Affordable housing proposed for Newman Hall lot in Putney


PUTNEY — The Director of Housing Development for the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust of Brattleboro recently presented a preliminary site plan and building elevations for an affordable housing project to the town's Affordable Housing Committee.

Katie Buckley, director of Housing Development for the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, appeared before the committee on Dec. 15 to talk about an affordable housing project proposed for the Newman Hall lot, which is located between Depot Street and Putney Landing Road, south of Curtis' All American Barbecue. The project would include a mix of family and smaller apartments for a total of 18 apartments with a combination of townhouses and accessible flats. The site plan presented at the Dec. 15 meeting showed three structures in a U-shaped arrangement around a south-facing courtyard.

"The need for affordable housing in Putney is very present and it has existed for years and years," said Phillip Bannister, former chair of the Affordable Housing Committee. Bannister said the committee has provided a set of recommendations to WWHT and has discussed rehabbing the Depot Street property for at least the last 12 years.

WWHT develops affordable apartments throughout Windham and Windsor counties, and provides property management services and supportive services that seek to ensure long-term resident stability. WWHT recently completed the $2.4 million renovation of the Planz House, 27 Depot Road, into affordable apartments.

It has been proposed that access would come from Putney Landing Road, not Depot Street, and that Newman Hall would be removed. Buckley also noted that town water and sewer are available and that the site is within walking distance of the village. The project remains in the feasibility phase and may be "bundled" with the purchase of the structure of the Noyes House, which would operate as affordable housing. The Noyes House would be configured with four one-bedroom units in the main house, and three single-room occupancy units in an existing wing. According to WWHT Executive Director Connie Snow, WWHT has owned the Noyes House land for about 20 years and the building is owned by Putney Cares. No drawings of the Noyes House were presented at the meeting.

"We're really excited about what seems to be an opportunity to meet the needs of affordable housing in Putney" said Snow.

The project architect is S2 Architecture of Shelburne and it is in the early stages of site design and building concept for the site at the Newman Hall property. The presentation on Dec. 15 was the first public presentation of the proposal in Putney and no permitting or funding has been obtained at this point.

"It would be attractive, energy efficient and walking distance to the downtown area, and that just doesn't happen everyday where you can achieve all of that," said Snow. "We're excited to talk to more people in Putney and hear their thoughts."

According to Snow, in terms of energy efficiency they would like to have a robust building envelope and use wood pellet boilers. She also said they would seek energy efficient windows.

An open discussion followed the presentation, and according to the meeting minutes, the overall response from the committee was positive. Some members expressed strong concerns with the significant need for affordable housing in Putney and stated their immediate support for the proposal. Others expressed the desire for additional information and time to discuss possible concerns before offering their full support. Committee member Lyssa Papazian noted that the committee could actively serve as public advocates for affordable housing in Putney, including this proposal if it were to be supported by the committee, and for smaller projects, like accessory apartments.

It was noted that the committee has been inactive for some period of time, possibly up two years. Eva Mondon, a former committee member, expressed interest in serving again and the committee agreed to meet monthly to determine its in the community as well as the WWHT process.

"Our plan is to start meeting with some of the town committees that oversee development and to continue meeting with the affordable housing committee and to finalize the concept and move forward with applying for funding," said Snow.

Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275.


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