LexHAB Presents Housing Plans for Busa Land
After LexHAB delivered on a request for plans for four to eight units of affordable housing with frontage on the Busa Land, the Board of Selectmen are preparing to take the next step toward making a real decision about the now town-owned farmland.
Featuring four duplexes that would occupy less than an acre, the presentation from LexHAB was everything the Board of Selectmen had asked for, but still it wasn’t enough to garner any kind of real answer about the Busa Land.
On Monday, Jan. 30, representatives from the Lexington Housing Assistance Board delivered plans for eight slightly different units of housing along Lowell Street, including utilities available, solutions to possible problems, a mix of units, square footage and a proposed layout, among other criteria.
According to Carter Scott, a high-efficiency housing developer working with LexHAB, the designs include six two-bedroom units, a three-bedroom unit and one accessible unit. With the current plans, the homes would come in under the Stretch Code “for fairly cheap money,” Scott said.
As well, parking plans would be such that each unit would have two spaces and residents would have enough room to turn around rather than back out onto Lowell Street. Taking up three-quarters of an acre, the LexHAB housing plan would leave seven acres for other uses.
Responses to the plans were varied, from Selectman George Burnell saying he’d like to put one unit where the Busa Farms farmstand is presently to one resident opining that the homes would make the land a more pleasant gateway into Lexington.
“I thought it would be more intrusive,” said Dirk Armstrong, a Haskell Street resident. “It kind of fries me a bit when people act like this is some kind of bucolic view. It isn’t. It’s a working field and I think it will actually be more attractive with the houses.”
And to those who don’t support LexHAB’s plan for housing along the “Arlington side” of the Busa Land with frontage on Lowell Street, selectman Chairman Hank Manz said something must be done with the land, so criticisms are best served with alternatives ideas.
“Sooner or later, we’ll have to do something and not leave it hanging,” he said. “They’ve done what we’ve asked them to do. What are we going to do with that?”
Speaking for LexFarm, which supports a community farming option on the Busa Land, Derek Moody said he was hopeful about engaging in opportunities for collaboration among various concerns. The group has engaged an architect to look at some possibilities, he said.
Another resident questioned when there would be the kind of pubic hearings at which neighbors, abutters and the public at large might be able to contribute to the conversation.
In its report, the seven-member Busa Land Use Proposal Committee was unanimous in its support of the "continued use of farming on some or all of the Busa Land," while the majority of members also support some affordable housing. (To read the full report, click here.)
Manz said he believes the selectmen, the ultimate decision makers about the Busa Land, are reaching the point where they will have to reach a decision on the uses, which would then open up the process to collaboration.
To that end, Manz committed to blocking off at least an hour of the selectmen’s next meeting, scheduled for Feb. 13, for the purpose of at least starting to really make a decision about how to use this land.