BRATTLEBORO — Four more homes and a lap pool were approved locally for a planned residential unit known as Black Mountain Estates.
"We're waiting on the Act 250," said developer John Brunelle of the state permit that addresses environmental concerns. "This is for people (aged 55 and older) who don't want to be burdened with home ownership and repairs and maintenance and taxes."
The four homes will be constructed at the Black Mountain Road site on land above where the current homes were built. An indoor and outdoor lap pool will be installed next to the new ones.
Brunelle recalls obtaining a permit for the larger project in September 2014 then spending the next year on infrastructure. The engineers were not sure how much fill would be left over but there was a surplus allowing for the expansion approved by the Development Review Board on Nov. 16.
Most of the residents signing leases at the unit dubbed "a retirement community of individual homes" are from the area, according to Brunelle. His wife Lori said some of the residents moved away but returned to be closer to their children.
"They want to live somewhere like this," she said. "They were really happy we were doing this because there's nothing like this around."
The couple started planning the project in 2012 after 15 years of talking about the idea. They were waiting on the right piece of property.
To date, 31 houses have been built along with a community center and maintenance building. Altogether, 35 homes will be rented out.
This week will see the arrival of the 15th resident. Nine more people are lined up to move in, staggered on a schedule of one every three weeks. Several homes are still available.
"We built 28 of the homes in one year and we finished off the insides of 13," said Brunelle. "That's pretty fast."
Brunelle saw "a big need" for this type of housing, which he says is for residents with a middle income. Retiring baby boomers looking to get away from home ownership are coming in large numbers, he told the Reformer.
Rates are as low as $2,175 a month, according to blackmountainliving.com where more information and photographs can be found. Renters get to choose colors and pick out how home interiors will look. Each unit comes with two bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room and more. Sizes range from 1,385 to 1,750 square feet. Plowing and mowing is included.
Having owned a construction company for nearly 40 years, Brunelle said he knew what the "real costs" would be when approaching a project of this scale.
"We didn't really run into any surprises or any things that really changed the cost or anything," he said of his biggest venture to date. "I don't think it will be difficult to manage."
Heating and air conditioning, insulation and LED lighting were touted by Brunelle who worked with Efficiency Vermont on the project. He said the homes are extremely inexpensive to heat and power up.
All the buildings have one floor and are set up in a way that allows residents space for a caretaker if necessary. But, it hasn't been an issue just yet.
"Everyone that's moved in here aren't at the level where they need that care," Brunelle said. "They got an extra room in the house. You can grow very old here before you have to go into an institution if you can get around the house."