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Select Board allocates veterans housing funds | News

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.

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