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Affordable Housing - Not addressed by 40B in Massachusett
John Belskis supports Belmont Uplands Suit
Worcester Business Journal, March 19, 2007
full text at wbjournal.com/j/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1419&Itemid=142
Opinion: State's 40B law needs teeth, not promises
I disagree with the contention of Guy Webb ("No silver bullets for the state's housing crisis," Closing Thoughts, March 5) that the recently-uncovered excess profits were "honest" mistakes or oversights. One has but to look at the IG's Acton audit to see that the very same developer who was sued by the Town of Boxboro and awarded $1.2M of excess profit, was then in the subsequent Acton 40B once again in excess.
Our organization, The Coalition for the Reform of 40B, agrees that more oversight and regulation reform is necessary. But Mr. Webb owes a clarification as to what needs reform. The track record to date has been total capitulation to developer concerns with little consideration of local issues. One of the reforms we seek has been the need for inclusionary zoning (IZ) and perpetuity of 40B-developed affordable units, mandatory statewide. Lawmakers have repeatedly voted these measures down.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, IZ says that every development exceeding a certain level of units (generally 6-10) will include a percentage of affordable units and in addition such units will remain as affordable in perpetuity. Currently Massachusetts is in danger of 20,000 affordable units returning to market rate in the near future due to expiring use. We'd like to know why developers oppose something that has proved successful in creating affordable housing.
Despite Mr. Webb's assertion that towns obstruct affordable development, many of our towns are approving the IZ and perpetuity bylaws that the legislature and the developer industry oppose. In my opinion, many of our upscale towns richly deserve 40B projects for their failure to provide affordable units. But to allow 40B abuses to continue under the banner of "anti-snob zoning" is a fallacy that needs correction