TOWN OF MARION
AFFORDABLE HOUSING TRUST
June 30, 2008
MEMBERS PRESENT: Reg Foster, Chairman
Ora Mae Torres
Jon Henry (7:10 p.m.)
ALSO PRESENT: Paul Dawson
Julia Deane Crowley
Commencement – Mr. Foster called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m.
Approval of Minutes
Moved by Mr. Grady and seconded by Mr. Blanchette to approve the minutes of June 9, 2008. VOTE: 6-0-0
LITTLE NECK VILLAGE EXPANSION PROJECT – NEXT STEPS
Statement by Little Neck Village Residents
Residents Dorothy Burrill and Helen Westergard addressed the Trust.
Mr. Foster said he placed the statement from the residents at the beginning of the agenda because he thought their input was very important given all of the agenda items tonight.
NOTE: Mr. Henry joined the meeting at this time.
During the discussion Ms. Burrill voiced concern for the following:
Mr. Foster’s June 12 statement to local newspapers “it is essential that the project be approved as soon as possible so that Marion will henceforth be immunized against new, unfriendly Chapter 40B projects”.
The proposal is not in keeping with the original intent for Little Neck Village, which was to keep the land and apartments for elderly citizens.
The residents were originally told that the bids would be available for viewing in the library; they were subsequently informed by that the bids would not be available for viewing. Mr. Dawson explained that the bids would not be public records until: a. the evaluation committee completes its evaluation; b. the deadline for the evaluation passes by.
Ms. Burrill requested that the Trust revisit the whole proposal and look for another site for an affordable housing project.
Mrs. Westergard said residents were told on several occasions that bids would be made available to study and were told at the bid opening that the bids were confidential according to the provisions of Chapter 30B. Mrs. Westergard noted that the RFP itself states that all proposals submitted would be public information; she said Mr. Dawson told her that information was not correct. Mrs. Westergard said Mr. Dawson’s final response was that the proposals would remain confidential until after the evaluation committee made a selection. She said that leaves the residents at the mercy of the Trust to decide what is best for them without any input from them. Ms. Burrill questioned the transparency of the whole process.
A second letter, signed by Ms. Burrill, Mrs. Westergard, and E. Suzanne Peterson, was submitted. The letter is a request that the Trust set up an advisory board that would include residents of Little Neck Village and the surrounding area.
Mr. Foster said he had made a mistake when he announced that the proposals would be made available during the evaluation process, it was a well-intentioned mistake, and it never occurred to him that Chapter 30B, Section 6, had the requirements that it did.
Mr. Foster said the Trust has been seeking input for the last nine months, with public hearings and meetings and articles in the four local newspapers. He said any and all input is welcome at any time and offered to give his cell phone number to anyone present. He stated that democracy is in process here and he is very confident that a consensus will be reached.
Report on the Receipt of Proposals
Proposals were received from three developers; the proposals contained a total of ten options that will be considered. Mr. Foster said the information must remain confidential to maintain the integrity of the selection process.
Selection of the Evaluation Committee
Mr. Foster explained the selection process:
· The Trust recommends an evaluation committee to Mr. Dawson, Chief Procurement Officer, who will appoint the committee members
· Due to the constraints of the Open Meeting Law, no more than three members of the Trust can be on the committee
· He recommends that the Chairman of the four major Boards (Planning, ZBA, Board of Health, and Conservation Commission) that will be involved in the permitting process be part of the committee. Mr. Dawson and Attorney Witten have both indicated that having the Chairmen involved in the evaluation process is both legal and appropriate
· The evaluation committee will make a recommendation directly to Mr. Dawson, who will make the final decision.
Rev. MacFarlane, Mr. Grady, and Mrs. Torres voiced support for the inclusion of the various Chairmen in the evaluation committee. Rev. MacFarlane asked if the committee would be able to ask Mr. Dawson and Attorney Witten for advice and was told yes.
Mr. Blanchette asked if Mr. Dawson would be part of the committee as an ex officio member and was told no. He asked if Mr. Dawson would be invited to the meetings and was told yes.
Moved by Mr. Foster and seconded by Mr. Grady to have a seven person evaluation committee made up of three members of the Housing Trust and the Chairmen of the Planning Board (Mr. Winters, who is Vice-Chairman), Board of Health (Mr. Johnson), Zoning Board of Appeals (Mr. Wedge), and Conservation Commission (Mr. Hills). The three members of the Housing Trust will be Mr. Foster, Mrs. Torres, and Mr. Grady. VOTE: 7-0-0
Mrs. Torres asked if all members of the evaluation committee will understand the importance of maintaining confidentiality; Mr. Foster said that will be stressed at the first committee meeting. Mr. Dawson said the committee will not be provided financial information that was included in the proposals received.
Request for an Advisory Committee
Mr. Dawson and Trust members discussed having an advisory committee. Rev. MacFarlane said he believed the original intention was to have a committee of residents that had a way to communicate to the Trust in its role as the Affordable Housing Trust. Mr. Grady said in his past experience as Chairman of a Housing Committee there was a tenants’ association and the association’s representative was on every meeting agenda whether they had anything to say or not.
Mr. Johnson said as a member of the evaluation committee it was his understanding that the work of advising has been completed and ten proposals have been received. The evaluation committee’s role is to evaluate the proposals and the time to change the criteria has passed.
Mr. Foster said the Trust has had five public hearings and numerous newspaper articles. Mr. Heaton said the committee might have some questions during the process and might be able to get some input from the residents.
Mr. Hills said the evaluators should be the only ones to see the documents and if they have questions they have to go through Town Counsel.
Mrs. Torres said that relates to her concern about the confidentiality of the process and she would be very upset if something was done by an individual to make the process null and void.
Mr. Dawson said the Trust spent a considerable amount of time gathering information, meeting with developers, getting information from other communities, having a series of public hearings including large meetings with other Town Boards, and have put together the best bid package that they could. The only thing that is happening now is evaluating the proposals that have been received to make sure that they meet the criteria and this is not the time to change the proposal.
Ms. Burrill said she has been involved in housing in different areas of the state and in those experiences there were always advisory boards. She said the residents understand that they cannot be involved in the procurement process and are not asking for that. She said the Trust should have a community at large member or advisory board and the residents of Little Neck Village do not feel _____________. Ms. Burrill said the residents have told her that they were never asked if they wanted the expansion. Mr. Foster noted that those points have already been made and asked Ms. Burrill to comment on the advisory board going forward.
Mr. Blanchette said it makes sense to have an advisory committee after a decision is made relative to a developer but it does not make sense to create that committee today. Mr. Henry said the Trust does not yet know what the tenant mix will be and they all should be represented. Mrs. Torres noted that the Trust is made up of members of the community and also that some of the members are elected members of the community. Mr. Blanchette recommended that the proposed advisory committee not be limited to residents of Little Neck Village but include other members of the community as well.
Moved by Mr. Grady and seconded by Mr. Henry to table the request for an advisory committee until after the evaluation committee has done its work. VOTE: 7-0-0
Mr. Foster announced that as long as he is Chairman of the Trust he invited everyone present to come to every open meeting of the Trust to offer advice. He also welcomed anyone to approach him outside of meetings and offer advice.
Review of the July evaluation process
Mr. Heaton described the evaluation process and timeline:
· The evaluation committee will meet the week of July 7 and set up four subcommittees to focus on key issues of the RFP (check references, review legal documents, etc., review architectural proposals, review operating management guidelines), and also set up a meeting schedule
· The developers might be invited on the week of July 14 to make a 1-2 hour presentation to the committee (this would involve three meetings during that week). This is not mandatory and the committee will decide whether to have the presentations or not.
· The evaluation process will begin on the week of July 21 (eight criteria of each proposal will be rated highly advantageous, advantageous, marginal, or unacceptable)
· The committee will meet during the week of July 28 to develop a consensus and make a final recommendation to Mr. Dawson, who will then select the winning developer.
NOTE: The tape broke during the previous conversation
Planning Board chairman Joseph Napoli joined the audience during the conversation and told Mr. Foster that he would be attending the meetings in Mr. Winters’ place.
Natural Heritage Letter – Eastern Box Turtles
Trust members reviewed a letter dated June 27, 2007 from the Division of Marine Fisheries & Wildlife. The project site, or a portion of the site, is located within Priority Habitat and Estimated Habitat of rare or endangered species. The following rare species have been found in the vicinity of the site: Diamondback Terrapin, Common Tern, Roseate Tern, and Eastern Box Turtle. The letter advises the Trust that the project must be reviewed by the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP). If the projects requires a Notice of Intent (NOI) a copy of the NOI should also be filed with NHESP.
Consideration of the Wording of the Marion Affordable Housing Trust Statement
Trust members reviewed and discussed a statement for publication in local newspapers.
Moved by Mr. Grady and seconded by Mr. Henry to approve the statement as amended. VOTE: 7-0-0
Report of Legal Support Subcommittee
Mr. Grady said none of the attorneys he has been in contact with has a lot of knowledge of LIHTC. The subcommittee has come to the conclusion that Attorney Witten is best suited for the role of Special Town Counsel for this project.
Moved by Mr. Grady and seconded by Rev. MacFarlane to appoint Attorney Witten as Special Town Counsel.
Subsequent to the motion it was agreed to table this and allow the Selectmen members to confer and report back to the Trust.
Moved by Mr. Grady and seconded by Mrs. Torres to amend the motion and move to table. VOTE: 4-0-3 (Mr. Blanchette, Mr. Henry, Mr. Cushing abstained)
Little Neck Village Management
Review of Operating Budget, Review of Income Eligibility Guidelines
Mr. Foster announced that the staff work is not yet complete and will be addressed at next month’s meeting.
It was agreed that the first meeting of the evaluation committee will be held on Tuesday, July 8, at 7:00 p.m.
Moved by Mr. Grady and seconded by Mrs. Torres at 8:50 p.m. to go into Executive Session to discuss certain matters under negotiation related to contracts. The Trust will not be emerging to a public session but rather to an adjournment. VOTE: A roll call vote was taken with Mr. Foster, Mr. Grady, Mr. Cushing, Mr. Henry, Mr. Blanchette, Rev. MacFarlane, Mrs. Torres all voting yes.
Reg Foster, Chairman