Housing Com Supports 100-Unit Development

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Development , Housing and homelessness

The schematic design for the 100-unit affordable housing development proposed along Route 137 in East Harwich.  COURTESY DAVID CLARK

Quarter Of Rental Units Will Be Affordable

EAST HARWICH — Developer Chris Wise received the preliminary endorsement of the town’s housing committee Monday for a housing project containing 100-units, a quarter of which will be affordable.

Earlier this year, Wise received planning board approval for a 10-lot subdivision for the 12.27-acre parcel along Route 137 between Hall’s Path and Sherwood Road. His intention is to use the site for construction of affordable rental housing, not single-family homes.

Initially 50 duplexes, the project has changed to 23 buildings with four or five units in each. He acknowledged the project is in the preliminary stages and is still being vetted, but said the site plan should not change much.

The 100-unit development would consist of 75 percent market rate and 25 percent affordable units. Wise said the plan is to build 35 one-bedroom units, nine of them affordable; 55 two-bedroom units, 14 of which would be affordable; and 10 three-bedroom units, three of which would be affordable. The affordable units would be available to residents earning 80 percent of the median household income for Barnstable County.

Wise said there is not much difference between the affordable and market rates in the county, suggesting the rent for both categories is almost commensurate. He said one-bedroom affordable units are expected to be $1,300, while the market rate would be $1,500; the two-bedroom affordable units would rent for $1,650 and $1,750 market rate; and three-bedroom, $1,850 for affordable units and $2,000 for market rate.

Wise said the project will be submitted to the Massachusetts Housing Partnership in the near future for a project eligibility letter as an initial step in the development process. Wise will seek a 40B comprehensive permit through the board of appeals, which allows local zoning to be waived in communities with less than 10 percent affordable housing stock. The appeals board filing would come after he receives the letter of eligibility from the state. He said MHP has 90 days to act once his request is made.

The Chatham-based developer said the location is ideal for affordable housing given its proximity to the commercial village of East Harwich, where there are 54 businesses within six-tenths of a mile. The development will be able to connect to town sewers along Route 137 and there is a sidewalk to the site, he added.

The access road off Route 137 is fairly narrow and will contain a meadow to the north side of the entrance road. There will be five buildings located along the north side, then the land opens into a larger, nearly square-shaped parcel that will contain the additional 18 buildings off a box-like road design providing through traffic flow.

The rents are expected to include utilities. Wise said he is planning a solar project for the development with the goal of generating enough electricity to cover electric bills, including air conditioning and heating. If not, he told the committee, the rent might have to come down a little and utilities added into a payment.

Wise told the housing committee Monday that he has been meeting with community development officials and having discussions with other town staff about traffic, school bus transportation and other issues. He has also had discussions with the Cape Cod Commission.

Housing Committee Chairman Art Bodin wanted to know if there would be recreation space on the site. Wise said there would be walking trails throughout and added that the meadow area just off the entrance could be fenced in and used as a field.

Wise said storage may be incorporated into each unit. Some units may require outdoor storage, but he said it will fit into the Cape Cod style of the development and not look like a yard sale from K-Mart.

Bodin also asked if there would be onsite management. Wise said on the road off the entrance there will be a two-vehicle garage and an office. He has an office in Chatham and other facilities in the area, said there will be employees on site daily, he said.

“It looks very favorable for you, but there is a long road ahead,” Bodin said. “There will be people out there who will have something to say.”

Wise plans to bring the project to the town’s affordable housing trust this Thursday, adding he also plans to put it before selectmen in the near future.

Bodin said the affordable housing trust is looking for a recommendation from the housing committee. Member Mary Maslowski said she liked what she saw so far, but added a lot is going to happen before a 40B presentation is made, so she did not want to make a final affirmative vote.

Town Planner Charleen Greenhalgh suggested a motion supporting the preliminary plan, which the committee approved.