TOWNSEND — Selectmen have signed all the paperwork necessary to forward a 2010 Community Development Block Grant Program application shared jointly with Lancaster that totals $972,000.
Application deadline is Feb. 12.
Some $760,000 will be available for housing rehabilitation in both communities, addressing 24 housing units, 12 in each town. Sixteen housing units (eight in each town) can receive $30,000 in grant money. The remaining eight (four units in each town) can use $35,000.
Working with Shelly Hatch of the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission, Selectmen Robert Plamondon and chairman David Chenelle signed a Joint Authorization Form signifying Townsend will work with Lancaster and an Interlocal Agreement that spells out the responsibilities of each community.
“We still could use a few more applications (for rehab) from the (previously voted West Townsend) target area,” Hatch said. “That’s anyone who needs any type of housing rehabilitation — bugs, septic, heat, roof, windows or structural repairs.”
Selectmen also signed a Program Income Certification Form indicating Townsend is holding $87,868 CDBG dollars from a previous Ashby/Townsend joint grant program.
A few weeks ago, the board voted to spend up to $30,000 for an emergency housing rehabilitation project, leaving a balance of $57,978. At a public hearing last month, selectmen and Hatch discussed asking the town to vote to use some of the remainder as matching funds for the new application.
Plamondon, curious as to what happens to any remainder from the $30,000 emergency project, was told it would be used as a residual for another project.
Chenelle asked if this year’s application would be hurt if the entire $57,978 were to be used. Hatch suggested some of the money could be slated for use elsewhere.
A resulting motion by Chenelle to dedicate just $15,000 of the on-hand money as matching CDBG grant funds was passed.
The CDBG grant money comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and is distributed through the state Department of Housing and Community Development.
About $162,000 of the $972,000 total grant request would be administrative costs.
Another $50,000 will be used for public social services such as financial wellness classes, pre-foreclosure counseling for those in arrears on mortgage payments and classes for the elderly about reverse mortgages, Hatch said.
Perhaps the vote by selectmen having the most immediate effect on the CDBG application was their acceptance of a Community Development Strategy that MRPC refined from a draft document presented last month.
In broad terms, the goals include: maintenance of the town’s historic rural character and preservation of open space; provisions for septic upgrades, housing rehabilitation and land use planning; and providing core services using volunteers and grant funding.
One goal of the strategy is to increase affordable housing by replicating existing affordable housing through rehabilitation, adding small, scattered new home sites and encouraging development of accessory apartments and mixed use housing units.
Other affordable housing goals include development of an inclusionary zoning bylaw, modifying transfer of development sites to favor affordable housing, promotion of “infiltration” where possible and modification of the apartment bylaw.
Townsend mandates a minimum two-acre lot size. If an existing lot with less than that area can meet Title 5 and water supply requirements, another amendment would allow development for affordable housing.
The Community Development Strategy calls for creative alternative approaches to transportation infrastructure as new housing, commercial and industrial properties are built. Development of pedestrian and non-motorized use of trails is encouraged.
Other components call for creation of a business-friendly environment and promotion of tourism.
Topping the priority list for projects within a three to five-year time frame is stabilization of the town budget — continuing to maintain needed services and projects as revenue declines.
The second priority is maintenance of affordable housing by making the 2010 CDBG application with Lancaster for the joint housing rehabilitation program.