MIDDLETOWN — The Affordable Housing Committee on Tuesday night moved to recommend the Town Council pursue an affordable housing project at the Oliphant School site and suggested the council consider a “town house” style development.
The pitched affordable housing development is in the preliminary stages and members of the public will have more opportunities to weigh in as discussions continue. A few residents spoke at the Affordable Housing Committee meeting and raised concerns about potential water run-off from the site and traffic congestion.
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Laurie Bradley, one of the residents, said she had a petition signed by 45 people who opposed the project, citing concerns like a reduction in open space.
“We are also very concerned, as they have already mentioned tonight, about the environment impacts,” Bradley said.
Francis Spinella, president of the consulting and project development firm FJS Associates and consultant for the town on the Oliphant School project, said there would be state mandates in place to ensure proper drainage during construction.
Spinella noted that as the plans progress, experts would weigh in on such factors as traffic flow and mitigation.
Who’s the housing for?
The rental housing at the Oliphant School site would be for people who meet the 60% median income level, or fall below it.
For a one-person household in Middletown at the 60% median income level, that’d be an income bracket of $44,460; for a two-person household, $50,820; for a three-person household, $57,180 and for a four-person household $63,480.
State law defines affordable housing as housing that’s affordable to low- or moderate-income families, those earning 80% to 120% of area median income or less.
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“Eighty percent or less is considered a low-income family. Between 80% and 120% is a moderate-income family,” Ronald Wolanski, the planning director for Middletown, explained in an email to The Daily News last year.
Spinella said the rents for a one-bedroom unit would range from $990 to $1,200 a month; a two-bedroom unit would fetch between $1,191 and $1,300 a month and a three-bedroom unit would rent for $1,375 to $1,500 a month.
Because of the time the development is built, though, those figures likely will have changed, Spinella noted.
Town Council member Dennis Turano, who sits on the Affordable Housing Committee, noted construction is likely three to four years out for this proposed project.
One resident asked who the development would be geared toward: seniors, workforce and/or families. Spinella said it’s “income-driven” and the bedroom sizes would determine if the development would be more senior- or family-oriented, or both.
“We know the needs,” Spinella said. “This development is rented for that income bracket.”
How many units will there be?
Spinella pitched two schemes, but said his preferred one is the “town house” style development.
“I just like the town house feel in a more suburban area,” Spinella said. “(There would be) more green space around each building.” That’s the plan the committee voted to recommend to the Town Council.
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Under this plan, there would be between 15 to 17 units in the Oliphant School building, plus anywhere from 38 to 40 units in the town houses to the north.
What will happen to the baseball field on the property?
The land where the youth baseball field is located on the Oliphant School site would be developed, so it would cease to exist there, Spinella confirmed Tuesday.
“We have a number of recreational fields already in place” across town, Turano said. “We like outside recreation,” but affordable housing is a priority.
There’s a state requirement that 10% of housing units in each community be affordable. The Daily News reported in March of last year that 5.4% of the housing stock in Middletown qualifies as low- to moderate-income housing, which reflects comments made by Spinella on Tuesday, when he said the number was between 5 and 6%.
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“We have a homeless issue, we have an affordable housing issue,” Turano said. “Our goal is to address the need in Middletown.”