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HAC in the News

Dennis housing project on a smooth track

Posted on Thu, Jun 09, 2011

Twenty-four units of affordable housing are coming to Route 134 in South Dennis.

But not tomorrow.

The Housing Assistance Corporation, which won the bid for the project on the former Melpet Farm property, is at work behind the scenes following Dennis residents’ approval of a $150,000 Municipal Housing Trust loan to fund pre-development expenses at the May 3 annual Town Meeting.

“That’s a huge step,” said Valerie Foster, MHT chairwoman. “Behind the scenes paper-pushing takes a great deal of time and patience. The money approved at Town Meeting will go a long way to pay the architectural, engineering, attorney and permitting fees.” It’s also costly to prepare the lengthy applications for funding the $6.4 million project.

Kate Ferreira, HAC’s housing development project manager, expects to have all pre-development work completed by December. “It’s rare that a project is funded in the first application round,” she said. “We will use the agencies’ feedback to improve our applications, hoping for full funding in the second round.” Ferreira expects full funding by the spring or summer of 2013.

HAC has applied for $3.4 million in tax credit and will seek $500,000 in Community Preservation Act funding, $550,000 in federal housing funds, and $1 million in state affordable housing trust funds.

“The cost can change during the time they’re waiting for construction,” Foster said. “This is a preliminary budget and a moving target until the day we close. But Dennis residents can rest assured that in the request for proposals, we specified exactly what we want.”

HAC has conducted preliminary meetings with the fire and engineering departments, the Old King’s Highway district committee and the board of health to determine their requirements in order to streamline the permitting process. “We have made changes based on their input,” said Gisele Gauthier, HAC’s director of housing development.

The OKH committee was scheduled to consider HAC’s requests for demolition and construction, including solar panels on the buildings’ roofs on Wednesay night, June 8, after The Register’s deadline. On June 20, HAC will bring the project before the planning board and on July 14, the board of health will review the project. Town Engineer Joe Rodricks has contracted Fay, Spofford & Thorndike of Burlington to conduct a summer traffic study along Route 134 from Bob Crowell to Setucket roads.

Foster, who also serves as executive director of the Chatham and Harwich housing authorities, said developing affordable housing is a lengthy process. “You wait and wait and wait, but when you see the first building come down, pay attention,” Foster said. “ Construction will go into overdrive, and the project will be up and operating in a year.”

Nicole Muller can be reached at nmuller@wickedlocal.com.