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BOS Supports Littleton Road Affordable Housing

Chelmsford Housing Authority Executive Director David Hedison presented a $31 million dollar project before the board on Monday night.

The Chelmsford Board of Selectmen voted unanimously on Monday night to support a $31 million project presented by Chelmsford Housing Authority Executive Director David Hedison.

“This is not free housing; this is low and moderate,” clarified Hedison. “I can’t think of another site that would not cause controversy,” he added.

The proposed location for the project is at 261 Littleton Rd. and would need to be approved at Town Meeting before becoming a reality.

“This is one of the top sites that was in the Chelmsford Affordable Housing Plan which was approved by the Board of Selectmen in the planning board in 2011,” said Hedison. “It’s a site where we will realize some significant improvements,” he continued.

Hedison warned against mixing affordable housing with market value housing. “I didn’t want to see a development where we throw in 20 percent affordable and all the rest is market rate; we’re really not impacting the residents that need this type of housing,” he said.

Board member George Dixon Jr., a former member of the Affordable Housing Committee commented, “This is exactly why we put the affordable housing plan together to keep out predatory 40B developers.”

John Edward, a representative from the Housing Advisory Board commented, “We never imagined that it would be this affordable.” He continued, “To have all of the units be designated as affordable, plus being truly affordable, and not Chapter 40B affordable is remarkable.”

Hedison informed the board that 15 percent of the development may have Section 8 vouchers.

The project would be done in two separate phases under two separate funding plans.

“We’re going to be able to bring in over $20 million of other funding from the state, which is awesome,” Hedison said.

The town would take approximately 18-24 months to acquire the property.

Hedison did not envision the first phase of construction to be completed until the Fall of 2016 with the second phase ending in the summer of 2017.

The project would feature amenities such as elevators, a townhouse, green space, and a pool.

The Board of Selectmen will provide positive feedback to the state of Massachusetts in an effort to have the project approved.

Board member Pat Wojtas summed up the discussion succinctly, “It’s the right location; the right number of units, I don’t see any reason to object to it.”

Rob Carey March 12, 2013 at 05:08 PM
What property is this going to take over down there? Will it replace the "motel" that is in behind the old Hi-Way mart? That area could use some upgrading, it will also be far enough away from the usual people in town that will try and block it, that they might leave it alone to get done. A few years ago I heard that 7-11 or Cumby's was interested in buying the HiWay mart store, is that still a possibility? Could use a decent store down there with maybe a gas station.
John Doe March 12, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Boy a lot of the town officials quoted in this article seem not to like Chapter40B, I wonder why they didn't openly support the repeal effort? For that matter, they weren't even willing to impliment bylaws and/or restrictions to make 40B projects tough to build in Chelmsford. The rehab of an old structure into affordable housing is a great plan and a great use of abandoned/town-owned buildings. I just wonder why these officials who seem to hate 40B so much didn't stand up 3 years ago when their voice would have counted. Ashame, really...
Joe Greene March 12, 2013 at 11:14 PM
How is the $11 million delta funded? Is the town taking on new debt? Does this go town meeting for approval? Where can you find documents and plans about the project? Can you answer some of these questions Andrew/Danielle/Jay? Thanks.
Jay Oza March 13, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Mr. G, yes this goes to town meeting for approval. I will look into obtaining the documents on the project from Mr. Hedison.
Jon Kurland March 13, 2013 at 02:57 PM
John - To my knowledge all the Selectmen at the time opposed the 40B law. When Matt and I ran we were both very vocal in our opposition to 40B's. The one Selectman candidate who was not as opposed to 40B's lost to Matt and me. We were also vocal during that recall effort. As you well know, it was not the way that Chelmsford voted that defeated the repeal 40B effort. It was the voters in large cities like Boston, Worcester, Lowell, etc. as well as the very rural areas of the state that are not impacted by 40B's that killed the repeal initiative. Only suburban communities that have sewerage and reasonably priced land are impacted by 40B. Carlisle for example has a very high land cost and doesn't have town sewerage which makes 40B's financially unsupportable. Even if 100% of Chelmsford voted to repeal 40B, it would not have made any difference in the state-wide outcome.
Jon Kurland March 13, 2013 at 04:04 PM
In case anyone is confused by John Doe's comments and believes that Chelmsford can adopt local by-laws, rules or restrictions to make 40B development more difficult, all such local rules would be subject to waiver since state law takes precedent. I have read elsewhere that Chelmsford could have adopted such rules to restrict 40B development but that is clearly wrong. If towns could do that, then there would not have been any need for a state-wide 40B repeal effort because each town could defeat the state law by enacting their own local rules.The reality is that unless Legislators vote to change 40B, based upon the failure to repeal the law at the ballot, we have to live with 40B. Having a friendly 40B such as this project will not only create 115 affordable units for seniors, veterans, disabled and others who need affordable housing, but it will also stop hostile 40B developers from building such projects in residential neighborhoods for at least a year. Once we reach our legally mandated requirement of 10% then we can stop all future 40B's.
Joe Greene March 13, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Jon - can you address any of my questions? Thanks.
Jon Kurland March 13, 2013 at 07:13 PM
Mr. G - It is my understanding that there will be about $20,000,000 of grants plus $2.1 million from Community Preservation under the Affordable Housing Provision. The balance is coming from the developer. There will be no borrowing from the town.
John Doe March 13, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Jon, I'm not sure if you are lying on purpose, or simply ignorant on 40B. Towns are allowed to set guidelines and procedures for developers to follow in regards to submitting and applying for 40B permits. Carlisle passed a set of legally-tested by laws to curb 40B projects and has not had so much as an application since the court victory. If you and others would stop talking for just a moment and actually listen to what outside voices have to say, you really might learn something. But many BOS members would rather spend time telling others how wrong they are.
Sharon Alessandroni March 14, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Why has Chelmsford become the 40B haven over the last few years? Someone has to be making money. Please enlighten me. Akame
Jon Kurland March 14, 2013 at 01:06 AM
Sharon - Chelmsford is not alone in this regard. We are an attractive community for many reasons. First, since we have not attained the legally state-mandated 10%, we cannot stop projects unless we comply with our Affordable Housing Plan that was recently approved by the state. This particular project will stop hostile 40B's for at least one year. Second, land in Chelmsford is reasonably priced and we provide the amenities that developers need to have profitable 40B projects such as town wide sewerage. Talk to anyone at the state or local level as to why many communities are more attractive to developers than others and this is what they will tell you.
Jon Kurland March 14, 2013 at 01:08 AM
John - You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. As I explained Carlisle land is very expensive and they have no town sewerge. That is what makes Carlisle economically unfeasible for 40B developments. Show me the by-law in Carlise that you are referring to. You can't because it does not exist. Unlike you, I stand behind my comments by stating my actual name. I do not hide behind a pseudonom. If what you say is true then why would there need to be a state law to repeal 40B? The reason there was a state wide effort to repeal the law is because 40B's run roughshod over local zoning laws. Again, provide me with evidence of the "legally tested by-laws" Carlisle passed to curb (I assume you mean defeat) 40B's.
Paul Haverty March 14, 2013 at 02:16 AM
John, you are not correct about Carlisle. There are no legally tested by laws that allow them to limit 40B development. They have adopted local 40B rules, which do not even have the force of by laws, as they were not subject to approval by Town Meeting. Those local rules are even more easily waived than local zoning by laws or wetlands by laws, which do require Town Meeting approval. As Jon noted, the high land costs and lack of sewer availability are discouraging 40B development in Carlisle, but that won't last forever.

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