Bill to help promote development near downtowns

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(Host) State officials say a housing development in Milton that mixes affordable and moderately priced homes could be a model for the rest of the state.

And one of the developers of the subdivision says a new housing initiative signed into law this week might help other communities duplicate it.

VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports.

(Sneyd) Cameron’s Run is in a section of Milton south of the village that the town has designated for residential growth.

There are already 17 homes in the development and another 32 will be built – a combination of single-family homes, duplexes and condominiums.

Don Turner is a Republican state representative from Milton who developed the project along with his father. He also worked on the housing bill that the governor signed into law at Cameron’s Run.

(Turner) "This is a good model. My development’s not going to benefit from this bill. But it’s something that shows people we can do this type of development and keep everything in close to the community using smart growth principles and make it affordable for people as well as profitable for developers.”

(Sneyd) The homes at Cameron’s Run will have three bedrooms, a bath-and-a-half and about 1,500 square feet of living space.

They’ll sell for between $225,000 and $300,000 dollars. But 16 have been sold to Champlain Housing Trust and they’ll be sold to the public for $169,000 dollars, which is less than Chittenden County’s median house price.

And Champlain Housing Trust will keep those homes perpetually affordable by retaining the right to buy them back when the owners decide to sell.

Turner says that’s what a place like Milton needs.

(Turner) "My father’s been a builder for 40-plus years and he’s always done starter homes and that type of market. And as a realtor in Milton I’ve done a lot of starter homes, first-time homeowners, that kind of business, so we wanted some of the units to be that kind of house. So the collaboration with Champlain Housing allows that to happen.”

(Sneyd) State Senator Vincent Illuzzi is chairman of the committee that worked on the bill.

He says business leaders have told him that the lack of affordable housing has driven prospective employees out of Vermont.

(Illuzzi) "And when you start hearing that all around the state, the message became clear that the state needs to take steps to ease the restrictions on the construction of additional housing.”

(Sneyd) Illuzzi says the new law will make it easier for developers to build houses in state-recognized downtowns and villages.

That’s because builders won’t have to go through some of the review required by the Act 250 development control law. Cities and towns will take care of some of that during their own zoning reviews.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

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