Board of Selectmen, Housing Committee, and Community Preservation Committee.
May 24, 2004
Present: Frank Fenner, Chair, Warren Doty, JB Riggs Parker, William Randol, Steve Gallas, Jim Feiner, Steve Schwab, Zelda Gamson, Ronald Rappaport.
Present from Public: Twenty people counted, 17 signed the sheet. See attached list.
Frank Fenner opened the meeting at 7:30p.m. Mr. Fenner then turned the meeting over to the Housing Committee. Steve Schwab introduced Derrill Bazzy of South Mountain Company to review the Concept Plan of Middle Line Road project. The basis of The Plan is three clusters of dwellings with three duplexes intermingled with three homesites on each cluster. These clusters would share wells, septic systems and parking lots.
Middle Line Road Design:
The public introduced the topic of all rentals. The question was asked by Frank Yeomans as to what would happened with the design if it were to be all rental? Mr. Bazzy responded that it would be more expensive to construct and the rent collected would only cover the mortgage and management costs. It would not cover maintenance costs. Mr. Yeomans was then instructed to refer to the all rental financial document that was provided at the meeting for a reference point. Mr. Parker inquired as to what about people being able to take care of their homes and would they be in as good condition as the rentals when it comes time to resell them?
Warren Doty mentioned the benefit of having the Island Housing Trust manage the land through a ground lease. The monies spent would be recovered by the sale of the Homesites along with support from the CPA monies.
The public inquired as to how a lottery system would be put into place. Steve Schwab answered that there is going to be a lottery and there is a guide in the Homesite Housing Guidelines.
The public inquired is this going to be the Plan if it is voted all rental? Mr. Schwab responded stating that this is the only plan that has been considered. The public inquired if the cost of the all rental construction could be lower if the Plan were redone. The question was that this would be possible.
The public raised the concern of what protects the affordability in the case of catastrophe or divorce. Ms. Gamson stated that deed restrictions were in place in many towns on this island and it has been a well thought out process. The deed restrictions hold the Homesite at being resold at an affordable rate, not market rate.
Frank Yeomans suggested that there be a book to go with the Homesite for reference as to what the owners are allowed or not allowed to do. Steve Gallas responded that the publication cost is to high and the Homesite applicants are given information when they apply. Jim Feiner also responded that the committee would have to create a reference document specifically for Middle Line Road. Mr. Parker stated that there are a lot of suggestions but few have been adopted as of yet since this is a complicated project.
Draft Warrant Articles:
The draft warrant articles were discussed. The public raised concern about the order stating that it seems "slanted" and should be revised. Mr. Fenner stated that the Board of Selectmen has had many meetings and conversations about the order of the articles. It has been discussed at length and that he personally suggested the particular order presented at this hearing. Mr. Parker and Mr. Doty agreed with Mr. Fenner's comments and also stated that the most controversial issue should be discussed first. The controversial issue was the all rental question. The public stated that they felt that there were too many articles and there should be a change of the order.
The public inquired as to draft warrant article 8. That question is would the owners of the Homesite be allowed to rent their homes out at and affordable rate? The public questioned as to whether it needs to be affordable and not market rate. Mr. Fenner stated that it would have to be at an affordable rate according to rules set by the Island Housing Trust. There are provisions for emergency situations such as the care of the family member living elsewhere. The person renting the house would have to be on the Housing Committee approved list.
Ms. Gamson addressed the Board of Selectmen stating that article one as presented could preclude the all rentals from ever being sold as ownership units. In addition, the language needs to be changed from conceptual plan to concept plan. Mr. Fenner advised that we should ask Town Counsel about these matters when he arrives.
The public inquired if article 4 was even necessary. Mr. Doty responded that it is time to give more direction to the Housing Committee. It is time to see if the town likes what they have accomplished or should they be directed to focus on other tasks.
Frank Yeomans inquired as to what if the town was to use 100% of CPA funds instead of 50%? Mr. Doty answered that CPA funds are only for people with up to 100% of median income and the idea of this project is to create a mixed group of people. Half of the units will be for up to 100% of median income and the other half for up to 150% of median income. There are going to be permanent deed restrictions on the homes even if the CPA funds are used. The public was concerned about state restrictions if CPA funds are used and the potential risks to the town.
Mr. Fenner would prefer the town to be cautious in it actions. The Housing Committee responded that we must take the necessary steps to make this plan move forward. Mr. Fenner would prefer to be cautious since this is a large project and the town has never done this before. Mr. Fenner then read Bob Kuehn's email into the minutes. See attached email.
Mr. Doty's sentiments are that we need to get this project built. Mr. Parker feels that the town needs to know all that is involved in this project. Mr. Doty responded that the CPA was passed to build affordable housing in Chilmark. We now have the perfect project for such funds. We are going to have monies from the CPA raised by the town and matched 100% by the state. We will not have to borrow any money and we will not have to increase taxes. If not this project, what? Mr. Gallas stated that Chilmark was one of the first island towns to sign on to the CPA and now it is hesitant. There have been many public meetings; the Housing Committee is behind the project. The public needs to have faith in the committee to do the right thing. Marybeth Grady stated that the committee has worked very hard on this plan and we need
to have faith in them and honor their hard work on this project.
Mr. Fenner inquired of Mr. Rappaport the change of article 4 to "To see if the Town will vote to approve the concept of the Design Plan for Middle Line Road as attached to the Housing Committee handout distributed at the Annual Town Meeting April 25, 2005." Mr. Rappaport stated that that would be fine. Mr. Doty motioned to change the language to "the concept of" in article 4. Mr. Parker motioned to adopt that and the warrant as is. There was no second and the motion failed. The public suggested moving article 4 to be article 1 and articles 2 and 3 move down in the line. Mr. Fenner motioned to move article 4 as amended to article 1. Mr. Doty seconded the motion. Motion approved unanimously.
Mr. Fenner inquired as to any questions about the draft warrant article 11. The public supported the article and suggested that the selectmen visit Tea Lane when it rains. Then they will see the potholes that develop. Mr. Doty stated that the average speed clocked on Tea Lane was 17.4 MPH. There was no comment on article 12.
Mr. Doty motioned to set the warrant as amended. Mr. Parker seconded the motion. Motion approved unanimously.
Legal counsel's memorandum on the use of CPA funds. (See attached memo):
Mr. Rappaport referenced his document and stated that the CPA is written in vague terms and there are no definitive answers because there is no case law involving the CPA. The CPA and the Department of Revenue states that the homesites can be sold in projects funded by the CPA. It can also be used for an all rental project. The selectmen felt that there are risks with a project like this and reasonable steps should be taken to protect all involved.
There can be a preference for people who have lived in Chilmark but not a requirement that they have. Steve Gallas described the selection process and Jim Feiner stated that there will be enough people who will meet the criteria for owning or renting on the property.
Warren Doty stated that this is the right way to finance a project. The taxes are not increasing and there are no bonds being floated. What more could you ask for?
Mr. Fenner stated that there would be a long-term lease on the property for the ownership units. Mr. Doty stated that there is an advantage to the Island Housing Trust managing the rentals and the property. The IHT has the staff and knowledge to handle it.
Mr. Doty informed the boards of the CPC vote Transfer and use the unspent balance ($54,560) of the $56,000 Community Preservation Fund appropriation that was approved by voters at the October 21, 2002 Special Town Meeting. This appropriation as described in the October 21, 2002 Warrant Article # 17 was for an affordable housing feasibility study of town lot (Map 13, Lot 43 – Middle Line Road).
Transfer and use up to $157,500 from the Community Preservation Budgeted Reserve Fund for the balance of the funds needed for tonight’s appropriation request -- $54,560 + $157,500 = $212,060.
Mr. Fenner motioned to adjourn. Unanimous approval.
Meeting adjourned at 9:00p.m
These minutes respectfully submitted by Deborah Cini, Acting Administrative Assistant.