Housing project under construction in Morristown stirs controversy

MORRISTOWN, Vt. (WCAX) – A housing project in Morristown that will add more than 100 units to the town is stirring controversy.

City officials and the developer say they’re working to make sure the project is successful while easing residents’ fears.

Construction is now underway at the site of what Morristown zoning officials are calling the largest housing project they’ve ever approved.

“There’s a lot of change, and it’s constant and unrelenting. And something like this gets a lot of the criticism and draws attention,” said Graham Mink, the project developer.

Mink was issued a permit to build a 136-unit development on Aug. 1 and plans to have some of the buildings move-in ready as soon as next year.

“We’re starting now. We’re hoping to be finishing and having tenants moving in before next winter,” Mink said.

The project is one that has been controversial since its inception, only getting approval from the Development Review Board with a 4-3 vote.

“If you’d asked me four years ago if I’ve been approving buildings, five-story buildings, underground parking and a Starbucks and all the other stuff that comes with this, what’s in town right now, I would have said, ‘You’re nuts.’ Morrisville but we’ve been growing faster,” said Todd Thomas of the Morristown Development Review Board.

Residents who live near the construction site say they believe the project would negatively impact traffic, aesthetics and the environment.

Morristown Selectboard Chair Bob Beeman says he’s also received complaints.

“I do understand what they’re saying. And I’ve seen the same thing. You know, I go by it every day. And it’s certainly this. Certainly, it seems like it’s a housing boom. That’s happened really rapidly,” Beeman said.

But Beeman also says he believes that added housing is something the town can really benefit from, especially because of the town’s proximity to resorts.

“A lot of folks don’t have all the data are saying, ‘Look, we don’t need all these apartment buildings. They look terrible. We don’t want them here.’ But there’s waiting lists for the units they’re building. And as soon as they’re built, there’s people moving in, so there’s definitely a need for it,” Beeman said.

Town officials are urging residents to attend the public meetings to stay up to date on what’s happening and get the opportunity to have their voices heard.

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