VHCB Awards $5.8 Million for New Housing in Vergennes and Bennington and Conservation of Forestland in Bridgewater, Sharon, and Strafford

Bramhall creek
Bramhall Reserve, Bridgewater. Daryl Burtnett photo

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Milton Mobile Home Park residents
Milton Mobile Home Park residents

PRESS RELEASE
September 27, 2018

Contact:  Gus Seelig 828-3251; gus@vhcb.org; Jen Hollar 828-5865; cell: 793-7346; jennifer@vhcb.org

VHCB Awards $5.8 Million for New Housing in Vergennes and Bennington and Conservation of Forestland in Bridgewater, Sharon, and Strafford

On Thursday, September 20, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board awarded $5,838,948 in state and federal funds to create and preserve 146 affordable homes and to conserve 577 acres of forestland with provisions for public access and water quality protection.

VHCB Executive Director Gus Seelig said, “We are excited to support investment in nine towns that will result in new affordable housing options, increased recreational opportunities, improved water quality and support for agriculture. The projects funded this month are made possible by the Housing Revenue Bond and other public resources that leverage private investment in order to improve Vermont’s communities, our economy, and our quality of life.”

Vergennes – VHCB will provide $1,680,000 in Housing Revenue Bond funds and $174,256 in federal HOME Program funding for 24 new, energy efficient, family rental apartments to be constructed by the Addison County Community Trust and Housing Vermont. Amenities in the $7.1 million development will include a play area, garden space, and a large open, mowed field for use by the tenants. The site is within walking distance of public transportation, schools, and a shopping center with a grocery store, pharmacy, bank, and hardware store. Qualifying residents will be able to utilize health care coordination services provided at Vergennes Senior Housing, located across the street, and operated by the same developers.  

Shaftsbury –  Shires Housing will develop 22 new rental homes in four buildings adjacent to Lake Paran and within walking distance of the Village of North Bennington, the school, Head Start Program, a playground, skate park, ball fields, and a trail network. Shires will use $1,250,157 in Housing Revenue Bond funds awarded by VHCB for the $7.1 million development. A trail easement on the property will give residents access to a network of trails and conserved lands including the Robert Frost Trail. The site is adjacent to 56 acres along the shores of Lake Paran that VHCB funding helped to conserve in 2004.   

Ryegate – Rural Edge will use $350,000 in VHCB funding to undertake energy efficiency work and rehabilitate seven three-bedroom, single-family homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places  that were built for granite industry workers in the early 1900s. The Lind Homes were acquired by Rural Edge in 1998 and have served as affordable rental housing since that time. The rehabilitation work will include new roofs, painting, insulation, air sealing, and the installation of a biomass heating system to serve the seven homes, dramatically reducing energy costs. The Vermont State Housing Authority will provide Section 8 rental housing assistance for the homes, increasing affordability for residents.

Milton – a 100-lot mobile home park located off Route 7 will use $461,107 in VHCB funding to improve water and sewage systems, undertake site work to address erosion, and pave roads within the park. The Milton Mobile Home Park is owned by the residents and is an important affordable housing resource. The proposed improvements will reduce operating costs, benefiting the residents.  

Bridgewater – Two tributaries of the Ottauquechee River run through the Bridgewater Hollow Bramhall Preserve, a 359-acre parcel to be acquired and conserved by the Northeast Wilderness Trust with $160,000 in VHCB funding, providing permanent public access for swimming, hunting, fishing and hiking. The land is located in the heart of the Chateauguay No Town Conservation Area, a 60,000-acre forest block in the towns of Barnard, Bridgewater, Stockbridge, and Killington. The Vermont River Conservancy will help the Northeast Wilderness Trust improve two roadside parking areas on the tract and create footpaths to two swimming areas. The forested land will be managed as “forever wild,” with non-motorized public access, allowing for a section of future old-growth forest at the core of the larger block of municipal, federal, and state-owned land and privately owned, conserved working forest.

Strafford and Sharon – A $150,000 VHCB grant will assist the Vermont Land Trust and the Alliance for Vermont Communities to purchase and conserve 268 acres of forestland for timber management, wildlife habitat protection, and public recreation uses. The land is part of a nearly 7,000-acre block of unfragmented forestland located five miles north of the Village of Sharon and six miles from Strafford and South Strafford villages. The conservation easement will require buffers along a stream and another small tributary as well as around wetlands in order to protect water quality downstream.    

Charleston – The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department will purchase 183 acres of farmland, wetlands and forest along the Clyde River, adding to a new Wildlife Management Area, improving water quality and increasing flood resilience. Acquisition of the farmland and conversion to public ownership will resolve ongoing water quality concerns due to the farm’s location in the floodplain and converted wetlands. VHCB will award the Department of Fish and Wildlife $240,000 in funding from the Clean Water Initiative of the State’s annual capital appropriation to take the farmland out of production, protecting 9,000 feet of frontage on the Clyde River and restoring 82 acres of high quality wetlands.

Hardwick – A $132,250 award of VHCB funds to the Vermont Land Trust will facilitate a transfer of a 239-acre conserved farm to new ownership and add a resale restriction intended to keep the farm affordable to future farm buyers. Andy and Mateo Kehler, owners of Jasper Hill Farm, will purchase the farm, convert it to a goat dairy and move part of their pork operation there. The goat dairy operation will create additional jobs in the area.

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The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board supports the creation of affordable housing and the conservation of agricultural land, natural areas, forestland, recreational lands and historic public properties. Since 1987, VHCB funds have been used to create more than 12,600 affordable homes, to conserve more than 700 farms and 300,000 acres of natural areas and recreational lands, and to restore 69 historic public buildings for public use.