- Written by Susanna Sheehan
- Published: 25 June 2014
In response to neighborhood concern about the 24- unit McLean’s Way Chapter 40B affordable housing development off Bow Street, a Planning Board member has offered a new idea that would allow a regular six-lot subdivision to be built there without triggering the cluster requirement in the zoning bylaw.
Planning Board member Scott Casagrande said he had been approached by members of the public wondering how the density of the development could be reduced. Because the land off Bow Street is currently divided into two lots but owned by one owner, Casagrande offered the idea that a standard five-house subdivision could be built on the nine-acre parcel while a sixth house could be built on the abutting 1+ acre parcel. All the land is owned by Bayside Properties, which is owned by Dr. Emil Reinhalter, who is developing the properties.
By not combining the two lots, there is no requirement to follow section 540, the residential conservation cluster bylaw, said Casagrande.
Before Reinhalter moved forward with plans for a Chapter 40B affordable housing development on the site, he approached the Planning Board with a regular subdivision plan. Following the requirements of the zoning bylaw, the Planning Board could not approve a regular subdivision plan but instead could only support a six-lot development on the site under the residential conservation cluster, which is required if a development has six or more lots or ten or more acres. An RCC development allows for more flexibility in the design of residential developments by allowing smaller than the standard one-acre house lots while preserving surrounding open space. It also requires 10 percent of units be affordable under the inclusionary housing section of the zoning bylaw.
Reinhalter rejected the RCC development plan, and instead chose to pursue a Chapter 40B development.
Known as the anti-snob zoning law, Chapter 40B is a state law that allows builders to bypass local zoning laws and town committee reviews when developing land, provided that 25 percent of the housing units are kept affordable. Chapter 40B is used in towns that have less than 10 percent affordable housing.
“In my opinion, this could be an option for the property,” said Casagrande. “Technically, he would be only adding four houses to the property as there are two there now.
The subdivision’s road would have to run through both lots, and a boarded up house on one of the lots would be torn down and rebuilt, he said.
The Planning Board was generally amendable to Casagrande’s idea.
Planning Board Chairman George Wadsworth said: “I think this is a doable way for this.”
“There are a lot of plusses to this approach,” said board member John Bear. “The disturbance (to the land) would be markedly less. The minuses are that you don’t get affordable housing out of it.”
“As a board, we’ve already indicated we are okay with six ”house lots,” said vice- chairman Brian Glennon. Town Planner Tom Broadrick said he had informed Reinhalter that the Planning Board would be talking about this idea and that Reinhalter was interested in the board’s discussion. Broadrick said that Reinhalter could have a subdivision plan in front of the planning board and a Chapter 40B development in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals at the same time.
“There is the ability to do that,” said Broadrick.