Friday, February 6, 2009
Selectmen hear details of possible “friendly” 40B
At the January 27 Selectmen’s meeting, Yongdeng Chen, a Cambridge resident, presented conceptual plans for a ten-unit 40B development on a 4.2-acre pork chop lot he owns on Maple Street near Red Fox Drive. Chen characterized the project as a “Friendly 40B” consistent with Massachusetts’ Local Initiative Program (LIP).
LIP is a state program that encourages the creation of affordable housing by providing technical assistance to communities and developers who are working together to create affordable rental opportunities for low- and moderate-income households. The program provides a subsidy through extensive technical assistance and other services in the development, operation, and management of housing supported by local government that will serve households below 80% of the area median income.
To be eligible for technical assistance, a developer must agree to set aside at least 25% of units as affordable. Chen indicated that his project will be 40% affordable and will include six market-rate two-bedroom units and four affordable one-bedroom units. With a 40B project a developer can bypass usual zoning bylaws and can apply for a comprehensive permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
A developer must first receive a site eligibility letter from the Board of Selectmen. The critical regulation outlining the requirements for site eligibility determination and application to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) are described in 760 CMR 31.00 (Code of Massachusetts Regulations). If deemed a LIP, the Selectmen work in partnership with the developer to bring the project to the ZBA. [www.mass.gov/Ehed/docs/dhcd/legal/lipguidelines.doc]
Several abutters to the Maple Street property expressed concern about the density, roadway access, and impact on local water supply of the proposed project. Chen said that his preferred access would be via the 40-foot frontage on Maple Street between 811 and 845 Maple Street. This will involve building a bridge across a brook. He said that another access for emergency use could be provided to Red Fox Drive.
When asked about the financial viability of the project by board member Tim Hult, Chen said that a comparable market-rate property at Rocky Point sold recently at a foreclosure sale for $650,000. Chair Doug Stevenson said, “No decision will be made tonight – the town does not have a LIP process defined.” Board member Bill Tice said that Chen could expect a response from the board within four weeks. ∆
© 2009 The