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Perryville mayor, commissioners consider supporting proposed housing development

A housing development is being proposed for a property on Otsego Street behind Perryville Town Hall that would use Department of Housing Community Development grants.

Glenn Worgan, vice president and principal of Delaware Valley Development Company, brought the proposal for the 66-unit development to the mayor and board of commissioners during a work session Tuesday evening.

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The company, he said, owns and manages more than 1,500 apartments in more than 20 communities around the region, including developments in Rising Sun and North East.

The plan is to redevelop the property at 515 Otsego St., which faces the back of town hall and is across the street from the police department. The property, he added, has been for sale "for some time" and is "in need of redevelopment."

The housing complex would be about 30 townhouses and 36 apartments with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units, but mainly two bedrooms.

Worgan added the company would look at the town's architecture and create something that will "enhance and liven the town's character."

With the incentive of certain tax credits and state funding, the development would have a restriction on the cost of rent and incomes of the occupants.

The majority of the homes, he said, would have occupants with a household income of 50 percent the area median income and a "handful" would have less, as well as more than the area median income.

At 50 percent, the average income of a household in the development would be $32,600.

Worgan commented that in previous visits with town staff he has noticed "the town is not excited about supporting a development with a mix of incomes that is heavily weighted toward really low income," and that's why there's a mix planned.

Worgan was before the board that night, he said, to seek a letter of support from the town to include with an application to the state for funding.

The development would still go through the town's process for building such a housing development.

Commissioner Barbara Brown said if the Otsego property were developed it would stop any chance of the property behind it from not being "totally landlocked," which is nearly is.

Brown asked if the company could "leave a space" to the adjoining property that could some day become a street or provide the development with a second entrance and exit.

Worgan said the company has expressed interest in either buying or sharing the nearby lot, which he believes is owned by a church, in order to have emergency vehicle access.

Commissioner Michael Dawson asked about the possibility of residents owning a unit or if the development would always be comprised of rentals.

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To get the funding the company is after, Worgan said, there is a 15-year rental requirement "off the bat." Although it's not done often, there is a small possibility of submitting an "ownership conversion plan" to the state which would allow for that to happen.

Dawson also questioned the funding for the proposed development.

There are three sources of funding, Worgan said. About 60 to 70 percent of the development would be funded through a housing tax credit, which would be sold to a corporate investor who would provide equity in return. Then, 15 to 20 percent would come from a low-interest loan from the state, as well as a conventional lender, such as a bank.

The town will vote on providing a letter of support to the company at the September town meeting.

Meeting recordings on town website

The mayor and commissioners also discussed the logistics and benefit of putting unofficial minutes, audio or video recordings from town meetings on the website.

The town already records audio at town meetings and work sessions, but it isn't posted on the website.

The mayor and commissioners approve official meeting minutes once a month during the town hall meetings.

Commissioner Michelle Linkey said she called several municipalities in the state to see what their policies are about recording meetings and how effective and useful it is to residents.

She brought up the question of who would videotape the meetings, who would post it on the website, for how long and how much this process would cost not only monetarily, but also memory space of the website.

Mayor Jim Eberhardt suggested the town "take a step at a time" and, perhaps, start with posting the audio recordings since that is already done and would be of little or no cost.

Brown was clear that she is not in favor of putting unofficial minutes on the website as it could risk the town being held accountable if there's a mistake.

Dawson suggested, as far as recording video, the town could have a simple camera set up at the back of the town hall meeting room and positioned to record the whole board at the same time, or the town could contact a TV production class at Cecil College and a student could do the job for class credit.

Linkey said she would follow up with the questions raised about cost and how it would be done before the town considers the decision further.

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