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Select Board Reorganizes, Hears Presentation from Tewksbury Home Build

Reorganization was the first order of business at last night’s Select Board meeting. Todd Johnson was elected chair, with James Mackey named vice-chair and newly elected member Mark Kratman appointed clerk; all were voted in unanimously.

The board also revisited a benefit road race planned by the Bourque Family Foundation in partnership with Breakaway Ice Center, which is located on Carter St. The group will hold a 7.7K race and a 5K walk on June 25 from 2 to 4 p.m., followed by a reception featuring a beer garden and entertainment. The foundation hopes to raise about $40,000.

At the last meeting, Johnson raised safety concerns over the timing and route, which takes participants along East St. and Shawsheen St. during mid-afternoon traffic. The board approved the liquor license but tabled approval of the race itself, asking the applicant to consider another route.

While the route remains the same, Johnson pointed out that there are additional safety measures planned, including more police officers, signage and other communication and having the streets made one-way for the duration of the race. Kratman asked that the town notify businesses in the area that may have truck traffic. With that covered, Mackey motioned to approve the race, with a second by Jayne Wellman.

5 Affordable Homes Closer to Reality

The board heard an update from Bruce Panilaitis, president of Tewksbury Home Build.

Panilaitis laid out an ambitious plan to construct four affordable, single-family homes and move a fifth structure onto lots on Cart Path Rd., Rebecca Lane and Florence Ave. that were approved for this use at Town Meeting. Construction is due to begin in May, pending formal transfer of the properties to the nonprofit. He expects to have all homes complete and sold to eligible buyers by summer 2024, with two being available in spring 2023.

Schedules are constrained because the bulk of the work on the homes is done by Shawsheen Tech students during the school year. The Tewksbury Home group is also involved in the Soldier On project, which will consist of 21 affordable studio and one-bedroom permanent veterans housing units at 1660 Main St. That project is currently in the design phase.

Panilaitis noted that there are some questions on the lot lines for the Cart Path site that should be resolved with a survey.

“We’ve had some good conversations with the neighbors, and we’re going to continue to work with them,” he said. The costs to the town to bring these units online will be to forgive back taxes of less than $200,000 and some build support, to be determined, from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Panilaitis says the cost to the town should be around $40,000 per home. The group rolls over profits from sales of previous homes to fund new projects.

Because the homes are affordable, the permitting process will be through the Zoning Board of Appeals as opposed to the Planning Board.

Panilaitis is set to return with some clarification on costs, and Johnson said the board will be mindful of timing to accommodate the Shawsheen students.

After moving the scheduled April 26 meeting to April 25, the board adjourned.

Lorna is a 25-year resident of Tewksbury who has written for organizations ranging from the DIA to InformationWeek to a free weekly in New London that sent her to interview the pastry chef at Foxwoods.

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