Island Creek North receives town funds

Written by Josh Cutler
 | Thursday, 27 March 2014 15:01

Selectmen have unanimously supported a plan to give the developers of the proposed Island Creek North housing complex $50,000 to support their application to the state for affordable housing financing.

The money will come from the inclusionary housing account under the direction of the Duxbury Affordable Housing Trust.

According to Diane Bart-lett, chairman of the Trust, the money will support the developer’s application to the state Department of Housing and Community Development. It will help the project to get the financing it needs to move forward immediately, she said.

Island Creek North has been on the drawing boards for many years. It is a 214-unit expansion of the existing 106 unit housing complex on Tremont Street near the Kingston line. All units will be considered affordable and, when completed, will prevent Duxbury from being subject to other Chapter 40B developments for two years because it pushes the town over the 10 percent threshold set by the state for affordable housing in communities, according to Bartlett.

The Island Creek North project is itself a Chapter 40B project. Chapter 40B, also called the “anti-snob” zoning act allows developers to bypass local zoning regulations if a portion of the units are sold at below-market rates. Instead of taking the project before the town’s various boards and committees for their approvals, a developer applies only to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which has the authority to issue a comprehensive permit.

Selectmen Chairman Shawn Dahlen, who serves as the board’s representative on the Affordable Housing Trust, said the money makes it easier for the developer to get financing because it shows the town wants the development. Dahlen said the $50,000 is equal to the town investing $233 in each affordable housing unit.

“The check won’t get written until the ground gets broken,” he said.

Developers can choose to pay into the town’s inclusionary housing fund when building multiple homes instead of building affordable housing. The inclusionary housing rules are part of the zoning bylaw. According to Dahlen, there is nearly $130,000 in the this account.

In related business, selectmen also supported the town’s application to the Local Initiative Program for the site that formerly held the Grange on Franklin Street. LIP is a state program that encourages the creation of affordable housing through a collaboration between towns and developers. According to Bartlett, the Affordable Housing Trust will work to gain all the permits necessary to build a single family, three-bedroom house. Then, the project will go out to bid for a builder. As a LIP, the house will count as part of the town’s affordable housing listing.