Councillors Have Had Enough Of Multi-Unit Developments

January 29, 2017
By

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

Monday night the Revere City Council has sent a message to MassHousing and to developers that the city does not need more affordable housing.

This comes on the heels of a developer proposing 78 affordable housing units at 29 Thayer Ave. in the Riverside section of Revere that is located in the Point of Pines. The unnamed developer from Winthrop even went as far as displaying a picture of the project on the site and a sign across that said, “Powers Towers” referring to Ward 5 Councillor John Powers.

“He (the developer) did threaten us with a 40B if the development was not approved,” Powers said.

A neighborhood meeting was held a couple of weeks ago and the neighbors were adamantly opposed to the apartments. Not only would it fit is would also make a flooding problem in the area even worse. One neighbor said her cellar floods every time there is an unusually high tide. The Riverside section was settled after World War II when veteran’s housing was built there.

The resolution, which passed with a vote of 10-1, with Councillor Anthony Zambuto voting against, calls for the city to stop developing affordable housing under Chapter 40B of the Comprehensive Permit Act. It allows developers of affordable housing to override certain aspects of municipal zoning bylaws and other requirement. Chapter 40B is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. Affordable housing is defined as a unit which could be purchased or rented by a household making up 80 percent of the median income in the area.

“We have enough public housing, a substantial amount,” Powers said. “This could be a deterrent to developers. Think of the drain on city services and in the school department.”

The mayor supports the resolution as does the director of economic development.

The resolution requests that MassHousing not approve site eligibility of the project.

The resolution reads as follows:

“The City of Revere should have Safe Harbor status form the requirement of Chapter 40B since more than 1.5 percent of developable land is devoted to eligible affordable housing, as detailed and documented in an application for Safe Harbor status that has already been prepared for filing and is now available for review that shows 2.3 percent of our developable land area is devoted to eligible affordable housing.

  • The problematic environmental conditions of the site, including regular and increasing flooding form the adjacent Pines River, have not yet been addressed and resolved in a manner that would permit sustainable residential development on this site.
  • A development of the height and density of this proposed multi-family project is clearly incompatible with the character and quality of the surrounding residential neighborhood and would increase the household count in Revere by more than 60% above the 126 single-family homes that now comprise this small distinctive neighborhood.
  • The adverse traffic impacts of such a development would have serious accessibility and safety consequences for both Riverside residents and the patrons of the adjacent Gibson Park, young and old.
  • This proposal would seriously and unnecessarily compromise or conflict the zoning and permitting policies and procedures of the City of Revere and with the powers and prerogatives of the City Council itself, none of which have been obstacles to the continuing creation of new affordable housing through out the community, all with has been done without recourse to the Chapter 40B strategies.”
  • notmd

    Take a look at Burlington, Ma. The developer petitioned the town to rezone the use of property in an area controlled by current bylaws. The planning board suggested that the developer change their petition from a special permit to a comprehensive permit under 40B. Why? The town is currently at 10.3 per cent and is going up to 10.5 for the years 2017 and 2018. The planning felt that if they could add more units as affordable they will never need to worry about the 10 per cent threshold. How come? The developer will build 270 apartments and make 68 of them affordable then the town can count all 270 ( 25 per cent affordable) as affordable in the State calculation.
    But Wait…the developer has requested that a major bylaw of the town be ignored by the board of Appeals. They also suggest there are no safety issues despite the chairperson of the planning board stating she would never walk on the streets in front of this proposed residence.
    When the safety of a town is jeopardized to meet someone’s fear( unfriendly 40B), those decision makers abuse the true meaning of affordable housing.

  • KWS

    “We have enough public housing, a substantial amount,” Powers said. “This could be a deterrent to developers. Think of the drain on city services and in the school department.” Absolutely Right! Keep up the fight.

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