kent Village low income housing development – are already located on The Driftway. To be fair to this neighborhood, any additional affordable housing development should be located in another part of town.
2. The 1993 Town Meeting vote was to use this land for affordable family housing with zoning and sewer. To change the purpose would require a vote at the Town Meeting.
3. The Town has changed since 1993. The Housing Authority should find a way to swap or sell this land in favor or acquiring a parcel in another part of town on which to fulfill their affordable housing mandate. Local conditions today suggest this land should be devoted to conservation.
4. Joseph Armstrong argued that the development currently favored by the Housing Authority Commissioners is one in which 50% of the units would be sold at approximately $180,000, which requires that the home owners have household incomes over $84,000 per year with good credit histories, etc. as they must qualify for a mortgage. The other 50% would be sold at market rates, which would likely be above $400.000. The development will have to be an attractive one in order to interest buyers who can afford the market selling price.
5. A developed property with landscaping would be more attractive than its current vacant lot appearance.
6. The wild plants and shrubs are growing in nicely, and the property, allowed to fill-in naturally is becoming better looking each year. Further, it provides a home for fox and other wildlife, and the drumlins very effectively serve as sound and sight barriers.
7. Stephen Dubuque, Executive Director of the South Shore Housing Development Corp., argued that no rental housing has been built in Scituate in 34 years. Family rental housing is in great demand, and can be attractive if done in a socially smart way.
8. Homeownership affordable housing is more desirable than rental affordable housing because it makes a greater contribution to the tax base. However, the assessment of the affordable homeownership units would be discounted, and the units still place an additional strain on public services.
9. The development of the harbor and the railroad will bring much additional traffic to The Driftway and New Kent Street, the Housing Authority should consider four to seven single family homes. It would be less dense, have a lower impact on traffic, and minimize the additional burden on town services.
10. The Housing Authority is still not sure it can build anything on this site. It first requires soil analysis, a civil engineering study, and an architectural proposal. The Housing Authority plans to seek funding for these exploration costs from the Community Preservation Committee on an incremental basis. The total cost may amount to $20,000.
11. Developing this land would make it more attractive than its current state. The town badly needs rental housing for its local trades people and civil servants who cannot afford to live in their home town and/or the town in which they work. Considering the above, the proposal to build a development that includes one-half affordable and one-half market rate housing is a compromise that is favorable to the neighborhood.
The meeting adjourned at 8:40.
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