New Putney housing project gaining momentum

PUTNEY, Vt. – Plans for a new housing development project in Putney, originally proposed two years ago by the Windham Windsor Housing Trust and Green Commons of Vermont, was recently altered as to not include the land currently being utilized by the Putney Community Gardens and Putney Farmer’s Market.

The nonprofit corporation, Green Commons of Vermont, was originally formed with a mission of acquiring and preserving green spaces for the Putney area, including the land where the community garden and farmers market now reside.

With the sale due to close in February, the two entities are planning to purchase roughly four acres of land in order to build affordable housing on the southern portion of the lot, while not affecting the space currently occupied by the community gardens and farmer’s market. The site plan was recently adjusted, but does not affect the gardens.

“Our intention from the beginning was to develop a site plan that would leave the gardens intact, so, we haven’t planned anything that directly impacts the gardens,” said Elizabeth Bridgewater. Bridgewater is the executive director of the Green Commons of Vermont housing trust.

“We did recently make some adjustments, but that was in response to a soils condition report that prompted a different storm water management approach – and a subsequent design change – not because the original plan impacted the gardens.”

Green Commons would become the owner of both the community gardens and farmers market location, which is currently owned by Putney Gateway Associates. The general partners of Putney Gateway Associates are Jeff Shumlin and Marcia Leader, both of Putney.

The Putney Planning Commission has stated that this project falls in line with the town’s plan to create housing in Putney’s center through “in-fill” development, as opposed to developing housing in the town’s more rural sections.

The current plan includes two buildings, one with eight apartments, which include some townhouses, and the other featuring 17 apartments and an elevator. There are 25 apartments in all with a mix of sizes – 14 one-bedroom apartments and 11 two-bedroom apartments.

“The mix will meet a need to provide homes for smaller household sizes, which is the demographic trend in our region,” Bridgewater said. “The rents for the new apartments will also be established to meet the needs of a variety of income levels.”

The buildings will also be designed for energy efficiency and will meet a number of the town’s planning goals, which call for maintaining and promoting the town’s existing settlement pattern of a “central village core” surrounded by large tracts of woodland, farmland, and scattered rural settlements.

“We have been excited from the beginning by the proximity of healthy food and community gardens, essentially right outside the door of the new residents,” Bridgewater concluded. “Our site design also includes a community gathering space with a full kitchen, which may be used for a variety of events, both for residents and others on the adjacent site.”

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