KITTERY, Maine — The Town Council will see two major resolutions on its agenda Monday night regarding housing, including one to explore the possibility of a workforce or affordable project in Admiralty Village.
The latter comes after some town officials expressed concern over a chosen Foreside location where a housing charrette was held in October by the Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast. Though the charrette was not prescriptive, and rather meant to generate a conversation and flow of ideas, a Jan. 14 workshop between the Town Council and Planning Board to review the charrette’s final report had some officials asking, “Why not Admiralty Village?”
The charrette focused on 25 Walker St., a town-owned property where the old fire station sits. According to the final report, a best case, most appropriate scenario for that property, in keeping with Foreside character, would be 10 “cottage-style” workforce housing units.
One of the resolutions on Monday’s agenda asks the council to authorize an exploration by the town manager and inclusionary housing working group into the possibility of a workforce/affordable housing project at 45 Woodlawn Ave., the former recreation building. The resolution states the findings would ultimately be reported back to the council for further discussion.
Councilors Ken Lemont and Charles Denault asked if the charrette team considered the former recreation building in Admiralty Village, a neighborhood already home to much of Kittery’s workforce and shipyard families. Lemont was concerned costs associated with relocating the ambulance service from 25 Walker St. would be a “tough sell” to the town.
And the area around the former recreation building is already getting a much needed facelift, as the Emery Field project moves along, including added parking, athletic fields, a picnic area and walking path.
Councilor Matt Brock, chairman of the housing working group, said he felt “very good” about the charrette process, and the takeaways that could be applied to various areas of town. Brock said they were never “locked in” on Walker Street, but rather wanted to explore what barriers existed for the development of workforce housing in Kittery.
A year or so ago, Brock said, the town likely wouldn’t have considered a project in Admiralty Village, but thanks to the charrette process, officials now have new tools and “lessons learned” to chart a path forward.
“We are in this to try to engage Kittery in creating workforce and affordable housing,” he said, calling it an “advance, complex issue.”
He noted the housing working group is not prepared to present its thoughts on the Admiralty Village property, and is simply seeking the go-ahead to take the next step in giving it a look.
“We want the authority of the council now to say, ‘OK, we think this is something we, as representatives of town government, want to look at in a serious way,’” he said.
Brock has led much of the affordable housing conversation at the municipal level. He previously said Kittery’s socio-economically diverse population is getting priced out, and those who work in the community are unable to “buy in.”
The other resolution asks the council to authorize the development of zoning amendment recommendations to “support the creation of workforce and affordable housing options for Kittery residents and workers that make up to 80 percent of the HUD Metro Fairmarket Area median income, in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan Goal 4.”
Currently at the Planning Board level is the first recommendation from the housing working group to tweak the town’s accessory dwelling unit ordinance, as a possible way to create a more diverse housing stock.
Kittery housing nonprofit Fair Tide recently announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Community Housing of Maine to identify a potential property for the development of 45 units of workforce or market rate housing, with around 15 set aside for households moving out of homelessness.
Both housing resolutions will be addressed at Monday’s meeting at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers.