Chapter 40B Housing concerns
Town gears up for 300-unit apartment complex proposed off of Route 1 near Prankers Pond
By Mark E. Vogler
Saugus town officials are cautiously monitoring a developer’s plans for 300 rental apartments on a 28-acre tract of land at 170 Broadway (Route 1 North). Saugus Residential LLC seeks a Comprehensive Permit under the state law known as Chapter 40B, which allows the developer to forgo certain local zoning bylaws and restrictions, providing at least 25 percent of its units of a housing project are designated as “affordable.” Someone earning up to 80 percent of the area’s median income would be eligible to live in an apartment designated as “affordable.”
In communities where less than 10 percent of the housing qualifies as “affordable” under Chapter 40B, developers could avoid local zoning bylaws and restrictions. Saugus’s low- or moderate-income housing units constitute about 6.9 percent of the town’s total housing stock.
“We don’t want to say anything that will harm us,” Selectman Scott Brazis told his colleagues when correspondence related to the proposed development was discussed at Wednesday night’s meeting.
“A lot of residents are scared that this is just going to get railroaded through … I don’t think the public has to panic about this being railroaded though,” Selectman Mark Mitchell added.
Town Manager Scott Crabtree reassured the board that he is following the project closely. “One of the concerns – that it backs up to Prankers Pond … I’ve had discussions with the Planning Department since this came out,” Crabtree said.
The town first learned of the project about a year ago, according to Crabtree. Nothing developed until recently, when the town learned from MassHousing about the application filed for the proposed 40B project named Saugus Ridge.
Site visit rescheduled
Representatives of MassHousing were scheduled to conduct a site visit that was open to local boards on Wednesday morning. But that visit was cancelled because of the snowstorm. A new site visit has been scheduled for next Thursday (March 22) at 10 a.m.
Meanwhile, the town doesn’t have to provide much comment to the proposed development. That information is due by March 30 – 30 days since the town received a Feb. 28 letter from MassHousing advising of the application.
Crabtree told selectmen the Zoning Board of Appeals “is a big player” in the town’s upcoming review of the project. “They’ll still have to go through many months of meetings and design,” the town manager said of the project.
“Toll Brothers is putting this project together,” the town manager said. He noted that the town is prepared “to fulfill our needs, but protect our natural resources.”
“I have a significant amount of concerns, but I’m comfortable,” Selectman Jeffrey Cicolini said.
Crabtree reassured the board that he has resources and expertise available “to help guide us through the process.”