Warrant article looks to move Sunderland senior housing plan forward

  • This house at 120 North Main St., Sunderland, is part of the town’s plan to develop affordable senior housing. The Select Board will review the matter on Tuesday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

For the Gazette
Saturday, April 22, 2017

SUNDERLAND — Affordable senior housing is closer than ever to becoming a reality on North Main Street, but first, $100,000 from the town needs to be approved at this year’s annual town meeting.

“The reason it’s on the warrant is for the Community Preservation Act funding — the developer requested additional funds as part of their budget and financing,” said Lorin Starr, chair of the 120 North Main St. Advisory Committee Wednesday, noting a second request for money from a different account. “Among (CPA’s) intended uses are housing and preservation. So this project fits into both of those categories.”

Article 10 of a draft warrant, expected to be voted on by the Selectboard at Tuesday’s meeting, outlines a recommendation by the Community Preservation Act Committee to “vote to appropriate $49,000 from the CPA Community Housing Reserves for a total of $100,000 to fund the development of Sunderland Affordable Housing.”

The project was originally proposed by town officials last year. Following a request for proposals, a joint submission from nonprofits Rural Development Inc. and Valley Community Development Corp. was given the go-ahead by the Selectboard earlier this year.

Since the project was approved, there hasn’t been any further developments aside from legal logistics, Starr said.

Preliminary designs call for 34 affordable senior housing residences on 2.8 residentially-zoned acres just outside the town center — four apartments in an existing house near the street, the rest in a horseshoe-shaped building set back from the road.

“This project is something the town wants. We are contributing the house we purchased, and the land, but we don’t want to own it,” Starr said.

In order to make the project more competitive when applying for state grants and because the two organizations “need the funding,” she continued, “it’s advantageous” for the town to show strong support by contributing money.

“Our committee voted for this proposal unanimously. We think there is a really fantastic opportunity to move forward with affordable senior housing in the center of town. And we have a lot of confidence in this team that they will do a great job,” she said.

“From my perspective, this is a $10 mill-plus project — it’s a relatively small amount of money in comparison to the total cost. And this is money that’s already set aside for this purpose. It’s not competing for the operating budget.”

For informational purposes, Starr encouraged anyone seeking more information to attend Tuesday’s Selectboard meeting, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the town office building.