Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Amherst Loses Vital Protection

Rolling Green Apartments, 204 units

Rolling Green Apartments owner Equity Residential gave official notice to the Amherst Housing Authority earlier this week that they will indeed pay off their remaining subsidized mortgage and bring 41 formerly affordable units up to market rate.

And while it may sound a bit like the tail wagging the dog, the loss of those 41 units means the entire 204 unit complex falls off the town's Subsidized Housing Inventory, dropping Amherst to 8.5% -- well below the 10% threshold required for fending off a Ch40B development. 

As of September 1st a developer could file a Chapter 40B housing project and build pretty much whatever they want as long as 25% of the units are "affordable."

Town officials had thought they bought a one-year reprieve with the recently completed "Housing Production Plan," but as part of that plan the town has to produce 0.50% of the town’s year-round housing stock, or 48 units of affordable housing annually (not lose 204 units!).

Bad news part 2:  Town planning staff just learned the state is not going to accept the 42 affordable units coming on line at Olympia Oaks because that project was in the works W-A-Y before the Housing Production Plan was completed (March, 2013).

Other than Olympia Oaks, the only affordable housing on the near horizon are six units at President Apartments proposed expansion.  In other words, without Olympia Oaks the town stands zero chance of a one year Ch40B reprieve.

The fall of Rolling Green has been on town officials radar for almost six years.  On September 1st, it happens.  So now when a developer comes a calling, no matter how many NIMBYs protest the proposed Ch40B development, IT WILL HAPPEN.

(Which, considering our exceedingly tight housing market, may not be a bad thing.)


Anonymous said...

In other words, Town Meeting's chickens of obstinate opposition are coming home to roost.

The endless drumbeat of "no, no, no" votes each spring, even by one-third + 1 vote minority, has consequences.

Dr. Ed said...

Other than whatever brownfield issues she may be dealing with (and as late as the '80s, sawmills were spraying some quite toxic stuff onto logs before debarking & sawing them), exactly what is preventing Cindia from building a high-density housing project on her old sawmill property?

Remember that most UM students are "low income" and that HUD recognizes what it calls "Zero-Bedroom Units" so if she was to build a "boarding house" (which she would have to license as such) or any of a variety of things which are essentially identical but avoid having to be so licensed, it would constitute "affordable housing" and be beyond the town's ability to stop.

So what's stopping her? The fact that some folk might not like her because of this? There are only certain folks who would object to this being done -- particularly on a post-industrial barren wasteland like the old sawmill property -- and how much more could they possibly hate her than they already do because of "The Retreat"?

Anonymous said...

Amherst, getting what it so richly deserves!