40B window is open – SHOPC volunteer(s) needed to help with proactive affordability plan

The Town is again vulnerable to unwelcome development projects under 40B laws according to SHOPC’s Vice Chair.

At last night’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Jesse Stein informed the public that the Town’s affordable housing level is currently at 8.5%. 40B laws require 10% in order to be granted “safe haven” status.

Stein advocated for a “proactive approach” to affordable housing. He explained that SHOPC could come up with plans to meet the 10% threshold “without having to let the developers come to us.” He referred to Town’s resources of “considerable” Affordable Housing Trust Funds.

The update was part of Stein’s recruitment effort for SHOPC – the Southborough Housing Opportunity Partnership Committee. As I previously posted, the committee is one member short of a quorum. Without it, the committee is unable to meet.

Stein said there are three open seats for “at large” membership. He appealed to the public to volunteer.

Later, fellow SHOPC member, Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf, reiterated the importance.

if you don’t step forward, these housing projects are gonna be outside the scope of neighborhoods getting involved at the very earliest point and recommendations from citizens in the community to the Planning Board, to the ZBA, to [selectmen], to the Trust Fund Committee, so it’s really imperative.*

Stien is the Planning Board’s representative on SHOPC. He began his appeal with Planning’s need for SHOPC’s help revamping the Over 55+ housing bylaw. (You can read more about that in my prior post on the issue.)

He also spoke of SHOPC’s usefulness to help deliver on the Southborough’s Housing Production Plan. He reminded that the plan details the benefits of having “a diverse housing and economic profile”.

Stein invited anyone with questions to reach out. He said he could be contacted through the Town Planner, who could also answer questions. (You can contact Town Planner Karina Quinn at 508-485-0710 ext. 3028 or kquinn@southboroughma.com).

Stein summed up by saying that for anyone “interested in dabbling in Town Government, this is a great way to start.”

If you’re interested, you can learn more about SHOPC here. And you can find the volunteer form here and information on how to apply for appointment here.

*I believe Phaneuf was referring to the high bar the state appears to require for rejecting 40B developments once they apply – if there is no safe haven. It was under 40B laws that the Zoning Board of Appeal said it was required to accept the condo development project at Park Central. (And the Townhouse project Use Variance was granted as a purported compromise after the developer announced plans to come back to the same site with more 40B condos.)

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Craig Nicholson
5 years ago

I concur with Jessie in that SHOPC is a great way to get introduced to Town Government. I myself started on that board. A diverse housing stock regarding both income and age is critical for a thriving community, which is what our Housing Plan strives for. Please sign up.

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