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Neighbors Ask: Is 40B Development A Duck?

Abutters to the affordable housing project proposed off West Street say the development seems like a housing project.

At Monday night's meeting of the Board of Appeals on Zoning, West Street abutters finally had their say on the project they say will disrupt their neighborhood.

Homeowners filled the Town House as the ZBA heard public comment on the proposed project that could place 96 units of affordable housing near the old Potpourri Building not far from the intersection of West Street and Route 27.

"What's the difference between this and a housing project?," asked Marian Lent of Hillcrest Road. "To me, if it looks like a duck, it's a duck."

Lent and others urged Gatehouse to reconsider its mix of 24 one-bedroom units, 48 two-bedroom units and 24 three-bedroom units, saying the larger units will bring more school children to the district which will strain town and school resources. 

After residents had their say, Gatehouse officials said that bedroom make-up -- as well as the fact all units in entire development will be considered "affordable" housing -- was deliberately chosen so Gatehouse could qualify for certain financing programs.

Gatehouse Project Manager James Koningisor said, "It is not at all a duck."

"It is very different," he said. "This is not public housing, this is affordable housing. It is not subsidized housing; people pay 100 percent of the rent themselves. These are working people.  It is developed under a very different program than a public housing development." 

At the hearing in May, Gatehouse told the ZBA its rents (based on current market rates) would be $1,101 for a one-bedroom, $1,321 for a two-bedroom, and $1,526 for a three-bedroom apartment.

Neighbor Mike Festa of Quail Run said he works in the financial market and asked Gatehouse to reconsider the make-up of the development and the programs for which it hopes to qualify.

"It's a landlord's market," said Festa.  "People are dying for places to rent." 

The hearing was continued to Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at which time the ZBA hopes to have information regarding the financial impact the project will have on town resources.

Readers: Check back on Wednesday for more neighbor reaction.

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