If he's not successful in his next bid to build a luxury, private golf course in the southern woodlands of Oak Bluffs, Connecticut developer Corey Kupersmith will give the financially-strapped town just what it doesn't want - over 300 extra housing units.
In plans submitted last week to the town clerk in Oak Bluffs, Mr. Kupersmith proposes turning his 273 acres into a mixture of houses, condominiums and rental units, 366 in all. One-fourth of them would be classified as affordable housing, priced at under $135,000 for a single family house. Dubbed The Homes at Southern Woodlands, the housing complex would be developed under a state law that encourages affordable housing, allowing developers to pursue government loans and to bypass local zoning regulations. The law is called Chapter 40B.
Oak Bluffs selectman Roger Wey said yesterday he is convinced the proposal requires review by the Martha's Vineyard Commission. Mr. Wey said the housing project would "devastate" Oak Bluffs. "It seems that he's trying to threaten the town, saying 'Unless you give me the golf course, I'm going to destroy your town with all these houses,'" said Mr. Wey. "Affordable housing is needed, but obviously, that many houses would overwhelm the town."
The Oak Bluffs School is nearing capacity just a few years after being built, and selectmen already have discouraged a church group which wanted to build dozens of affordable housing units on town-owned land near the Martha's Vineyard arena.
But Mr. Kupersmith, who just days ago filed revised plans with the Martha's Vineyard Commission for his Down Island Golf Club almost a year after the commission voted against his first plan, took a different stance in a letter to the editor last week. He argued his housing plan "would greatly help in solving the current housing problems" on the Vineyard.
The subdivision will be built to "maximum density," Mr. Kupersmith wrote. If approved and constructed, it would include 226 single family houses, 112 studio apartments and 28 condominium units. The apartments and condos would be housed in 14 separate buildings.
The project manager for The Homes at Southern Woodlands is Brian Lafferty, a developer of subdivisions near Boston. While most of his experience is with smaller subdivisions between five and 10 units, he was the project coordinator for a much larger 223-unit project at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina.
According to a summary of the project, the affordable units will mix with housing that sells at market rate. Units will be affordable to residents earning 80 per cent of Dukes County median income. Studio apartments with about 300 square feet of space would go for about $700 a month. Condo units would sell for under $125,000, according to the plan submitted.
The plan considers the impact of such a development, including the fiscal pressures on the school system, the potential for further development on abutting real estate and the environmental risks from an additional 25 acres of impervious surfaces - roads, driveways and houses.
"The Homes at Southern Woodlands would result in the alteration of approximately 100 acres of existing woodland, primarily dry oak forest," the plan stated. The housing development will try to remain clear of archaeological resources on the western edge of the property.
Mr. Kupersmith's plan proposes allowing some access to trails that will remain intact even after the construction of so many housing units and roadways. In fact, the report states that the project "will expand public access and open space where none presently exists."
Meanwhile, Mr. Kupersmith's proposed golf course plan remains to be tested again before the Martha's Vineyard Commission in public hearings this summer.