February 25, 2011 at 1:34 am #164627
I was at a regional regulatory preliminary hearing tonight.
A developer wants to put a 17,000 SF building on a 50k SF lot in the nearest thing to an industrial zone in the town in which I live. Because the building is over 10K SF it is subject to review as a project of regional impact. He actually is moving it from elsewhere to recycle it in order to sell the land below market rate to a fire station so that it can expand. That is the background, but not the point of interest.
The project will result in a storage warehouse employing 7 people. It had been a government office employing over a hundred people. The point of most interest to me, amongst a litany of substantive and miniscule issues, was that the regional review staff concluded that because the project was going to create 7 new jobs that did not exist before it had an impact on affordable housing and that the project owner may need to be held responsible to mitigate that impact. Does anyone believe that this makes sense considering that there are tons of unemployed people in the area, that these would be low paying jobs unlikely to inspire people to move into the area for work?
I’m interested in seeing if there is a consensus of whether this is over reaching or reasonable regulation.February 25, 2011 at 4:54 am #164644Matt FridellParticipant
So far you have consensus. What kind of mitigation was discussed? What would they ask the developer to provide?February 25, 2011 at 10:25 am #164643mark fosterParticipant
Sounds like crazy talk from people who don’t get out much. How are they expecting the developer to mitigate it–build subsidized housing for 7 people?
Maybe he/she should put a local job posting up and bring in the long list of the people already living there who would love one of the 7 jobs. Better yet, bring all of them to the next meeting.February 25, 2011 at 12:56 pm #164642
This was a preliminary hearing where they discussed whethet it was going to go through a limited review process or a complete review, so the meeting was to determine what would be the issues addressed if it was determined that a limited review was appropriate. In other words, it was recommended by staff that mitigation for housing should be on the table, rather than what that mitigation should be.
The subcommittee in the preliminary hearing had one member suggest that it went against common sense. Staff, who only can make recommendations rather than decisions, argued that it should be considered because they were jobs that did not exist before. That member motioned that it was not appropriate, the panel discussed it, and the motion carried ….. 4 to 3. It will not be considered.
Staff was upset because they felt that the language in the rules made the project fall in the category where it MUST be reviewed. …. and, yes, they wrote the rules which were passed by the commission.
PS. Russ, you would not be considered far left if you lived here.February 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm #164641mark fosterParticipant
I don’t know if this applies, but I live outside of a small town near a larger city, and I have seen outright hostility to anything which would attract low paying jobs or housing. Everyone wants all the services and yard work, but they don’t want more of the people doing them to live there, and the local rules are written to keep it that way.February 25, 2011 at 10:17 pm #164640Jordan LockmanParticipant
Wow!February 26, 2011 at 12:46 am #164639
Massachusetts has a state law that requires each town to strive for 10% affordable housing. Affordable housing is defined by rent or mortgage payments that is based on a percentage of the mean income of that particular town. If that is not met, there is a program called 40B where any developer can get zoning relief if he makes 25% of the development affordable (must stay that way for an eternity), they must be equal to the other houses, and they have to sell one affordable before they can sell the corresponding three market rate units. I don’t know any community that has reached the 10%. Most people get upset when a “40B” is proposed near them simply because it does not fit the zoning of the area and seems a lot more to do with letting a developer build more rather than achieving the 10%.
All of the local, regional, and state government agencies are very much motivated to provide (or have someone else provide) affordable housing. There are many non-profits and busy activists as well in this area. You don’t hear too much “not in my community” , but plenty of “not in my back yard”. Everyone is all for it in concept, but when reality gets too close, look out.February 26, 2011 at 12:47 am #164638
A person close to the situation told me today that the number being floated was $20k, but I don’t know if that was speculation or fact.February 26, 2011 at 3:36 am #164637
Housing was a big problem here a few years ago as vacation homes were selling like hot cakes and being flipped left and right. Few people rented out homes to year ’round workers because they could rent out by the week in the summer and save a couple of weeks for their own use and get the same money. There was a big shortage of labor, so many businesses brought in J1 visa students from eastern Europe and Ireland or H2B (?) temporary work visa laborers from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
Now we have lots of empty houses from foreclosures, a drop in weekly rentals, and many empty apartments and houses. We also have many empty business space due to business failure. We have also had a drop off in the immigrant population – many went back to Brazil according to newspaper articles. There are shortages of jobs instead of workers.
I should re-iterate that they did wave this affordable housing impact review and will not discuss mitigation (by a 4-3 vote).February 26, 2011 at 8:56 pm #164636Thomas J. JohnsonParticipant
Let me get this straight. A businessman wants to build a storage facility that will create 7 new jobs. Your town is requiring that he pay $20,000 to address an “affordable housing” issue that will result from the creation of those 7 jobs.
I would have to ask, where is that $20,000 going? How is the town going to use it address the affordable housing issue, that may or may not even exist. My guess is that either your town is in the red and is drumming up phony charges to help cover its budget management issues or some politician wants to buy a new car for their teenager. Sounds like a load of B.S. to me. I’d build my warehouse elsewhere.
That 40B program is insane! Why would I want to buy a house at full price and live next to someone who got the same house, basically for free, because they are poor? They should call it the, “Make a guy who’s gone to college, worked hard and saved enough to buy a house, feel like an idiot program.” They’ve tried similar things in Chicago. Free housing on first floor, medium income on second floor and high-end on third floor. It failed miserably. The fact of the matter is that their lifestyles are incompatible and nobody wants it rubbed in their face that the guy living downstairs is living there for free, while you have to wake up and go to work in the morning.
The government is doing everything they can these days to removes peoples incentive to work, start businesses and save for the future. If you can’t afford housing they’ll give it to you, if you can’t afford food, internet or insurance they’ll give it to you. The problem is, the government doesn’t have anything to give, without taking it from someone else first. That someone is the working person. It’s a system doomed to catastrophic failure.February 26, 2011 at 9:31 pm #164635Craig A RainesParticipant
I do not see in this instance how 7 job additions are going to impact the affordable housing market place in a manner that they can recommend a mitigation measure that will have a relative impact. Why don’t they just have developer fee assesement that went into a fund that goes towards developing affordable housing and or programs. This way the developer can know upfront how much he needs to put in and decide if his project can handle it,.February 26, 2011 at 9:56 pm #164634Thomas J. JohnsonParticipant
The government should not build affordable housing. They should create conditions in which market demands can be met by private enterprise, if the need exists. When government builds public housing is determines the fate of an area for a long time. Just look at the South and West sides of Chicago. Areas that should have high value are caught in a bureaucratic quagmire that will last for the duration of the housing projects. Free-market enterprise will meet the need as it arises and it will change as the needs of the community change… private enterprise creates “jobs”. Government projects just create more “positions” that rely on tax revenue.February 27, 2011 at 12:21 am #164633
It was not the town. It is “a regional land use planning and regulatory agency that eas created in 1990 to serve the citizens of the 15 towns of Barnstable County”. This town has come close to getting out of it’s jurisdiction on at least one occaision. Elsewhere is not an option unless they move it more than 30 miles and four towns away because it would otherwise still fall in their jurisdiction.
Again, clearer heads did prevail and they will not seek mitigation and the $20k number was given to me from a second hand source so that I can not verify the validity of that amount.
40B is more beneficial to builders than anyone else, in my opinion, because they can cram a lot more houses into a development and land is scarcer here than many other places (my town was established in 1663 and is 17 square miles – pretty well built out). I would suggest that those who do math and support it are builders (and those involved in the administration or “non-prophit” groups with paychecks involved) and those who support it because they think it will get to a 10% affordable housing rate are emotional and not doing the math. When I do the math using an assumption of 10,000 housing units with 9% currently affordable (900 units), it would take the construction of 648 40B units with no other building going on in order to make 10%. That is a 6.5% growth in housing units to close a 1% deficit of affordardable units. That does not sound like a solution to me.
On the other hand, other big winners with all this regulation are those of us in land planning offices who have to produce the plans, reports, advocacy, and revisions due to the hoops these developers have to go through. I’m stating a fact rather than saying that it is good. There is a lot more work out there dealing with this type of stuff on a day to day basis than there is designing roof gardens or pocket parks if anyone is having trouble finding a niche.February 27, 2011 at 12:49 am #164632
Actually, there is a 3% surcharge on all property taxes within the town that is earmarked for affordable housing amongst other things (historic preservation, open space, and recreational projects) which would be in addition to this mitigation, had it gone through.
PS. @ Craig -my favorite story from my early years in school was an on campus plant quiz where a lovely young co-ed was asked to identify a small tree. She said “Euonymus ….. Euonymus …… europenis” and a certain someone standing next to her turned quickly and straightfacedly exclaimed “no I’m not!”…remember that?February 27, 2011 at 2:16 am #164631Craig A RainesParticipant
ps. @ Andrew I most certainly do remember that….though I forgot who the lovely young coed was……Was that Professor Synder’s Class?
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