Housing forum addresses crisis, ways communities can address need for new construction – Bennington Banner

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ARLINGTON — From huge-picture state insurance coverage policies to small-metropolis selections and dialogues, housing — extra precisely, The briefage of it — has been a pressing problem in Vermont, one made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A discussion board hosted by a pair of state lawmakers Wednesday sought to deal with these challenges, as audio system addressed The want for innovating and taking risks To unravel the state’s housing disaster.

The discussion board was hosted by state Reps. Kathleen James and Seth Bongartz, each of whom symbolize Arlington as An factor of the Bennington-4 district. It was held On the Arlington Widespread, The earlier St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church.

Afternoon panels featured Northshire officers collectively with Manchester planning and zoning director Janet Hurley, Arlington metropolis administrator Nick Zaiac and Manchester metropolis supervisor John O’Keefe, as they talked about housing initiatives and challenges.

Many aligned with the “smart progress” guidelines that Jacob Hemmerick, the group planning and coverage supervisor for the state Division of Housing and Community Enchancment, and Jim Sullivan, of the Bennington County Regional Fee, talked about in an panel dialogue earlier Inside the day.

Those included promoting greater-density mixed use development in downmetropoliss and village facilities, updating native zoning plans final given a full makeover Inside the 70s and 80s, And inspiring The enlargement of workforce housing that addresses the “lacking center” Inside the state’s housing inventory.

However as Hurley, Zaiac and O’Keefe outlined, there are challenges As properly as to alternatives.

Hurley outlined Manchester’s multi-yr effort to revamp its land use ordinance, which had grown outdated and overcomplicated Because it was first enacted Inside the early Nineteen Seventies. However she furtherly famous that neither of The two potential websites chosen for A expert forma research of housing circumstances in Manchester “penciled out” as permitting builders to make again The worth of constructing.

Of these two websites, one — a parcel in entrance of the Hampton Inn and Suites on Primary Road — is now being eyed for a microbrewery. However the second, the metropolis-owned property at 301 Depot Road, is being eyed for potential mixed use housing as quickly as its lease is up in 2023. The Manchester Choose Board voted Tuesday to relevant $100,000 in federal COVID aid dollars To consider that potential.

O’Keefe said the metropolis is Taking A look at 9 models of housing Inside The prevailing retail constructings, And further development of 40 models further again on the parcel, which extfinishs to Middle Hill Road.

Hurley furtherly said A expertvision Inside the revamped zoning plan permitting for adaptive re-use of resorts has, in its first look at case, met a irritating roadblock. The Inn at Willow Pond has been slated for 40 models of workforce housing. However O’Keefe and Hurley said an Act 250 permitting factors with The state of affairs focused on the location of the properly have left the enterprise in limbo.

Zaiac said Arlington is “in Some strategies … At first of The tactic” of revamping its land use legal guidelines. And positively one of Arlington’s first challenges is “extremely political,” he said: whether or not To enhance a sewer line So as that homes Inside The world of Arlington Memorial Highschool might use the water remedy plant constructed for The varsity’s use.

Arlington is pursuing a state grant Which might assist the metropolis replace its land use guidelines, Zaiac said.

“We now Need to assist the dialog and acknowledge That is typically a political course of,” he said. The specified finish product of that course of — extra housing — is “an pressing want for all of us,” he said.

Hurley furtherly said that Manchester Should take a Take A look at its brief-time period rental coverage, but Obtain this with the understanding that brief-time period leases Similar to AirBNB play An important position for the metropolis’s tourism market.

“I really feel that’s one factor We’d Want to consider and one factor as a resort vacation spot we Have to Watch out about,” Hurley said. “Can we Do this in such a method that doesn’t put strain on the housing market?”

About 60 people attfinished the discussion board from throughout the state. Additional audio system included state housing commissioner Josh Hanford and Dominic Cloud, The metropolis supervisor of Saint Albans.

Cloud touted A method that he said labored for Saint Albans — buying for constructings and constructing websites to exert administration over The event course of and decrease prices for builders, So as that mixed-use and workforce housing tasks will work economically.

The return on such investments in Saint Albans, Cloud said, has been that new development has enhanced The metropolis’s tax rolls with out including to residents tax funds.

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