We need a harder look at housing goals and how to achieve them. Royal Crest has (108) three bedroom units. Many families live or have raised their children there. The developer constantly refers to building luxury and high end, but are the current Royal Crest families going to be able to afford to rent there? Even if they could, the plan is to significantly reduce the number of three bedroom units.
The plans called for (42) market rate which history shows the new rent will be much higher for those and only (10) affordable three bedroom units. So when people talk about reuse, they have to realize these are families who’ve made their homes here. The other developments are limiting bedroom count too. FIFTY SIX households will be displaced and no adequate replacement unit will be constructed for them to move into.
10 months of Select Board and Planning Board meetings and no focus that Royal Crest is one of our largest Environmental Justice areas, comprising a minority population greater than 25%. Again, the moratorium is about cumulative impacts and we can parse details on Royal Crest when that is brought to a future town meeting, but rehabbing an Environmental Justice area, throwing in a handful of affordable units, reducing bedroom count, adding high end retail and selling $750,000 townhomes meets most people's ideas of gentrification. Some people want to see Royal Crest redeveloped solely on its exterior appearance, want higher priced housing and have said that’s what happens when you rent. Sadly, there has been almost no discussion about the impact of bulldozing an entire Environmental Justice area.
With all of these prior plan approvals, it's about the income that will come into the town and not necessarily what’s needed in the town. When has the planning board or town simply said no, we’d like you to build this type of housing instead of what you propose or we won’t approve the plans?
The Master Plan mentions reuse but never discusses possible impacts. The moratorium is about taking a pause to look at all aspects and impacts. People will volunteer to work on these studies, and they live in town so they have skin in the game. These working groups have been used for decades. Not everything is about money.