WELLFLEET — The Zoning Board of Appeals signed off on a comprehensive permit on Sept. 22 for Long Pond Village, the 46-unit affordable housing development at 95 Lawrence Road that has been in the works for more than three years. The two nonprofit developers who are partnering to build and manage the project — Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) and the Community Development Partnership (CDP) — can now move ahead with its financing.
Plans for the site include a lower village building near the intersection with Long Pond Road, with 22 one- and two-bedroom flats, and an upper village across from the Wellfleet Elementary School, consisting of 24 one-, two-, and three-bedroom units in townhouses. The developers, working with a task force of local housing advocates and planners, applied for the permit under the state’s Chapter 40B, which allows for a streamlined approval process in communities where the subsidized affordable housing inventory is less than 10 percent of the total housing stock. The state currently lists Wellfleet at 2.5 percent.
Previous efforts to build affordable housing in Wellfleet have gotten bogged down for years in lawsuits filed by abutters. So far, at least, there have been few objections to Long Pond Village.
“This is the first time we’ve had one come before us that had no significant opposition,” said ZBA Chair Sharon Inger.
The board received several letters of support for the development, including a petition signed by the owners of many local businesses. The Cape Cod Commission also sent a letter of support, stating that “the proposal preserved natural space and open space and that it was congruent with community heritage and therefore … consistent with regional planning goals.”
As of Oct. 4, no appeals challenging the ZBA’s vote to approve the permit had been filed. The 20-day appeal window started officially on Sept. 30.
The select board and the developers are now negotiating an agreement governing the use of land, which is owned by the town, said Town Counsel Carolyn Murray. The agreement will specify that 75 percent of the units will be reserved for those earning no more than 60 percent of area median income (AMI). “The remaining units will be ‘community rental units’ intended to accommodate a range of household incomes,” the proposed text of the agreement reads.
All 46 units will count toward Wellfleet’s subsidized housing inventory, though 11 of them will not be specifically designated as affordable housing because they will be made available to renters earning more than 60 percent of AMI.
The lower village building will have three stories, which required a waiver of the zoning bylaw’s height restriction. Inger said that the plan for 95 Lawrence Road was “a bit of a stretch for Wellfleet” because of the need for this and other zoning waivers. “But they made the case for why going up was preferable to cutting down more trees,” Inger said.
Inger attributed the lack of opposition to the permit to the 95 Lawrence Road Task Force, which “was excellent in doing a lot of work to explain to people what it was and why we would need it.” She said the task force made listening to people’s concerns a priority and credited POAH with involving the neighbors in the logistics of the land agreement. “They met and did walk-throughs with the neighbors,” said Inger. “They tried very hard to answer everybody’s questions.”
Mick Lynch, vice chair of the ZBA, raised questions during the Sept. 22 meeting about how vulnerable members of the community — and those intimidated by the required paperwork — would get assistance with applying to live at Long Pond Village. Elaine McIlroy, chair of the Wellfleet Housing Authority, cited POAH’s “incredible outreach program and reputation of working with the community.” She added that the CDP will be providing part-time housing specialist services.
“As former chair of the 95 Lawrence Road Task Force, I just want to say how proud I am of Wellfleet, how I feel we are so lucky to have this partnership,” said McIlroy.
Now that the comprehensive permit has been approved, the developers will begin applying for state funding. Cory Fellows of POAH said during the Sept. 22 meeting that they hope to have funding secured by next spring so that construction can be underway by late 2023. If this timeline pans out, the units could be complete and leases available starting in late 2024, he said.
“This is exciting,” said Inger. “It’s a major step forward for Wellfleet because it’s so many units. We’ve been doing little tiny projects — but this one is amazing.”