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Defend Affordable Housing at April 30 Town Meeting

by Carlisle citizen, CRTA member, and Affordable Housing leader and advocate Mark Levitan, April 20, 2018

Affordable Housing is under attack in Carlisle and the Carlisle Housing Authority seriously needs your help at the upcoming April 30, 2018, Carlisle Annual Town Meeting if we hope to increase the economic and social diversity of our Town. Our children deserve to grow up in a community more representative of the world they will live and work in, and our seniors need more options to stay in town.

Please join us in pledging to attend Town Meeting on April 30 at 7 p.m. and add your name to the following petition, by clicking here. Be sure your spouse or significant other attends, too!

“We, the undersigned citizens of Carlisle, support the Carlisle Housing Authority's planned Amendment at Town Meeting on April 30, 2018, to restore funding for a half-time Affordable Housing Coordinator, which has been zeroed out in the Board of Selectmen's FY 2019 Budget proposal.

“Professional staffing is essential in the complex, highly regulated field of Affordable Housing, which involves federal, state, and local housing and non-discrimination laws, a myriad of development and financial requirements, and substantial demographic and economic variables. Expert housing staff is also vital for the development of Carlisle's 2020 Housing Production Plan and the upcoming Master Plan project.

“A Housing Coordinator is fundamental to any hope of creating greater housing diversity for our seniors, for people who work in Town, and for other hard-working people of moderate income. The Amendment will reduce the current hours from 24 to 18.75 per week and reduce funding by over $10,000.”

Click here to sign the petition

For the first time ever, our Board of Selectmen has proposed a Budget that would eliminate all current staffing for an independently elected Carlisle board. The Housing Authority will be offering an amendment at Town Meeting to restore most of the funding. Our amendment will also appropriate the money directly to the Carlisle Housing Authority instead of the Selectmen (similar to how the staffs of the Conservation Commission, Board of Health, Planning Board, and other Carlisle government boards are managed).

The citizen volunteers who are elected to serve on the Housing Authority are committed to expanding the supply of affordable and diverse housing options in Carlisle. However, none of the CHA board members have a technical background in housing, so we depend on professional staff.

Click for more detail on why having a Housing Coordinator is important to Carlisle.

Bedford Road ROSC development

by Janne Corneil, Chair of the Master Plan Steering Committee, October 11, 2017

Carlisle will be undertaking a master planning process over the next two years. The objective of the master plan is to develop a long term plan and shared goals that will guide policy, funding, and prioritization of Carlisle’s resources. The planning process that our committee is refining now has two important attributes:

  1. It will have a robust community engagement process that will ensure a rich dialogue with all community members (not just the usual suspects); and
  2. It will embrace an “integrated planning framework” that will ensure that we consider the trade-offs and consequences of independent decisions. Zoning is one of the important tools that allows us to achieve the goals and priorities that come out of the planning process.

The ROSC amendment is a significant zoning change that could have many positive and/or negative effects on future development in Carlisle. The master plan process will require us to weigh all of the competing interests at play in this decision, not just the interests that are lobbying today.

There seems to be a great deal of urgency around this decision, thus a Special Town Meeting. What is driving this urgency? If there was any way that we could insist that this zoning amendment should be considered as part of the full master planning process, that would be the best outcome, in my opinion.

If the Town boards and committees have already decided that this needs to happen quickly, without due process, these are the questions I would ask:

  • What precedent will the Bedford Road ROSC development set?
  • What are the long term risks to us as a town if this becomes an “as-of-right” condition that developers take advantage of?
  • If it does, how can the amendment be restricted so it doesn’t have a negative impact on the long term health and sustainability of our town?
  • What are our collective goals concerning housing diversity, land conservation, energy conservation, fiscal health, etc? Does this project allow us to achieve our goals? Do we even know what our shared goals are?
  • Are 1,700–3,000 square-foot structures the right size to promote economic diversity? (Does that allow them to build all 18 units at 3,000 square feet?)
  • What are the housing types and sizes that should be considered to diversify our housing stock and so attract and retain diverse people and families? What are the requirements for how the houses are arranged/clustered?
  • What about parking, water, and septic impacts?
  • What about 40b?

My personal opinion is that clustering new housing to preserve open land is a brilliant idea if it

  • produces housing diversity that accommodates people we would like to have in our town;
  • is designed as an intentional community and not as a slightly smaller version of the 2-acre scattered houses we have everywhere else in town;
  • is a model of sustainability: energy efficient, net zero emissions, water conservation, LEED certified, etc.

Thanks for listening.

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