Marceline Property Could Host Up To 90 Bedrooms

by William F. Galvin
The town's new Planning  and Community Development Director Christine Flynn was in attendance at the affordable housing trust meeting on Monday. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO The town's new Planning and Community Development Director Christine Flynn was in attendance at the affordable housing trust meeting on Monday. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

HARWICH – The 12-acre former Marceline property located on Pleasant Lake Avenue between Queen Anne Road and Route 6 could be the site of affordable rental housing with up to 90 bedrooms.

The town’s affordable trust trust has been working with the Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MEP) to draft language for the selection of a developer to design, construct, operate and manage affordable renting units on the property. The draft request for proposals calls for no more than 90 bedrooms on that site.

The trust intends to enter into a land development agreement and convey or lease the property to a developer, according to a proposal. It will likely be issued early next year.

Trust members on Monday discussed the status of the draft RFP with Laura Shufelt, director of community assistance with MEP. There are some issues that have to be resolved, including access to the property.

Shufelt said project engineers have determined a paper road that runs through the property, Bassett Lane, is a public way, which cuts the parcel into two lots. The 22-foot road presents some challenges, she said, including requiring separate septic systems for developments on either side of the road. Wastewater is a limiting factor on the number of units that can be built on the property, she said.

Another issue was access and egress to the lots. Shufelt said Bassett Lane has a Massachusetts Department of Transportation-approved curb cut on Pleasant Lake Avenue, but getting another one approved could be a problem because the Route 6 interchange lanes are located on the opposite side of that road. Both lots would have to meet town and state access and egress requirements.

A portion of the property connects with Queen Anne Road; since that is a town road it should be easier to place a curb cut there, she said. Affordable Housing Trust Chair Larry Ballantine asked if an easement could be granted across Bassett Lane leading to an access along Queen Anne Road, but there was no clear answer.

Trust member Bob Spencer said Bassett Lane goes east to Oak Street. He asked if that road could serve as an exit from the development. Shufelt said it could be used, but it’s a long distance and might better serve as an emergency exit.

Shufelt said the project’s engineers are due to issue a report the first week in December and additional information would be available then. Once the engineering report is done, designers would put together a couple of conceptual site plans for a developer to consider. She added a developer is not committed to use such designs.

According to the draft RFP, the development should be designed for a variety of households, including individuals of all ages, families with children, persons with disabilities, and reflect a mix of affordability levels. The trust would also like to see a mix of residential building types.

“All of the units must be affordable to households at or below 100 percent Area Median Income (AMI), with an average of no more than 80 percent AMI. The trust prefers that the development will include units that are affordable to households with incomes ranging from 30 percent AMI to 100 percent AMI. All affordable units, 80 percent AMI or below, must meet the requirements for inclusion in the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities' subsidized housing Inventory,” the draft reads.

The development should reflect the needs of Harwich and provide housing for a range of household sizes, according to the draft. The trust is interested in more than one building as well as “universally accessible” designs. The proposal calls for at least 10 percent of the units to contain three or more bedrooms to satisfy the state’s family housing policy.

Jackie Etsten, the town representative to the Cape Cod Commission, urged the trust to stay away from buildings with long interior corridors and look to townhouse designs as high as three stories. She recommended placing seniors on the ground floor and families on the top two stories, with each unit having its own entrance.

The document also calls for the successful respondent’s development team to provide a qualified experienced management firm and requires on-site management and 24-hour emergency maintenance service.

Ballantine wanted to know when the RFP could be presented to developers. Shufelt said it would be ready before the first of the year, but she would recommend withholding it until mid-February. Most developers are busy through January trying to complete grant funding applications, she said.