The balance between affordable housing and land preservation is the talk of the town in Middlebury as state officials tout an 11-acre development that will soon become home to 150 middle-income housing units.
“Everyone knows we’re in a housing crisis, and one of the needs we identified the last few years is middle-income startup development,” says Josh Hanford, the Commissioner of the Department of Housing and Community.
Middlebury Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay believes the whole community will reap the benefits.
“Everyday we have people looking for affordable housing in the town of Middlebury,” she says. “Middle income people can’t find housing. We can’t attract people to come to the town to work. This is a much needed project.”
Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill devoting $15 million for the program, the largest-ever investment in middle-income housing in Vermont. Much of the funding will come from the federal American Rescue Plan Act..
But not all are onboard, including Steven Ralph, who lives across from development site.
“It [doesn’t] sit right,” Ralph said. “Putting in a two, three story buildings is out of character for the neighborhood.”
Among Ralph’s concerns are increased traffic. Some residents in the area have to walk across the street to get their mail, and they are afraid the new development will make that morte dangerous. Noise pollution is also a concern.
“It’s the people that come and go at all times of the nights,” he said. “The headlights [outside with] my master bedroom [being] right out front.”
Middlebury has estimated population of 9,000. Neighbors like steven embrace Middlebury’s small town feel. He’s worried the project will put the town’s identity in jeopardy.