Recently, the Union Leader asked for comments regarding the Governor’s attack on Bedford residents and town officials regarding his plan to let the state take over housing decisions. We responded with this article from which our quotes were taken.
Chairman of the Town Council Bill Duschatko responded with the following, from which his quotes were taken. (in bold)
Please note that “workforce housing” simply means units that have been priced below market rate. The BRA’s concern is not the cost of any particular unit but the possible over-proliferation of high-density construction, the sudden burden it could place on public services, and the potentially inappropriate placement of this type of construction considering Bedford is built up with mostly single-family homes. BRA notes that none of the current projects proposed include smaller, less expensive homes, but only apartment units.
Governor Sununu appears to be have been given incorrect information about the attitudes of Bedford residents and their representatives regarding housing opportunities. It is my opinion, rather “than not getting it” Bedford has always appreciated the necessity of providing housing to provide for all incomes that are consistent with the ability of the community to provide the level of services that meet the needs of its residents.
Historically, Bedford was one of the first communities to adopt an ordinance regarding the inclusion of workforce housing after the State Mandate in 2008. Development of any type of housing was obviously depressed from 2008 to 2016 with value declines greater than 75% at the worst part of the housing crisis. It is only in the past two years that price levels have exceeded their 2008 levels, creating a situation of inadequate housing stock.
In terms of Bedford, the last development that was approved without the necessity of providing work force priced housing was in 2014 and these units have only begun construction in 2019. Since that period, Bedford has approved and produced 102 units of below market rate workforce housing, which represent approximately 12.5% of total multi-family units, most of which were constructed prior to 2008.
Bedford has a 41 unit building that is totally designated as a workforce- low-income housing and it is located in the center area of the town abutting a high end cluster community in the central area of the Town. There are 93 approved units at Bow Lane, which have 24 below market rate units. This project was approved in June of this year and has been controversial, not because of residents concerns about the work force component, but because of concerns about traffic safety and general site density issues.
In the last 5 years, every new multifamily apartment location approved or constructed in Bedford has had the required a minimum of 25% workforce housing.
Planning Board members and the Planning Department have been insistent that workforce housing be included with every new location, and two recent conceptual plans presented will have to be redesigned to include workforce units.
Not mentioned, is the loss of a high end residential development designed for luxury Senior living. Because the work force housing requirement was going to be enforced, the submission has been withdrawn. If this had gone through there was a good likelihood that a number of residents would have been drawn from their current Bedford residences making them available to a very limited housing inventory.
Developers are constrained by federal regulations to lower rents than peer communities such as Londonderry which limits Bedford’s ability to competitively offer workforce housing.
Opportunities are constrained by public water and sewer infrastructure, and by existing limitations of public safety facilities, equipment and space for staff.
It is a shame that Bedford residents and the hard working employee and volunteer officials have become the target of some ill-informed comments on the part of the Governor. Maybe the 150 in attendance at the effort will concentrate on working with local communities to find solutions instead of using them as targets for attempt at political humor.