Williamstown set to review proposed PhoTech site plans


WILLIAMSTOWN — Proposed plans for the former PhoTech site will be reviewed during the town's monthly meeting of the Affordable Housing Committee, which starts at 5 p.m. today in Town Hall.

Early designs for the property at 330 Cole Ave. involve the renovation and reuse of the cube-shaped former mill building, and the construction of 2-3 unit townhouses for a total of 46 units for families and individuals of low-to-moderate income.

The developer, Berkshire Housing Development Corp., will be on hand to explain the plans for the roughly $14.5 million project. Town officials hope to see residents of the Cole Avenue neighborhood at the meeting to provide "initial feedback" on the designs and any other issues with the site.

"It was evident when discussing the proposals that this project is really important to the neighborhood," said Van Ellet, chairman of the Williamstown Affordable Housing Committee. "We all want this to be a good addition to the community and it's important that the neighborhood is a part of the discussion and see it as a nice addition to the area."

The PhoTech site was settled on as a location for new affordable housing after two other attempts. The first proposal, for a location on Stratton Road, was declined after neighborhood opposition. The second proposal, recommended unanimously by the Affordable Housing Committee for housing on the PhoTech site and at the former site of the town garage on Water Street, was declined by the Williamstown Board of Selectmen in favor of the Berkshire Housing Development Corp. proposal for the PhoTech site alone.

The need for affordable housing had become a focus for town officials after Tropical Storm Irene flooded the Spruces mobile home park in 2011, making it uninhabitable over the long term. There are only a few residents still living there, and they are expected to be relocated in the coming weeks.

The PhoTech site project is expected to be a multi-year project, with construction likely to begin in 2017 or 2018 at the earliest. At least some of the funding for the project is being sought from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Commercial Development.


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