TEWKSBURY — The Tewksbury Select Board met on Aug. 9, 2022 at town hall.
The board approved the warrant for the state primary on Sept. 6, 2022, and appointed election staff and police assignment details. Town Clerk Denise Graffeo encouraged voters to check their voting location as some precincts have changed.
The board discussed Tewksbury Home Build projects on two town-owned lots with THB president Bruce Panilaitis. Town Meeting approved the use of land on Florence Avenue, Rebecca Lane, and Cart Path Road to add five affordable homes to the town’s stock by 2024.
Panilaitis said that the Cart Path Road project is on hold as lot line details are resolved, but asked the board to formally transfer ownership of the Florence and Rebecca lots to the nonprofit.
Board members raised issues of back taxes on the Florence Avenue property, which has nearly $150,000 in debt; THB planned to cover back taxes through affordable housing trust fund monies.
Member James Mackey said that the town should sell the lot on the private market to cover the costs, but the board voted 4-1 to approve the transfer with Mackey dissenting.
The board returned to a discussion on veterans affordable housing.The board voted to appropriate $500,000 to veterans housing nonprofit Soldier On to build 21 units of affordable housing for veterans at 1660 Main St. The board previously declined to commit an additional $500,000 to an original $350,000 request. The allocation amounts to about 10 percent of the total affordable housing trust fund balance.
Members Jay Kelly and Mark Kratman voted against the funding.
The board reviewed the town’s 2022 housing production plan with Chris Hayes of the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments and Assistant Town Manager Steve Sadwick. They shared that 30 percent of households in Tewksbury are housing cost burdened, meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their income towards housing.
Because the town is expected to fall beneath the 10 percent affordable housing threshold once the 2020 census is certified, Sadwick and Hayes discussed several types of affordable housing to develop a future housing plan. The town will be hosting pop-up events at the community market and public meetings to gather resident input on strategies for affordable housing.
The board reviewed a presentation on the new DPW/school maintenance facility.
The board approved a common victualler license application from Starbucks for the new 3,331 square foot facility on Main Street. The shop is expected to open on Sept. 26.
The board returned to an ongoing discussion on an unpermitted contractor yard at 1323 South St. on the Andover border. The board planned to send another letter to the Town of Andover to request action be taken on the issue, as several residents have complained of noise and landscape issues.
The board voted to appoint former Planning Board member Eric Ryder, who recently resigned, back to the elementary school building committee as Planning Board designee. The board also appointed new Assistant Superintendent of Schools Lori McDermott to the committee.
During committee reports, Mackey shared that cybersecurity company Dragos is donating about $95,000 to the town in free services and technology to protect critical infrastructure and help secure water and power systems.
Board members also shared their four priorities for the year, including addressing aging infrastructure, affordable housing stock, completion of Route 38, and creating a positive relationship with Tewksbury State Hospital.
The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 13, 2022. Residents may find previously recorded meetings at youtube.com/TewksburyTV. The meeting may be viewed on Comcast channel 99 and Verizon channel 33 or attend in person at town hall.