Housing Board Crafting Criteria for Possible Affordable Homes for Seniors
The Barrington Housing Board of Trustees eyes a 12-home development on George Street, perhaps with an age restriction.
Barrington’s housing board started batting around on Tuesday night criteria for a developer to build 12 homes, perhaps for senior citizens, on a 2.8-acre piece of land on George Street.
The land was purchased by Barrington several years ago with approximately $277,000 from the Spencer Trust as part of a larger 9-acre parcel – most of which will be made into a cemetery.
The smaller parcel will be sold to a developer for the homes, up to 8 of which are expected to be designated as “affordable” with a possible age restriction.
“This is a starting point,” said Steve Martin, chairman of the Housing Board of Trustees, of the criteria. “I want you to tear it apart.”
Indeed, no decisions were made on the criteria for a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) that is expected to identify interested developers – one of which will have to meet the established criteria for “best fit” for this project, said Martin.
“The developer would take title and the risk and sell the homes,” he said. “So we need to decide what’s important to us and what controls.”
The rough draft of the RFQ, proposed by Martin, shows:
A minimum of 12 dwelling units in either single-family or duplex style, or a mix of both.
The homes would be ownership units – not rentals.
The housing board would like to see a mixed-income project with a at least 8 lower-middle income units; the rest sold at market prices.
The housing board would like to see the project designed and marketed as a senior development.
The housing trustees would retain approval rights on the architectural, civil, mechanical and landscaping designs.
The trustees want to emphasize long-term affordability/renewable energy sources, with a goal of providing 50 percent of the total energy usage by renewable sources.
The design would recognize the rural nature of the neighborhood, which sits adjacent to Four Town Farm.
A second draft of the criteria will be put together by housing trustee Carla DeStefano for the March meeting.
The board also was warned by Gary Morse of Barrington, a frequent critic of the state’s affordable housing mandate, that the RI Attorney General’s office has been asked by him to look into the purchase of the land with Spencer Trust money.
“I don’t want you to be surprised,” Morse said. “But the attorney general has taken an interest in this.”
At the time of the purchase, Morse said, Barrington had not formally set up the trust to benefit “poor and unfortunate” residents of Barrington. That happened only a few weeks ago.
He questioned whether the disbursement of the cast before the trust was legally established creates an obstacle to a clear title for a developer.