Chilmark moving forward with affordable housing project

The committee overseeing the RFP process is looking to go past snags it faced. 

Peaked Hill Pastures RFP Committee chair Lindsey Scott gave an update to the Chilmark Select Board.

The Peaked Hill Pastures RFP committee is attempting to get back on track after some delays. 

The committee received approval from the Chilmark Select Board to hire individuals for the project, and has worked to address conflict-of-interest allegations. 

On Thursday, May 11, the committee met jointly with the select board to determine a path forward for the group. 

The committee was established last year to develop a request for proposals (RFP) for the Peaked Hill Pastures housing project, planned to consist of 10 rental units, two “u-build” homesites, and two “turnkey” owner units. However, the committee has struggled to move forward after finding the town’s current zoning bylaws limit the number of housing units. 

Committee chair Lindsey Scott said Thursday that it was time for the committee to be “moving forward.” 

“I think we can acknowledge there have been a lot of hiccups, both inside of our committee but more really between our committee and the planning board,” she said, adding that it felt like the committee’s responsibilities were not “relinquished” from the Chilmark planning board because of its involvement. “I’m hoping this will be our last time circling back to check on our tail, and we can just move forward.” 

Committee member and planning board chair Richard Osnoss said the group’s configuration was in the hands of select board members. 

“We haven’t gotten anything done in a year, but I believe, maybe, we’re headed in the right direction,” Osnoss said. 

Meanwhile, Scott had a couple of updates for the select board regarding the RFP development. Reid Silva from Vineyard Land Surveying & Engineering, who had been collecting data for the RFP, was nearly done with the first phase of this project, which is expected to cost around $50,000. This phase involved planning, design, permitting, and construction layout. 

“We paused when there were a lot of changes inside of this committee going on, starting a month ago or so,” Scott said. “Reid paused, I think, a little concerned he might not be paid, that this might not be what the town wanted him to do, so he paused. Part of what I would like to do today is to re-engage him to finish phase one only.”

The other recommendation Scott made was hiring consultant Judy Barrett to help “lay out the elements” of the RFP, which is expected to cost a little over $6,000.

The select board unanimously approved moving forward with hiring Barrett and re-engaging Silva. 

Select board member Jim Malkin pointed out that a part of the property was also to be reserved for town and agricultural use, but he was glad progress was being made. 

Another issue to address was potential conflicts of interest. Scott and committee member Fred Khedouri, who both live near the Peaked Hill Pastures project area, were alleged to have a potential conflict of interest through their membership on the committee. 

Both filled out conflict-of-interest disclosure forms with the town, and reached out to the State Ethics Commission. Khedouri said he spoke with a commission attorney who said there shouldn’t be a problem with individuals who live near the project site being on the committee. 

Chilmark planning board member Peter Cook said that the initial charter for the committee included abutters within the membership. 

The select board unanimously approved keeping Scott and Khedouri on the committee. 

A new committee member is expected to be appointed during the select board’s meeting on Tuesday.