The Select Board has hired a consultant from New Hampshire to help the town explore the issue of affordable housing.
Ivy Vann, of Peterborough, New Hampshire, will help the Harpswell Affordable Housing Working Groupcomplete a study, according to a memo from Town Planner Mark Eyerman. The memo describes Vann as a “one-person planning firm” with a wide range of experience.
Vann is a former state legislator and a former chair of her town’s Planning Board.
“The Working Group feels that her experience as a small-time developer combined with a knack for reaching out and involving the community in planning processes make her a good fit for this project,” Eyerman said in the memo.
Vann “has worked with small organizations dealing with housing issues,” Eyerman told the Select Board on May 25. “She’s actually just done a renovation of a building she owns to create affordable housing units.”
Vann will assist the Affordable Housing Work Group with community outreach and research on successful initiatives in other communities. She will help the group examine possible sources of funding and the possible use of town land for affordable housing.
A draft work plan for the study mentions three possible locations: George J. Mitchell Field and two properties on Great Island, both off Mountain Road — one on Doughty Point Road and one on Upland Lane.
With the data Vann gathers, the Affordable Housing Working Group plans to make recommendations for actions the town should take to facilitate the creation of affordable housing, which could include ordinance amendments and use of town land.
The town will pay Vann $150 per hour with a cap of $26,750, or almost 180 hours. In March 2022, voters approved the use of $25,000 in federal funds for an analysis of options for affordable housing. The additional $1,750 will come from the Planning Office’s budget.
Three firms responded to the town’s request for qualifications for the work. The Affordable Housing Working Group met with all three via Zoom before recommending Vann. The Select Board approved the contract on May 25.
The town established the working group in June 2022, charging the five-member group with developing recommendations for consideration at the annual town meeting in 2024.