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Church property site for housing?

SALISBURY — The Affordable Housing Commission has entered into a 90-day option agreement with St. Mary’s Church of Lakeville to evaluate the possible use of a parcel of church property for workforce housing, the commission announced Thursday, Feb. 16.Workforce housing is defined as affordable housing for moderate-income wage or salaried workers in the municipalities where they work. The property is located between the church’s Wells Hill Road parking lot and Farnam Road and Perry Street.The church will hold the property off the market for 90 days while a survey, wetlands delineation and preliminary soils analysis are conducted. The Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development, a nonprofit group with offices in Boston and Middletown, is paying for the studies, so there is no cost to either the town or the church. During the option period, the commission will have the opportunity to explore various program concepts, design alternatives, zoning and funding sources. Commission Chairman Bob Riva said the arrangement is a good opportunity for the town to explore an affordable housing possibility. He speculated that the survey might result in “narrowing down the footprint,” with a portion of the approximately 10-acre parcel suitable for development.After the studies of the parcel are far enough along to provide information about the feasibility of building on this parcel, the commission will discuss potential types of housing as well as siting, design and access alternatives. These meetings are, as usual, public, and all interested parties are encouraged to attend.The town and church will use the information collected during the option period to evaluate the potential of the land for the construction of workforce housing, but there is no obligation for either side to complete a transaction.

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