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June 28. 2012 10:20PM

Work force housing project approved in Windham

WINDHAM — Windham’s second work force housing project was approved Wednesday evening despite the concerns of some abutters.

Cricket Ridge is a work force housing subdivision to be constructed off Meetinghouse Road. The development includes 12, single-family houses on 12 acres of land. Three houses will be deeded as work force units, which, in Windham, sell for about $278,000 to families earning about $85,000.

One of the conditions of approval stipulates that no more than two work force housing units will be adjacent to each other.

Developer Bob Pliskin said he plans to build quality housing.

“I wanted to make sure the project would be something I’d be proud to live next to,” Pliskin said.

The project was first proposed in 2010 but denied a Planning Board hearing because the board said it did not meet zoning requirements and needed a variance.

After a court appeal, the Zoning Board of Adjustment granted Cricket Ridge developers a variance, ending the need for a court case and allowing the application to go before the Planning Board.

The variance specifically referenced three work force housing units and nine market rate units. The town has since passed a work force housing ordinance requiring 50 percent work force units.

Since the project was now being reviewed under the new ordinance, developers sought a waiver to reduce the required number of work force housing units.

“This project works at 25 percent,” said engineer Karl Dubay of the Dubay Group. “If we go any higher than that the numbers don’t work.”

A fiscal analysis showed a profit margin around 12 percent with three units of work force housing that drops .5 percent with the addition of a fourth affordable unit.

“Still, Mr. Pliskin is committed to do this,” Dubay said.

Nancy Maloof-Winn lives in Westwood, Mass., but had an interest in the house owned by her brother Jim Maloof on Meetinghouse Road. Winn claimed that the review process was flawed and the Planning Board bolstered Dubay’s credibility.

“With all due respect, we have not been provided a neutral and detached board,” Winn said.

Winn argued that the variance from the previous ordinance granted to the project by the ZBA was void because the ordinance was “vague and unconstitutional.” She further argued that the new work force housing ordinance was also “unconstitutional, arbitrary and capricious.”

The subdivision would deny abutters the quiet enjoyment of their property, Winn said.

Providing evidence of “a glut of houses on the market,” Winn questioned the need for another work force housing project in town.

“This board should not be granting work force housing,” Winn said.

Dubay said the board had been extremely thorough, and he provided all the documentation it requested.

“We’re following the regulations. We’re following the rules,” Dubay said.

The board voted five to one to grant a waiver allowing three work force units. Member Ruth-Ellen Post voted against the motion because it specifically mentioned the waiver granted by the ZBA.

The project was unanimously approved with conditions. Construction cannot start before the 30 day appeal period is over.

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Julie Hanson may be reached at Jhanson@newstote.com.


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