A new nine person committee will aim to help guide future housing growth in Fitchburg.
The Housing Advisory Committee was approved with a unanimous vote from seven alders, with Ald. Julia Arata-Fratta (Dist. 2) absent from the meeting.
The committee is the result of a study that looked at the city’s housing needs last fall, and included a recommendation for such a group. The Housing Advisory Committee is supposed to help direct city funds toward gaps in the housing market identified by the Fitchburg Housing Plan.
Those gaps include a lack of single-family housing, especially at an affordable price, and balancing that with multi-family development projects, which are also needed to keep up with demand, city economic development director Mike Zimmerman told the Star last October.
The committee will be a nine person body, with one alder, one representative from the Community and Economic Development Authority and seven members at-large appointed by the mayor and approved by the Council, with three of those members being Fitchburg residents.
At-large members shall have a background in housing, including development, finance or management, according to the ordinance governing the committee.
By state statute, the city’s Community and Economic Development Authority would still serve as the official housing authority for the city, but the housing advisory committee would recommend policies and study housing needs.
The committee was approved with one change from its initial proposal. Ald. Dan Bahr (D-2) proposed reducing the number of seats occupied by a CEDA representative to one, and giving an additional seat back to an at-large member to “avoid a CEDA-driven process,” he said.
“This more reflects how our other committees stack up,” he said. “I’d like to ensure that the Council is driving the train, and that we have people that are sort of dictated, not so much by CEDA, but rather, by the Council, by the mayor, by elected officials, so they can reflect the views of our citizens.”