UPDATE: Tuesday afternoon
Town Officials want it made clear that Amherst currently is not below the 10% threshold for a CH40B development. The state did a survey about a month ago and the results should be known late summer early fall, where the official number we have to live with will be announced.
It was agreed, however, that Rolling Green alone could be a deciding factor depending on whether the state allows us to keep all 204 units on the SHI or just credits us the 41.
Original post (from the floor of Town Meeting no less)
Even though one of the better selling points of the town entering into a private deal -- with a $1.25 million entry fee -- to preserve 41 affordable units of housing at Rolling Green Apartments evaporated like morning mist on a hot summer day, Town Meeting still voted near unanimously to do the deal.
Let me explain:
For the past generation Rolling Green has accounted for 204 units on our Subsidized Housing Index, a state formula that requires cities and towns to maintain a minimum of 10% of its housing stock as "affordable," or be subject to a developer using Ch40B as a trump card for a mega-development (as long as 25% of the units are "affordable.")
Even though only 41 of the Rolling Green units were actually affordable, because of a clause in the federal loan agreement used by a developer to finance the facility, all 204 units were counted. Equity Residential, the current owner, paid off that loan in September, so now that provision is gone.
With all 204 units counted Amherst stood at 10.8% on the SHI index. With only 41 of the units counting Amherst will register 9% and with all the units lost, 8.5%. In other words Amherst is now below the minimum SHI index required to stave off a Ch40B development from happening.
But Town Manager John Musante pulled a stunt that would have made P.T. Barnum proud, by announcing that an "offer had been accepted" by the current owner, Equity Residential, from affordable housing developer Beacon Communities. An offer that required $1.25 million of Amherst tax money that was not yet appropriated.
Town Meeting then took the bait and voted overwhelmingly to do the deal.
Thus the good news for affordable housing proponents is those 41 Rolling Green units are preserved (although town officials are not sure how many of them are the larger 3 or 4 bedroom units).
The even better news is now that we're (unofficially) below the 10% SHI another affordable housing developer will soon come calling, holding a "build-whatever-you-want" card courtesy of Ch40B.
Jim Oldham: $1.25 million is a "little bit of money."