MANCHESTER - With the purchase of the Jennifer Lane properties completed on March 4, the Bennington Area Habitat for Humanity is now looking forward to constructing their first house in Manchester this summer.

Assuming ownership of the 22 parcels of land - which Habitat purchased for $183,500 - was one of the last hurdles the organization had to clear before they could begin the building process.

However, before a house can be built, Richard Malley, the president of the Bennington Area Habitat for Humanity, said there was a significant amount of infrastructure work that remained to be accomplished.

"We would like to start this summer and hopefully some of it can be done simultaneously so we can begin our first house and our projected date would be the end of July, the beginning of August," said Malley. "We'd like to start our first home early enough so we can get it done before we have another one of these winters." Habitat is currently in the middle of the process to select a family for the first Manchester home, but Malley said a family would likely not be chosen until the first week in May. To be chosen, Malley said a family must have either lived or worked in Bennington County for at least a year.

For the last six years the Bennington Area Habitat for Humanity has wanted to build a home in Manchester, but have been unable to do so because it was never cost feasible, Malley said.

The organization first learned about the land on Jennifer Lane as a possibility years ago from Krohn and then town manager, Pete Webster, Malley said. The homes that Habitat for Humanity will build on Jennifer Lane are intended to be affordable housing irrespective of who the homeowner is. They can only be sold to families that qualify for affordable homes and can never be sold at market value, according to an e-mail from Malley.

Planning Director and Zoning Administrator, Lee Krohn, felt that the development of affordable housing by Habitat was an asset to the town.

"The board approved that in the first go round and I think it's an important and invaluable contribution to the landscape," Krohn said.