October 25 2016

'Friendly 40B' Affordable Housing Project at Burlington Center Take Big Step Forward

By: Rich Hosford

A proposed affordable housing project in town took a big step forward at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday night. 


The board voted 5-0-0 to approve the concept of a “Friendly 40B” affordable housing project at the Burlington Corporate Center off of Cambridge Street. The project, if approved, will be a 270-unit rental complex with a combination of 1, 2 and 3-bedroom units. Twenty five percent of the units will be “affordable” under state guidelines but because 25 percent is a magic number for the state, Burlington will be able to put all 270 units towards its affordable housing percentage. 


That percentage is important and the driving factor behind why the town is considering 40B projects. Under Massachusetts law, a town must have at least10 percent affordable housing in order to meet the 40B requirement. If a town falls below 10 percent, it loses a lot of the power it has if a developer comes in and wants to build an affordable housing project. The biggest concern raised at the meeting is that the town could lose a lot of the control it has as to where an affordable housing project might be built. 


Currently Burlington has 10.4 percent affordable housing though there is a fear the number will drop when the amount is re-evaluated during the 2020 Census. 


In March the board chose between two proposed projects, the one at Corporate Center, which was ultimately chosen, and another in The District. Since that time members of a subcommittee have worked with the Davis Company, the owner of the site, and various town department to work out the details. 


With the board’s vote the project will now go to the ZBA for review for all necessary board, department and committee approvals. After that the plan must be approved by the state before going back to the Zoning Board for final approval. 


“I’m pleased to be moving forward,” Selectman Mike Runyan, who was part of the subcommittee, said. 


There was also discussion about why the site is ideal for this project. Attorney Robert Buckley, representing the Davis Company, said it is a good location because it is tucked away, is not near any residential neighborhoods and is close to the highway. 


Also, as part of the agreement, the Davis Company would make a $600,000 gift to the town that will be used for future affordable housing programs. One program highlighted in the discussion was addressing senior citizens who make too much to qualify for traditional affordable housing but not enough to afford market rates. 

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