Six win Chilmark homesites

Jack Shea

Cameron Parry is one of six Island residents whose dreams came true Tuesday. Along with five other lucky residents, he will be able to afford a home on Martha’s Vineyard.

His quiet joy reflected a level of excitement not often seen in the quiet selectmen’s meetings convened twice monthly in a generally near-empty room.

But as the 7:30 meeting began, selectmen J. B. Riggs Parker, Frank Fenner, and Warren Doty faced a standing room only crowd of nervous applicants, tumbling children, neighbors, well-wishers, and town officials.

The resident winners were selected from 14 candidates, in a series of six lotteries to establish lease rights for one of six approximately one-acre homesites in the Middle Line Road affordable housing complex in Chilmark.

“It’s going to be well built, a good-looking house,” Mr. Parry said, looking at a wall map of the complex, after finding himself a winner. His site, first on the right entering the development, has an address, number 4 Oak Grove, and five soon-to-be neighbors, the result of a process far more complicated than Chilmark’s first lottery of a single affordable homesite in 2009.

Other winners and now prospective homeowners are Jennifer Slossberg, Lev and Jennifer Wlodyka, Jeff and Emily Day, Michele and Chip Leonardi, and Matthew Bradley. Each of the winners will pay $20,000 to the town to help defray costs associated with the project.

Each has one year to begin construction after securing a building permit. The houses will be built on lots leased to the lottery winners for 99 years. The ground leases allow heirs to inherit, provided they also meet key income guidelines, and the leases ensure that the home will remain in the affordable housing stock in perpetuity.

The lottery was far more complex than the drawing for the single site awarded last year, mainly because the 2010 lottery included two separate tiers of candidates. One tier was required by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, which approved this town-sponsored affordable housing development. The MVC requires that one third of affordable housing in such a subdivision be awarded to residents who earn less than the $57,000 average median income (AMI) in Dukes County. So, two of the six houses had to be awarded to residents earning less than that.

Second, Chilmark awards preference to candidates who live, work or volunteer in the town, and the second pool of candidates came from that pool. The Chilmark candidates are required to earn 150 percent or less than the AMI.

As a result, one award and two separate lotteries were held to determine winners of the parcels Tuesday. Todd Christy, administrative assistant to the town’s housing committee, carefully led the assembly through the process.

Mr. Parry was the only candidate who met both the MVC and Chilmark criteria, and a homesite was awarded to him on that basis.

After the other five homesite winners were drawn, subsequent lottery drawings established a list of alternates for each category and awarded specific lots to the winners.

Five other candidates were earning-qualified for the second MVC-mandated homesite, won by Ms. Slossberg of Vineyard Haven. Following assignment of the Slossberg homesite, MVC-mandated applicants drew lots to establish priority as alternates, to receive a lot if Mr. Parry or Ms. Slossberg did not exercise their options.

George and Cristine Kinsman of West Tisbury won the right to be the first alternates for an MVC-mandated lot. Like many of the candidates and several of the winners, they are veterans of Island affordable homesite lotteries, having entered the Jenney Way lottery in Edgartown and the Chilmark lottery in 2009. They are also readying an application for the 250 State Road affordable housing complex under way in West Tisbury.

“This makes me feel like the lottery gods are coming closer,” Ms. Kinsman laughed after drawing first alternate status. “We’re pretty excited. It’s really good to be part of all this.”

The other alternates for an MVC-mandated lot, in order of priority, were: Philippe and Madeleine Ezanno, Tobias and Leslie Myers, and Tim and Nisa Webster.

After awarding the two MVC-mandated lots, lottery action moved to the Chilmark-preferred list of five candidates for the remaining four lots. Danguole Budris was the sole alternate in the Chilmark preference pool behind the Wlodykas, the Days, the Leonardis, and Mr. Bradley.

Remaining candidates, earning up to 150 percent of AMI, were then selected by lottery. In addition to the Kinsmans, alternates are: Benton and Emily Coulter, the Ezzanos, Paul Michael Galligan and Emily Wash, Sara and Michael Bergeron, Tobias and Leslie Myers, Timothy and Nisa Webster.

And the streets have names

Prior to the lottery, selectmen had named the three streets in the complex on which homes will be built. Each home was also assigned a street number on one of the three streets: Beech Grove, Holly Grove, or Oak Grove. The six winners then drew in a final lottery to determine each winner’s lot address.

At the conclusion of the lottery, each winner received a packet of information related to the leasing and homebuilding process and made plans to meet as a group with Mr. Christy today to review the documents and begin to conclude their effort to own a home and raise a family on Martha’s Vineyard.

As the exited crowd thinned, conversation and laughter trailed them out of the meeting room. Mr. Doty, a veteran of nine years of affordable housing planning, sat silently for a moment.

“That felt good,” he said, picking up his agenda.