The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 19, 2010

Benfield housing earns town 40B moratorium

With the Comprehensive Permit for Benfield now in place, Carlisle has earned the right to disapprove any new 40B development proposed in the town over the next two years. A Certification of Municipal Compliance has been issued by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), offering a two-year Carlisle moratorium from the 40B law. Without the certification, developers would be allowed to circumvent town zoning for projects that are 20% affordable as long as the town has not met its affordable housing goals.

In a letter dated October 12, Sandra L. Hawes, Associate Director for DHCD, notes the receipt of the Comprehensive Permit for the Benfield Farms senior housing project, indicating progress on the production goals outlined in the Carlisle Affordable Housing Plan. The letter states that the combination of the Comprehensive Permit and the town’s recently updated Housing Plan contributed to making the town eligible for certification. Although construction has not yet begun, the Benfield Comprehensive Permit, issued by the Zoning Board of Appeals, clears the way for the town-supported development on South Street to move ahead. The letter from DHCD says any change to the plan for Benfield can result in certification removal.

When complete, Benfield will contain 26 affordable rental units, all of which will contribute toward achieving the 10% affordable housing goal specified in the 40B law. According to a chart included with the DHCD letter, Benfield will more than double Carlisle’s affordable housing inventory, from 1.2% to 2.79%. Other developments that contribute to the goal include Carlisle Village Court with 18 affordable units and Rocky Point (a.k.a. Laurel Hollow) with two units of affordable housing.

The chart indicates that a development with the Department of Mental Retardation (DMR) is pending. Housing Coordinator Elizabeth Barnett says that a DMR development is part of the newest Carlisle Affordable Housing Production Plan now waiting for approval by the state. The last plan was approved by DHCD in 2005.

According to a press release from Barnett, “This is the first time Carlisle has been certified to be in municipal compliance since the compliance program’s inception.” The ability to earn a moratorium from Chapter 40B was part of new DHCD regulations issued in February, 2008. The Carlisle certification is in place until July 15, 2012, and the town must continue to add affordable units to maintain certification beyond that date. Once the 10% affordability goal is achieved, Carlisle is permanently freed from 40B for as long as the level is maintained. ∆

© 2010 The Carlisle Mosquito