Congregational update on the Harvest Crossing project

A faithful team has been meeting weekly to continue making progress on the Harvest Crossing affordable housing project (formerly known as the Jacob’s property project).  The merry-go-round has been spinning rapidly on this work and it has been a bit challenging to know when to jump off and give our congregation an update.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • The project remains financially sound thanks to the generous support from this congregation as well as other friends and neighbors.
  • We began the process with an agreement to purchase the property from Phil Jacobs.  Our planned use(s) included affordable housing, open spaces for recreation and possibly some agricultural space for orchards or gardens.
  • Our understanding from the outset has been that the entire 8.6 acre parcel would be buildable space.
  • We had test pits dug by an engineer and identified areas where it appeared septic systems for the housing could be located.
  • We had a property appraisal done that indicated our agreed upon purchase price was reasonable.
  • In conjunction with the Town of Underhill, we applied for a $60,000 planning grant from the VT Community Development Program.  This grant was not funded although we were encouraged to resubmit the application in the next round (this November). 
  • As part of the grant application we had an environmental assessment performed.  This is a necessary step not only for the grant but also for any future subdivision of the property we might want to do.
  • As part of our work with the Town of Underhill in applying for the grant, a map from the Agency of Natural Resources was found that had much of the land parcel marked as a “wetlands restoration area”.
  • We invited our area’s wetland expert from the Agency of Natural Resources to come look at the property and tell us if it meets the State’s definition of a wetland.  The ANR person told us there is vegetation and soil that does meet the definition of wetlands.
  • To fully determine what parts of the property are actual wetland and where it may be possible to locate houses and septic systems, we now need to hire a qualified consultant to perform a wetland “delineation”.  We are arranging for this to be done and a follow up with a surveyor to carefully map where the edges of any wetlands are. The cost of this work will be covered by a grant through Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity.  It appears the most likely wetland is the area directly behind the Church.  Up towards the Fire Station appears to be the more likely site for building.
  • We have contacted Senator Bernie Sanders office and begun a dialogue to see if there may be additional federal funding that could be directed to this project.

Work is ongoing and some of the uncertainties around the wetland delineation makes our timeline going forward a bit difficult to predict.  Throughout the project we have been fortunate to have cooperation from and partnerships with; Phil Jacobs, the Town of Underhill, O’Leary-Burke engineers, and the VT Community Development Program.

We have been particularly blessed with support from David Mullin and Catherine Stevens of Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity and their faithful assistance to our Church team of Dave Clift, Marge Douglass, Sandy Wilmot, Julie and Bob Carr, Mark Stephenson, Al Simard, Sandy Gillim, Julieanne Nickerson, Pastor Jen and Dan Manz.  We plan to have an informal opportunity on August 15th after worship to answer questions and give more of an update in person.

Our thanks to everyone in the congregation who is supporting this effort to bring well built, energy efficient, affordable housing to God’s backyard. Thanks to Wes Carr, Bob and Julie Carr’s son, for his gift of this Harvest Crossing logo.  You can see more of his work at his website