Burrillville Council continues pursuit of site for senior housing off of Steere Farm Road

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BURRILLVILLE – After visits to two potential locations off of Steere Farm Road, the Burrillville Town Council took the next step forward on a project to build a new senior housing facility this month, voting to look into titles and explore any possible deed restrictions on both properties.

The locations include one site made up of five parcels totaling 30 acres in Harrisville, and a second 56-acre lot adjacent to Steere Farm Elementary School.

“We do not need all of this land but think that it makes sense to evaluate all the parcels as potential,” noted a memorandum to councilors on the project from Town Planner Ray Goff.

It is the latest step forward for a project that began last year in hopes to establish more units for residents age 62 and up, with plans that envision a complex containing 60, two and one bedroom, income-restricted units. With the help of outside funding sources, town officials have estimated that the $20,000,000 project could be constructed at no cost to taxpayers.

“We believe that with working with a affordable housing developer and the many housing sources available, a facility can be built in town,” noted Goff.

Members of a Senior Housing Exploratory Committee began their work last June, first meeting with state legislators, the governor’s office, Rhode Island Housing, the Burrillville Housing Authority, and the director of NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley to establish if the was a need for a facility.

“We have learned that there is a strong need for senior housing in the state and that there is ample funding to assist with the development of such a facility,” Goff noted.

A feasibility study completed by real estate advisors Bonz and Company, Inc. and brought to the council last month further established demand.

Councilor Stephen Rawson, who began the initiative and is now leading the committee, has said the new units in Burrillville could be subsidized like Aston Court, but unlike that senior housing complex, would be privately run, like Stillwater Heights.

Officials have estimated the project will require around 5-7 acres and are targeting parcels already owned by the town. The vacant site abutting the elementary school, situated just by the town line with Glocester, was reportedly acquired through a land swap with the developers of Steere Farm Estates sometime around 2017.

The second location includes lots in a more residential area of Steere Farm Road, around a mile and a half down the road in Harrisville. A half-acre parcel with frontage on the road connects to four vast, vacant lots purchased by the town roughly 20 years ago.

“We could use a certain percentage of that property,” Rawson said at the council meeting on Wednesday, August 17.

“We would like to have title work done to ensure that these properties are viable for the purpose of
development of senior housing,” noted Goff’s memorandum.

Councilors unanimously voted to move forward with title investigations.

The Senior Housing Exploratory Committee’s next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 15 from 5-7 p.m.

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