Doing the right thing the right way

Plans revealed for proposed affordable housing project
Tue, 10/15/2019 - 10:45am

The meeting room at Boothbay Harbor’s Congregational Church was packed Saturday, Oct. 12 for the first public meeting of the proposed Boothbay Harbor Housing project on Middle Road, Boothbay Harbor.

Leading the informational session was committee chair and Boothbay Town Manager Dan Bryer. The property Boothbay Harbor Housing hopes to develop is 24 acres. Bryer explained to attendees – some potential housing applicants, some abutters and other concerned community members – a nonprofit is being set up with a vision to “bring affordable housing to Boothbay Harbor and local communities. Provide housing to those who have a problem putting together a large down payment to purchase a comfortable and affordable new home. To provide an economical house as related to maintenance and monthly expenses.”

The initiative will potentially have 37 units in three house plans, from a two-bedroom, 1,000 square foot design, to a 1,250 square foot, three-bedroom design, and a 1,500 square foot, three-bedroom design. The average plot size will be just under half an acre. The purchase prices will be $175,000, $200,000 and $225,000 respectively. The buyer will be responsible for 80% of the purchase price, with the nonprofit contributing 20%. That 20%, described by the committee as a “mortgage provided by donor,” will be interest-free and reduced at the rate of 10% per year for 10 years; so after 10 years, the loan will be forgiven in total.

Bryer explained, the number of houses has been determined by the provision of town water and sewer for the site. If the committee had not achieved water and sewer approval, he said, the number of houses would have been considerably smaller. However, he stressed, the plan is still a “concept and we still have to wait for the hard numbers to come in. The ultimate number will come from the review process.”

Manufactured homes are not being considered. “The whole concept is that the houses will be ‘stick-built.’ We want you to be able to gain equity and build equity, with as low maintenance costs as possible. We want these to be as affordable as possible.”

When asked about prospective builders and schedules, Bryer said, “The project will be phased. We envision five to 10 houses at a time. We are confident that the need is there. The buying process is still being formulated. Right now we’re working on the physical plan. We’re working with the Boothbay Harbor Planning Board and (Codes) Department and want to do the best we can to be good stewards.” Builders will be sought through a phased bidding process, he said. Boothbay Harbor Housing hopes construction on the first homes will start in May 2020 but it was important that they get it right, for everybody, Bryer said.

“A lot of thought process went into this particular piece of property. It’s about 1000 feet from the end of Emery Lane. You can walk to school, Hannaford, the YMCA, Bryer said. “This is not just building homes; it’s building a community. It’s all about, I believe, the right thing. We want to do the right thing the right way.”