Progress reported on Chilmark affordable housing project
Chilmark's Middle Line affordable housing project is moving ahead on several fronts, following the plan's approval at a recent special town meeting.
An architect has offered his pro bono services for the subdivision process, engineering tests are under way, and several other preliminary reviews should be accomplished quickly, selectman Warren Doty reported to his two colleagues at their Oct. 3 meeting.
David P. Handlin, principal in the architectural firm of Handlin, Garrahan, Zachos and Associates of Cambridge, agreed to take charge of the subdivision process, which would bring control of surveying and architectural design under one roof. Mr. Handlin's services would be free of charge, but his support staff would be paid, Mr. Doty said.
"Handlin's offer makes a lot of sense," selectman Riggs Parker said. He suggested drawing up a memorandum of understanding for the work with Handlin, Garrahan, which the board voted to do.
Local engineer Kent Healy also met with Mr. Doty last week to begin work on septic percolation tests. Mr. Healy will be paid by the town out of the $190,000 remaining from an allocation for surveying, engineering, and architectural design.
"I expect low engineering costs," Mr. Doty said, noting that septic systems usually cost about $1,500 each, and nine will be needed for the project. "All expenditures should be directly from the town."
The new affordable housing plan for the 21-acre town-owned parcel on Middle Line Path will be under the town's jurisdiction.
Mr. Doty said that most of reviews that the Martha's Vineyard Commission asked for could be done by town staff. They include: the Natural Heritage Program, open space requirements, compliance with the new energy plan and the water quality protection plan, and the archaeology in terms of Indian artifacts. Those reviews have been assigned and are underway, Chilmark executive secretary Tim Carroll reported.
The board also voted to make the previous affordable housing implementation committee a process committee that will oversee the project. The three members will remain the same. They are Andy Goldman, Lenny Jason, and Mr. Doty.
Mr. Parker also urged that work begin immediately on writing a ground lease for the six home sites. "It seems to be an integral part of the project," he said.
Mr. Doty said the lease would apply specifically to the project's homesites, but could be used later for other projects. The town will remain owner of the land on which individuals will build.
Mr. Goldman, who attended the selectmen's meeting, said that an old list of 14 affordable housing applicants has not been updated recently. He said the committee will ask for new applications after Oct. 16.
"These are great strides forward, and we should be grateful to David Handlin," Mr. Parker concluded.
Mr. Carroll also reported progress on other items approved at the special town meeting. With the $10,000 historic preservation fund allocation, his assistant, Annette Anthony, will make photocopies of the town reports in 10-year increments.
The board approved a contract with Willoughby Restorations to do painting and repairs on the Menemsha Schoolhouse (police station) for the $20,000 allotment. The work is to start immediately.
The North Road and Tabor House Road paving work approved at the town meeting for $100,000 will be done during the week of Oct. 16, Mr. Carroll reported. The road will need to be blocked off for the work.