Chilmark agreement provides new access to Middle Line housing
Chilmark selectmen last week announced an agreement under which the town would buy a parcel of land that would provide better access to a municipal affordable housing project on Middle Line Road. The purchase will need town meeting approval.
Selectmen said they are also near agreement on another plot of land that would provide for more of a buffer between the 12-unit subdivision and the capped landfill and transfer station, plus provide a link in a Land Bank walking trail.
The town-funded Middle Line Road project is located off Tabor House Road, in a heavily wooded upland section of Chilmark. Plans call for a mix of three duplex rental units and six one-acre housing lots on approximately 21 acres.
During the permitting phase of the project, the Martha's Vineyard Commission and the Chilmark planning board expressed concern regarding the entrance off Tabor House Road and asked the town to work to provide a safer access.
Selectmen have agreed to buy a .82-acre lot owned by Beverly Gillis Jaksa, at a cost of $275,000. Selectmen said the new entrance would be safer because of the elimination of an embankment and blind spot present in the current entrance.
They are also negotiating with the Jenkinson and Emin families to purchase a second .72-acre parcel that would provide a buffer and walking trail connector by way of Middle Line and Holman roads that would complete the trail from North Road to Peaked Hill.
Selectmen expect to call a special town meeting within 60 days to seek voter approval of the land purchases and a revised subdivision plan.
Selectmen also heard from Andy Goldman, chairman of the Chilmark Housing Committee, about the possibility of teaming up with the Island Housing Trust (IHT) to "ensure affordability now and in the future." Mr. Goldman said IHT represents community-wide concerns, as opposed to the interest of Chilmark only.
Mr. Goldman said IHT has developed several ways to ensure permanent affordability, such as the use of a 99-year ground lease, a limit on the size of a second mortgage, and the requirement of a deed rider in the event the occupant needs assistance. The Middle Line Road project would differ from other IHT projects, because the land is town owned and developed, as opposed to ownership or acquisition by a private non-profit or land trust.
Selectman J. B. Riggs Parker said he was "enormously concerned about transferring ownership from the town to any organization."
"We just want to put it on the table and air it out," said selectman chairman Warren Doty.