OLD LYME — The Board of Selectmen on Monday, September 16, approved guidelines for a new exploratory committee charged with making recommendations to the town on building affordable housing.
The charge for the Affordable Housing Exploratory Committee is to provide the selectmen with information, including a current inventory of housing designated as affordable in Old Lyme, a list of available land sites, an identified threshold required of the town to meet the state’s mandate on affordable housing, and additional research to inform the town on efforts toward developing affordable housing.
The committee will work on a timeline of six months to one year, at which point their charge will be considered complete and their appointment terminated unless the selectmen decide to continue it further.
The committee will be comprised of seven members, appointed for the duration of the committee.
First Selectman Bonnie Reemsnyder said at Monday’s meeting that they had already received applications from five residents interested in serving on the committee: Fred Behringer, Michael Fogliano, Karen Winters, Peter Cable, and Harold Thompson.
Reemsnyder said the town is still seeking applications from additional residents to fill out the committee.
“We’re interested in anyone who is interested in serving on this,” she said. “Anyone can go on the town website and download the request-for-appointment form and send it in to us.”
The decision to formalize the committee, comes after months of discussions, and less than a month after the nonprofit Hope Partnership withdrew an application to build a 37-unit housing development adjacent to I-95 Exit 70 in Old Lyme. The plan had sparked significant opposition in the town, and abutters to the property filed a legal challenge against its provisional approval by the town zoning commission.
Resident Karen Winters said she applied to serve on the Affordable Housing Exploratory Committee because she believes that the best outcome for the town will require more research and taking a lead on the issue.
“If we can allow one person, one family, in town to be able to not leave, to stay, to be able to afford living here when they couldn’t otherwise, that’s a win,” Winters said.
Given the problems with the proposed location, Winters said that she was glad that Hope Partnership had withdrawn its application, but was hopeful that the town could identify other opportunities for affordable housing elsewhere in town.
“I think we can do this better. Whatever better is, we can do this better,” she said.