Friday, August 30, 2002
40B changes protect town from 'frivolous' applications
With a possible comprehensive permit application in Carlisle, the Carlisle Planning Board listened with interest as board member Phyllis Zinicola reviewed the significance of recent regulatory changes to the comprehensive permit law, commonly known as Chapter 40B, or more affectionately as the anti-snob zoning law. The changes require funding agencies to become more involved in affordable housing projects before developers can file applications with town boards.
The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development has required the Federal Home Loan Bank, a consortium of local banks that issue loans to developers of affordable housing through the New England Fund, to oversee the site review of a proposed 40B project. In the past the New England Fund has been allowed to issue a "Site Approval Letter" with minimal oversight from the bank. According to reports in the Boston Globe, the bank has resisted the changes and has suspended making any loans from the fund.
"A second change [in 40B regulations] is actually a good thing for towns," said Zinicola at the August 19 meeting. A financing agency must issue a loan commitment letter before a developer can qualify for a 40B comphehensive permit. This comitment from a third-party financing source "assures us that the project is shaped in a realistic way." In the past, developers have threatened to apply for a comprehensive permit without any serious intent or defined plan.
Zinicola also suggested that the board of appeals should have a "stiffer application fee as a deterrent to frivolous applications."
A comprehensive permit , involving some affordable housing, on a lot on Lowell Street has been discussed, but not formally filed.
High Woods Lane
Land owner Rod Walton requested the board to issue a certification of completion for the High Woods Lane roadway. Walton needs the certificate in order to get an occupancy permit to live in his newly constructed house. The board placed a condition on the High Woods Lane Common Driveway Special Permit requiring a plan of completion prior to the building inspector issuing a certificate of occupancy. The plan will assure the board that the roadway was built correctly to engineering standards.
Chairman Kate Reid explained that the board needed proof that the work was done. "We don't have any other enforcement mechanism other than this." Walton stated he believed the work has been completed and that the plan is being worked on. This is "a communication and coordination problem" summed up board member Michael Abend. "We deliberately put a hook that sharp and that deep to make it as painful for the developer as it is for us to make this happen." The board took no action.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito