Fight Over Affordable Housing on the Vineyard

A small businessman on Martha's Vineyard is attempting to build affordable housing for his workers on the island, but neighbors aren't pleased. 'I don't want to feel like I'm in the city,' says one.
October 1, 2008, 11am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Fights over affordable housing on the Vineyard are different from disputes in other places, where such projects can improve blighted neighborhoods. On the island, where land costs start at $500,000 an acre, opponents often object because such projects can bring down property values.

Bennett's plan for Cozy Hearth, a nonprofit development, were initially approved in 2005 by the Martha's Vineyard Commission, a planning agency that extracted unusual concessions. It required Bennett to install composting toilets to reduce sewer run-off to nearby Oyster Pond. It also increased the number of houses set aside as affordable from three to eight, far exceeding state law, which requires one-quarter of houses in a project be affordable.

Bennett agreed to give three houses to Edgartown to award to residents as affordable. Another three would be for construction of market-rate houses: One for Bennett, who plans to give his property away; one for his father-in-law; and one for a Canadian doctor whose family lives on the island, he said."

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Published on Tuesday, September 30, 2008 in Boston Globe
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