September 24 2015

Selectmen Discuss Friendly 40B in Special Meeting

By: Rich Hosford

The Board of Selectmen held a long discussion on a possible Local Initiative Project, commonly known as Friendly 40B, this week. 

The purpose of the talk was to gauge whether members of different town boards and committees and members of the public are interested in working with a developer or developers to build affordable housing in Burlington in cooperation with town officials. 

Under Massachusetts law, a town must have at least10 percent affordable housing in order to meet the 40B requirement. 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. The biggest concern raised at the meeting is that the town could lose a lot of the control it has as to where an affordable housing project might be built. 


Currently Burlington has 10.2 percent affordable housing. 


Director of the Regional Housing Services Offices Liz Rust gave a presentation and in it she said that affordable housing numbers are assessed every ten years after the federal census. She said it is likely that the 2020 census will have Burlington fall below 10 percent if nothing changes. 


That was a big factor in the “Friendly 40B” proposal. In that situation the town works with a developer before it goes below the 10 percent threshold in exchange for more control over where the units will be built and how big the project will be. 


The other part of the discussion was the need for affordable housing in town. Council on Aging Director Marge McDonald said many seniors are looking to sell their homes and move into apartments to save money but there is not enough in their price range. Currently there are 147 Burlington seniors on an affordable housing waiting list. 


No particular projects were discussed at the meeting and no votes were taken. There was a consensus however that the topic should remain on of ongoing conversation. 


Find the whole meeting here

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