TOWNSEND -- Selectmen made two appointments to the Townsend Housing Authority last Tuesday.
The two new members are Kathy Arujo, who was at the meeting, and Kevin Smith. There is still one vacancy.
According to Housing Authority member Laura Shifrin, the board has not met in two years, but could be reviewing ways in which they could reclassify housing as affordable and explore grant opportunities for the town.
Shifrin said it might be worthwhile to look at qualifying some houses as affordable to get Townsend the required 10 percent to avoid Chapter 40B exceptions.
Under Chapter 40B, municipalities where less than 10 percent of its housing qualifies as affordable allow developers to override certain zoning laws and building requirements.
Shifrin said there are buildings she knows that are affordable that were not constructed under the affordable guidelines. An expansion to Atwood Acres and Habitat for Humanity homes have also been added to the town, she said.
Arujo had served on the board before, and said that when the initial plan was drafted, the commonwealth provided no mechanism to requalify units that did not meet affordable-housing standards.
Selectmen Robert Plamondon said that it "seems unfair to be penalized by something when logically we have enough affordable housing."
Reaching out to state representatives and state senators, said Selectman Sue Lisio, would be a good way to look at reforming those policies.
Shifrin said that when the board is back to full capacity, she would like to begin to keep Townsend in the loop with the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission, which allows some towns to submit for grants and incentives they qualify for.
Depending on what the commission is offering and its requirements, there is a lot of opportunity for things like roads and housing, she said, adding that she would like to talk to the Planning Board about how the Housing Authority "can get a little bit more for the town."
No state representative has been appointed, but Shifrin said she will do so in the near future.
Luke Steere writes for Nashoba Publishing. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/LSNashobaPub.