WATERFORD — A Norwich developer met significant opposition on Monday night for a proposal to build 47 manufactured houses on a 16-acre property using a state statute that lets affordable housing developers override local zoning laws.
Attendees of the forum raised numerous objections to the project, including the density of development, traffic safety, potential damage to the wetlands, and property values, during a presentation of the proposal by Mark Branse of Halloran Sage on behalf of Kingstown Properties at the Waterford Public Library.
Branse said that under the state’s 8-30g affordable housing law, the project would price 30 percent of the houses using a percentage of Waterford’s Area Median Income, which is $88,600. Of the 14 affordable units, seven would be priced for households earning 60 percent of AMI, or $55,286, and seven units would be priced for those earning 80 percent of AMI, or $73,715.
The houses could be offered for sale or as rentals, but that decision will depend on market conditions and the supply chain for building materials, said Scott Gladstone, a partner in Kingstown Properties, who attended the presentation
“We really can’t quantify the cost of building today and quite frankly, we won’t be able to quantify where the market is from a sale perspective or rent perspective so we’re just kind of leaving that open to figure out what’s the best plan to tackle this,” he said.
He said the 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom houses will be built on slabs and will measure 24 feet by 48 feet, totaling 1,152 square feet. The 47 houses will be located on a newly constructed private road with entrances at 109R Clark Lane and 131 Clark Lane. The road will extend behind existing houses along Clark Lane.
Residents objected to the loss of privacy once the new houses are built and questioned the distance from the development to their existing homes.
Christine Haase, who owns a house that abuts the proposed project, said she bought the property even though traffic was heavy along Clark Lane because the backyard was bordered by woods.
“We bought our property knowing that even though we were on a busy road, we had such a nice yard in the back. I probably would not have wanted to move my family to this busy road if I knew I would have roads in front and back.”
Residents expressed concerns about a significant increase in traffic, which, they said, was already heavy during school hours because of Clark Lane Middle School.
“What you’re telling me is, I worked hard all my life to buy my property. And now we’re going to have 47 units in our backyard, and I’m not going to be able to get out of my driveway. My grandchild walking to school is going to be endangered because of the overload of traffic,” said Robert Roselund, a resident of Clark Lane.
Branse said a traffic study had been completed but the final document had not been released.
Residents also questioned the quality of prefabricated construction and whether the manufactured houses were a good long-term investment. A number of attendees questioned the density of the project and said there were too many houses packed into the lots.
The potential loss of privacy was a repeated concern of the attendees, but Branse said that one of the benefits of the project was that the buildings were all one-story and single family instead of tall apartment buildings.
“Under 8-30g, we could build anything. We could build an apartment complex. We could build townhouses, we could build something higher. So, they’re not going to be looking down into your yard because they’re only one story,” said Branse.
A number of residents expressed concern that the project would cause the value of their homes to fall.
“I worked my butt off since I was 19 running my own business to buy that house. Now, what once was three quarter acre rezoning, now you’re going to have four houses in one acre,” said Roselund.
When residents asked why the houses would be prefab and not stick built, Gladstone said his company hadn’t determined how the houses will be built because the factories could not commit to pricing.
“Again, I couldn’t even quantify the price in the last 12 months because it’s probably going up 30 percent. Today for a manufactured home, for modular out of the factories, they’re out a year, and they can’t give me pricing — kind of like the raw materials today with the lumber yards, it seems to be ebbs and flows and pricing.”
Gladstone, who is listed as a partner in Freehold Real Estate Management Company in Norwich, said his company has also owned Brookside Mobile Home Park at 270 Boston Post Road in Waterford for 10 years.
Arlene Sherman, a resident of Clark Lane, objected to the layout of the project and the overall design.
“It is horrible design, just horrible. There is no pride in the development,” she said. “Who wants to live like that? There’s nobody that wants to live like that.”
Sherman said the laws providing for affordable housing were not working for the average citizen.
“It’s an issue because it doesn’t work for the people paying taxes,” she said.
The application for the project has not yet been submitted to the town.