A decision is nearing on a large affordable housing development in Shelburne. At stake is a proposal to build at least a hundred units in an old trailer park behind the Shelburne Inn. The residents of the Shelburnewood park have a particular interest in it because they might lose their homes if the project is denied.
Eleanor Richardson has lived here for years, and worries a lot about her future and that of more than two dozen other families who must leave -- not if the housing project is built here -- instead, if it is not built. That's because she could live in the new development if it's approved. She told Channel 3, "There are no places anywhere in the area or anywhere near this area where we could put mobile homes."
The park is located in the heart of Shelburne Village, right behind the Shelburne Inn. The development would include single family and multi-family affordable housing, along with housing for the elderly.
The owner has tried to sell the park for several years now and is expected to close it if the housing project is denied. Town manager Paul Bohne says most of the reason for the delay was the old zoning bylaws; they would not permit the kind of density that's being proposed. But now, new bylaws adopted just this year would permit it. Bohne said, "And when this project was first proposed to the town, the old bylaws adopted and amended in January 2007 would not allow this project to get off the ground. So they had to wait until it went through the bylaws update. That's a key point here."
Leigh Sheppard owns a barbershop nearby and supports the housing project. She expresses a sense of frustration, since one developer already dropped out and a second developer might. She suspects that the permitting process works against low-income residents. She said, "All these meetings and all this talk about density and architecture and font and color, and blah, blah, blah. One thing after another. And now the second developers that are coming through are ready to leave. They've sunk, I think, close to half a million dollars into it and they're ready to hit the road too."
If the developers pull out of this project, the owner can put the property up for sale. That would start a nine-month legal deadline, after which the residents here will have to leave. They say, with nowhere to go.
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