August 13 2015

Developer To Discuss "Friendly 40B" Housing Project with Town Officials

By: Rich Hosford

A Boston-based developer with property in Burlington is going to enter into discussion with town officials about building a “Friendly 40B” apartment complex. 


As we had reported earlier, the Davis Companies was planning to go to Town Meeting this September to seek a vote allowing it to rezone the Planned Development District at Burlington Corporate Centre on to allow the construction of an apartment complex with up to 300 units. 


At the most Planning Board meeting, however, the company changed course and proposed that it begin talks with the board, and the Board of Selectmen, about building a 40B apartment, meaning that at least 25 percent of the units would be Affordable Housing. 


Under Massachusetts law, a town must have at least10 percent affordable housing in order to meet the 40B requirement. Planning Board Chair Barbara L’Heuruex explained that if a town falls below 10 percent, it loses a lot of the power it has if a developer comes in and wants to build an affordable housing project. Basically, the developer would be able to build almost wherever they wanted and as big as they wanted without be subject to local bylaws. 


Currently Burlington has 10.2 percent affordable housing, a pretty close margin. 


A “Friendly 40B” development means the developer, in this case the Davis Companies, would work with the town to plan a housing project that both sides agree upon. Additionally, if, say, the company were to build 200 units and make 25 percent of them affordable housing, the town would get to claim all 200 as affordable against the 40B percent requirement. 


The catch, however, is that with 40B projects, Town Meeting does not get a vote of approval. Members of the Planning Board said that if they are going to discuss this option they want to make sure to get feedback from Town Meeting so as to not cut them out of the loop. Representatives of the Davis Companies agreed to that. 


L’Heareux stressed that no agreements have been made and none will without feedback from Town Meeting and abutters. 


Some neighbors do, in fact, have concerns. During the meeting they spoke against the project due to traffic concerns. They said that the area in question is already very congested and adding more traffic to it would only exacerbate the problem. 


We will follow this story as it develops. 

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