The Chelmsford Board of Selectmen voted unanimously on Monday night to support a $31 million project presented by Chelmsford Housing Authority Executive Director David Hedison.
“This is not free housing; this is low and moderate,” clarified Hedison. “I can’t think of another site that would not cause controversy,” he added.
The proposed location for the project is at 261 Littleton Rd. and would need to be approved at Town Meeting before becoming a reality.
“This is one of the top sites that was in the Chelmsford Affordable Housing Plan which was approved by the Board of Selectmen in the planning board in 2011,” said Hedison. “It’s a site where we will realize some significant improvements,” he continued.
Hedison warned against mixing affordable housing with market value housing. “I didn’t want to see a development where we throw in 20 percent affordable and all the rest is market rate; we’re really not impacting the residents that need this type of housing,” he said.
Board member George Dixon Jr., a former member of the Affordable Housing Committee commented, “This is exactly why we put the affordable housing plan together to keep out predatory 40B developers.”
John Edward, a representative from the Housing Advisory Board commented, “We never imagined that it would be this affordable.” He continued, “To have all of the units be designated as affordable, plus being truly affordable, and not Chapter 40B affordable is remarkable.”
Hedison informed the board that 15 percent of the development may have Section 8 vouchers.
The project would be done in two separate phases under two separate funding plans.
“We’re going to be able to bring in over $20 million of other funding from the state, which is awesome,” Hedison said.
The town would take approximately 18-24 months to acquire the property.
Hedison did not envision the first phase of construction to be completed until the Fall of 2016 with the second phase ending in the summer of 2017.
The project would feature amenities such as elevators, a townhouse, green space, and a pool.
The Board of Selectmen will provide positive feedback to the state of Massachusetts in an effort to have the project approved.
Board member Pat Wojtas summed up the discussion succinctly, “It’s the right location; the right number of units, I don’t see any reason to object to it.”