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Planning Board Minutes 03/25/15


P.O. BOX 602
(508) 696-4270
Fax (508) 696-7341


DATE:~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ March 25, 2015

TIME:~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 6:00 PM

PLACE:~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Town Hall Annex, 66 High Point Lane

ATTENDANCE:~~~~~        Doble, Peak, Robinson, Seidman, and Thompson


6:00 PM~~~~~~~~~ Island-wide Planning Boards re: Work Force Housing and Affordable Elder Housing
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Attendance: Town of Chilmark – Rich Osnoss, Daniel Greenbaum,
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Town of Edgartown – Fred Mascolo, Town of Aquinnah – Peter Temple
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Town of Oak Bluffs – Kris Chvatal and Bill Veno, MV Commission

F. Mascolo opened the discussions at 6:05 PM, noting that there was a concern in the Town of Edgartown that the police force may not be able to replace retiring officers because their replacements will not be able to purchase a home. He believed this was true for all municipal positions.

F. Mascolo did not believe the new workforce was going to afford a house in the private market, or qualify for affordable housing.~ It was the reason he voted for the Four Flags Development. Despite public protest, the Edgartown Planning Board approved the housing development because it provided seven apartments for working people such as teachers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and town employees earning between $40,000.00 to $80,000.00.

F. Mascolo mentioned that the Edgartown Planning Board had also considered the possibility of re-zoning sections in town to permit cluster developments for affordable and workforce housing. He inquired if fellow board members from the Towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark, Oak Bluffs and Tisbury had broached the subject.

P. Temple, Planning Board Chairman in the Town of Aquinnah noted that the MV Commission had been discussing “community housing”, in which the average median income was scaled differently for the Vineyard.~ B. Veno mentioned that the average median income for the island was set at 150% of the state’s median income, and at 80% of medium income to qualify for affordable housing. It’s equivalence in currency was calculated for a family of four to be $80,000.00- $90,000.00 at 80%, and $130,000.00 at 150%.~ P. Temple believed the topic should be expanded to include the need for lower-income work force housing.

B. Robinson thought they should be careful of making a distinction between work force housing and affordable housing, because applicants for affordable housing were in fact part of their work force. He also questioned whether they should rethink the thresholds, and raise the ceiling for affordable housing, and consider purchasing existing properties to meet the state’s 10% affordable housing quota. It was easier and quicker.

F. Mascolo indicated that they’d have to compete with individuals like M Dryoff.~ He explained that M. Dryoff had been purchasing properties under $500,000.00 for rental income.~ In doing so, he increased the value of the lower end properties, so they were no longer “affordable”. B. Robinson noted that it was a lucrative business, not unique to the island, because hedge fund investors had been purchasing real estate globally for rental income. If they wanted to house people quickly and keep their housing stock affordable, they had to focus their resources on existing properties (rentals, purchases multiple units) for reasons stated earlier.

D. Seidman suggested that they could encourage density in the form of apartments or guesthouses to avoid sprawl development and to preserve open space. F. Mascolo thought walk-in basements served that purpose.~ D. Seidman mentioned the use of substandard lots, and suggested a cluster development of 800 sq. ft. – 1200 sq. ft. mini-homes that could be constructed for $25,000.00 using island labor force.~ The Town of Tisbury allowed mobile homes on 3000 sq. ft. lots within a ten acres parcel of land.~ F. Mascolo liked the concept and would support a multi-town development.~ He thought they could save on the cost if they purchased pre-fabricated homes en masse. P. Temple inquired if they were affordable enough for a homeowner to purchase, rent out ‘affordably’ and have a return on their investment. D. Seidman replied in the affirmative.

D. Seidman thought they could also pool their resources to purchase the Admiral Ben Bow Inn in Oak Bluffs and use the space for single room occupancy. He thought it would help if the MV Commission compared the towns’ bylaws and subdivision rules and regulations to help them coordinate and/or standardize some of their regulations.

J. Thompson inquired if a town could create affordable housing or a specific group of people, such as town employees.~ F. Mascolo thought they could, and briefly mentioned a discussion the Edgartown Planning Board held pertaining to the use of 28 acres of town owned land for a Cluster Development.~ D. Seidman clarified that the town could have a preference for municipal employees.~

K. Chvatal, Planning Board member in the Town of Oak Bluffs thought they might gain additional living units if the towns provided property owners with a tax incentive (e.g. lower tax rate or tax abatement) to convert seasonal to year round rentals. The twelve-week seasonal rentals were simply much more lucrative. If the towns reduced the disparity between seasonal and rental incomes to offset property owners’ losses, it could make a difference.~ He understood Provincetown implemented a tax incentive for that purpose.

F. Mascolo inquired if fellow board members were familiar with structured insulated panels (SIPs). He thought they could construct well designed modular homes with SIPs inexpensively. D. Seidman agreed.~ P. Temple recalled P. Jordi from Island Housing Trust mentioned the use of mini- homes at the Affordable Housing Task Force, in which they discussed the idea of approaching the towns with proposal for a standardized house design that was affordable and a basic zoning provision. D.~ Seidman indicated that it was a concept he had discussed with P. Jordi. P. Temple inquired if he understood correctly, that the proposal would not require a public subsidy. D. Seidman replied in the affirmative because it was geared towards the income levels of their working force.

C. Doble inquired about the finer details, such as wastewater. D. Seidman replied that it could be a combination of systems, such as composting toilets, etc. F. Mascolo favored small treatment systems on site. He was not familiar with composting toilets and asked if anyone had information they could share. R. Osnoss, Planning Board member from the Town of Chilmark replied that he had a composting toilet in his house, and explained that it was an energy efficient and self-contained system. It ran on electricity, and did not require any water. R. Osnoss mentioned that his system consisted of a tank that was located in the basement with a fan that ran constantly. It was filled with earthworms that generated topsoil. What little black water the system generated was used on a plant bed, a leaching pit. R or periodically pumped it out on the lawn.

D. Seidman noted that they had to address grey water because of its impact on their watersheds. R. Osnoss explained that the Chilmark Board of Health allowed him the use of a composting toilet, after demonstrating that he had sufficient land area to accommodate a septic field, just in case the self-contained system failed.~ The system has worked well since it was installed years ago. R. Osnoss departed shortly after at 6:34PM.

C. Doble inquired about the typical zoning bylaw amendments D. Seidman thought they had to pursue. D. Seidman replied that the Town of Tisbury currently had a regulation that allowed them to divide a 10 acres parcel of land into 3000 sq. ft. lots. B. Veno inquired about the permitting process. D. Seidman replied that it was a permitted use.
B. Robinson noted that the 10 acres parcel could accommodate approximately 90 lots with accommodations for circulation.~ C. Doble thought the objective was to add density where density existed. D. Seidman clarified that he wanted to scale down the requirement so that they could create 3000 sq. ft. lots on one to two acres parcels.~ F. Mascolo thought a small cluster development (4-5 houses) with an on-site treatment facility was much more palatable.~ B. Robinson inquired if anyone knew how many people were in need of housing. P. Temple replied that the Housing Needs Assessment made a conservative estimate of fifty units per year for people at 80% of the average median income. The assessment however was a few years old.~ D. Seidman added that the statistics recommended a combination of rentals (80%) and ownership (20%). The Dukes County Housing Authority had a waiting list with at least 250 individuals requesting affordable housing.~ P. Temple added that it did not include the elder population who were spending more than 50% of their income on housing.

B. Robinson reiterated that the focus should be on purchasing existing properties.~ B. Veno mentioned that the primary issue was the value of real estate. Unless they controlled the land they should pursue rentals. He asked the boards if they’ve ever considered introducing townhouses on a small scale.~ P. Temple thought they should mix the neighborhoods in terms of income and age, so that they would have both rentals and home ownership.

P. Temple noted that in past discussions on elder housing, it was suggested that if the elderly converted the second floor in the larger homes into ‘affordable’ apartments, and lived in the first floor, it would free their limited income for other essentials.  Depending on the estate’s financial arrangements, the ownership of the house would transfer to IHT or the Dukes County Housing Authority at the time of the property owner’s death.~~ K. Chvatal inquired if everyone had boarding house bylaws. D. Seidman replied in the affirmative.

F. Mascolo understood the Town of Chilmark allowed property owners to create a substandard house lot for an affordable unit. D. Seidman inquired about the limitations. D. Greenbaum replied that it was limited to immediate family members and caregivers, if was not an affordable unit.

D. Seidman suggested that they should start looking at all town owned lands and see if there were any substandard lots on which they could construct a mini-house. F. Mascolo thought property owners would protest the suggestion. D. Seidman believed they had to launch an educational campaign to demonstrate the benefits in pursing alternatives to address the affordability and shortage of housing. If they did not, they were going to experience Nantucket’s fate, where electricians, plumbers, and other tradesmen had to commute to the island. K. Chvatal mentioned that the Town of Oak Bluffs school system was having a problem keeping their teachers because of the expense and commute.~ He asked if the individual towns or the Island Planning Board would consider meeting with the Superintendent of Schools to work out a plan that would provide affordable housing for their teachers. P. Temple noted that the housing issue was impacting other professionals (i.e. MV Community Services, the MV Hospital, etc.) island wide, so that it would make more sense to develop a cooperative effort with the school system to stream whatever funds they may have for housing into a development.

D. Seidman inquired if they wanted to start on this project by looking into modular panels, and small house designs. F. Mascolo thought each town should produce an inventory of town owned lands that could serve as a good location(s) for cluster developments. He thought they could discuss the merits of the various properties and prioritize them accordingly.~ The discussions would include any zoning issues that would have to be addressed. Additional dialogue would follow on topics such as the septic systems, electric, and funding.

B. Veno presented the board members with a list of town owned properties for every town that were developed, protected as open space, vacant or that could be further developed.~ D. Seidman inquired if the list could be reformatted by individual towns. B. Veno replied in the affirmative.~ P. Temple informed the Board that Philipe Jordi had an electronic document in a pdf format that allowed one to search a host of information on a lot by lot basis. D. Seidman believed it was generated by C. Seidel at the MV Commission.~ He asked B. Veno if he would provide the boards a copy of the file. B. Veno agreed.

D. Seidman reiterated that the housing issue required an island wide response. The developments were going to be affordable and kept affordable in perpetuity. F. Mascolo agreed noting that the intent was to help people find a temporary residence that would allow them to move on to a better situation over time.~ B. Robinson thought that if the trend continued affordable housing was going to be “workforce housing”. He thought they had to be careful not create a bifurcated island, in which vacationers will have second homes, while our workforce lives in subsidized housing.~ P. Temple thought it could be a system similar to Vail, CO.

F. Mascolo thought they could also bank a percentage of every rental for the life of the lease, and return the funds to the person if he/she is purchasing a home on the island. If the person(s) leaves the island, the funds were returned to the pool for others to use.~

K. Chvatal noted that the Town of Oak Bluffs had three youth lots on Manchester Avenue, in which two of the three were recently sold in the private market at a substantial profit.~ He questioned the benefit in having such a system, when it reduced their affordable housing stock.~

D. Seidman believed the towns have learned from their experiences over the years, and have resolved the oversight with deed restrictions.~ It was his understanding that the affordable living units were not intended to be a permanent solution for people, but to help renters afford a place to live as their financial circumstances improve, so that they would eventually matriculate out and move into the private market rate properties.~ K. Chvatal did not see how the target population was going to be able to purchase a home ten years down the road, when the land values continued to rise exponentially.~ D. Seidman noticed that some of the subsidized renters in the County of Dukes County had matriculated out of the affordable market to purchase homes in the private market because their salaries had increased over the years.~ Depending on the circumstances, others moved off-island and some continue to rent.

K. Chvatal noted that the Town of Oak Bluffs did not have any large parcels of land that could accommodate a cluster development.~ The few large parcels that remained were privately owned.

P. Temple thought they could also re-purpose buildings, so that facilities like the high school could be used by the elders.~ He explained that he high school offered a gym, auditorium, a library and a host of other amenities that were not being used after 2PM. With some investment, the building could function as a senior center after school hours.~
F. Mascolo redirected the discussions, and asked the boards if they would come to the next meeting with a recommendation for three potential town owned lands that could accommodate a cluster development.~

D. Greenbaum advised the Board that the Town of Chilmark had revised their bylaw to reduce the maximum allowance for the size of a house and did not see a reduction in the number of building permits that were issued since the regulation was adopted a couple of years ago. The one change they’ve observed was that the size of the buildings had decreased from 4200 sq. ft. to 2600 sq. ft.~ B. Veno inquired if they had a threshold. D. Greenbaum replied that they allowed a 3500 sq. ft. building on a 3 acres lot as a matter of right. The size allowance increased with the size of the parcel. Applicants interested in exceeding the maximum allowance were required to apply for a special permit. But they’ve not received an application as of yet.

P. Temple informed the boards that they should consider inviting Matt Poole, the Health Agent in the Town of Edgartown, and member of the Board of Health in the Town of Chilmark to a meeting. He thought M. Poole could provide them with information about composting toilets and on-site septic systems. F. Mascolo agreed to invite M. Poole to the next meeting.

K. Chvatal at the conclusion of the discussions informed the boards that he had just finished writing the first solar energy systems bylaw for the Town of Oak Bluff’s consideration at Town Meeting. He offered to share the text to the boards.

F. Mascolo advised the boards that he looked into D. Reece’s comment about the bio-clear or fast system, and spoke with D. Hoehn.~ He learned that the system took 30 days to start working, so that it wasn’t as effective in its first month as it would be in the second or third, etc. D. Seidman noted that the second homes were not always used for long periods of time, so that if it was used for three weeks, the system would not be effective.~ Additional discussions ensued and F. Mascolo noted that they were in fact much more effective in reducing nitrogen than the conventional systems.

D. Seidman advised the board of an experimental system using wood chips that was being tested to reduce nitrogen. He understood that the wood chips were removing 80% - 90% of the nitrogen.~~ C. Doble noted that G. Haufelder in Barnstable County was very optimistic about the system, and thought they could add the woodchips to individual systems to reproduce the same effects. She thought it would be a great field trip for the boards.

Board members discussed potential dates and agreed on May 20, 2015 at 6 PM.
F. Mascolo offered to host the meeting in Edgartown.

PRO FORM        Meeting opened, conducted and closed in due form at
7:40 P.M.                (m/s/c~ 5/0/0)
Respectfully submitted;
Patricia V. Harris, Secretary

APPROVAL:        Approved and accepted as official minutes;

______________ ~~~~ _________________________
Date~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ Cheryl Doble
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Chairman Pro Tem