Bristol board wants housing development

BRISTOL — At their Nov. 7 meeting, Bristol selectboard members pushed ahead with one of their top five priorities: to jumpstart development of housing for younger townspeople seeking a starter home and for older residents seeking to downsize into a smaller home.
The selectboard wants to help a nonprofit housing organization like the Addison County Community Trust (ACCT) build a housing development in Bristol. As a result, the board asked ACCT Executive Director Terry McKnight to attend their Monday meeting and explain how the town could best work with an organization like his to achieve that goal.
The board’s first step is to begin exploring possible locations for such a development.
“We’re talking mostly about independent living arrangements for elders,” Town Administrator Bill Bryant explained. “There are seven or eight  (privately owned) properties that we’re at least thinking about.”
In addition to these locations, the board may also look at town-owned land between Lover’s Lane and Stoney Hill Road as a possible site for a housing development. Bryant said the town is interested in supporting a nonprofit’s grant application to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board for money to conduct a housing market analysis.
Bryant said that in the near future he, a member of the nonprofit Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, McKnight and several selectboard members would sit down for a conversation.
“We’ll discuss privately with them what some of these properties might be and let (the nonprofit housing organizations) initiate conversation with those property owners to see if there’s any interest, and then we’d collect the information that they would need,” said Bryant.
So far, nothing surrounding the potential housing development has been decided.
In other activity at the Nov. 7 meeting, selectmen:
•  Voted to return a $2,600 check to Rochester for assistance that Bristol donated to the disaster-ridden town. Members of the Bristol road crew lent a hand after Tropical Storm Irene.
•  Learned from Bryant that the town will save taxpayers money this year by switching health insurance providers to Blue Cross Blue Shield. The plan, called “Blue Care,” will cost the town an estimated 5.7 percent less than its previous plan (based on the rate filed by Blue Cross but not yet approved by regulators).
The change was organized via the Vermont League of Cities and Towns Health Trust. In the past, the Health Trust worked with a single carrier. “This year, they decided they would discontinue doing that and simply offer plans available on the market, acting as a broker to help municipalities sort those plans out,” said Bryant.
The plan stipulates a $2,000 individual deductible and a $4,000 family deductible.
“We’re actually lowering the town’s cost and employee exposure a little bit, so it’s a win-win,” added Bryant.
•  Agreed to let the Vermont Bond Bank sell two of its bonds: a 1994 sewer bond and a 1995 bond for an upgrade to the water system. The move will save Bristol an estimated $20,000 to $60,000 over the next two decades, said Bryant. The town won’t know the exact savings until the bonds have been sold.
•  Endorsed an Addison County Transit Resources application for Vermont Agency of Transportation funding to run a bus route from Bristol to Burlington along Route 116. The enhanced bus service won’t affect taxes.
•  Met with Tim Bouton, emergency response planner for the Addison County Regional Planning Commission, to help finalize the town’s hazard mitigation plan. Since 2007, the town has been working with the commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to iron out a plan.
“It’s required by FEMA to be eligible for Hazard Mitigation Grant applications, but it’s also a good exercise in and of itself to plan for things like Irene and prioritize and find funding for projects that might prevent damage to infrastructure from (a natural disaster),” said Bryant. “We’re getting pretty close to having the thing finalized.”
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected].

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