October 7 2015

Selectmen Voice Approval of Hearing 'Friendly 40B' Affordable Housing Proposals

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Board of Selectmen discussed entertaining Friendly 40B proposals from developers to help the town maintain its “safe” affordable housing numbers during the meeting on Monday. 


Though no vote was taken the members of the board stated they are interested in at least gathering plans from developers for affordable housing projects. 


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 10.4 percent affordable housing though there is a fear the number will drop when the amount is re-evaluated during the 2020 Census. 


Town Administrator John Petrin said that because the town is over 10 percent, it can be picky about proposed projects. 


We are in area called safe harbor,” he said. “So we can deny any projects that come up that we feel are not good for the community. And there’s no appeal process.”


Member of the board said they thought the town should take a look at proposals. 


“I think it’s clear this is something we need to support and pursue,” Selectman Bob Hogan said. “I think we need to support whatever we can do, because we are close [to falling below 10 percent]. It would take a couple of years to build the number up so when we get to the census we’re safe.” 


“We’ve had a couple subcommittee meetings and everyone is agreement,” Selectman Daniel Grattan said. “Now we just need to find out where developers stand.”


Petrin said after the meeting that the town has not heard from any developers with potential plans yet, though the Davis Company did speak to the Planning Board this summer about the possibility of entering into a Friendly 40B project at its property at Burlington Center on Corporate Drive.  

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