Deadline approaching for East Wareham affordable housing project decision

By Matthew Bernat | Aug 08, 2018
The hearing for proposed affordable housing complex Woodland Cove has been continued to DATE.

Developers of an affordable housing complex proposed for East Wareham were back before town officials on Wednesday with plans to address several concerns as a deadline decision looms.

Ultimately, officials from the Waltham-based Dakota Partners hope the public hearing, which has spanned for months, will close on Aug. 22 and the Zoning Board of Appeals will then make a decision. The board has until Aug. 27 to vote on a comprehensive permit, pending an extension.

“I expect on Aug. 22 – we would hope, I’m not trying to be premature – that would be the last hearing,” said Dakota Partners’ Attorney Peter Freeman. “We might have finished the review and have a plan that’s acceptable to everyone.”

Original plans called for constructing six, three- and four-story buildings at 3102 Cranberry Highway. Dubbed Woodland Cove, the development originally would have included 174 apartments. New plans call for building 150 apartments. The project has come under intense criticism from town officials and residents, saying the project will tax town resources, including sewer, water, police and schools with the additional residents.

Because the project is considered an affordable housing project, it enjoys protections under state law Chapter 40B. Under Chapter 40B, zoning regulations are curtailed for developers in towns where less than 10 percent of homes or apartments are considered affordable.

Rents for the affordable apartments must not exceed state guidelines based upon a renter’s income. In Wareham, 7.7 percent of residences are affordable. Officials estimate if the project were built it would add roughly 2 percent to the amount of affordable housing in town.

Because Woodland Cove is proposed under 40B, officials have little recourse to deny it a permit. However, board members are allowed to review the plans and make suggestions to mitigate impacts on traffic, sewer and water infrastructure before issuing a permit.

At a previous hearing, Zoning Board of Appeals members told developers to address several concerns in the design plans. Among them: creating an appropriate spot for school buses while picking up students from the development; including laundry and storage in each building; creating open space for gardens and indoor playrooms.

Town engineer Charles Rowley said the changes would benefit future tenants.

“I think there are better ways of doing things that will make this a much better environment for the people living there,” said Rowley.

Freeman noted some of those concerns were addressed, including bus stop accommodations. A pick up area will be placed on Red Brook Road complete with bus shelter. Developers noted that the school department is deciding whether or not buses will be driving onto the site.

Zoning Board of Appeals member Wilma Engerman estimated there would be at least 200 children living in the finished project and argued that bus considerations were important. She said the proposed changes weren’t adequate. Developers said Engerman’s estimate was too high.

Director of Planning & Community Development Ken Buckland agreed. He estimated there would be 80 children in Woodland Cove, based on research he did on other affordable housing projects in town.

Chair Nazih Elkallassi urged developers to review a landscape plan, mentioning that more trees should be added.

“There needs to be more shrubs, more design to it,” said Elkallassi. “You should consult with a landscape architect and do it a little better.”

Board members then reviewed a list of recommendations from Buckland, including a request to build the project within six years. Freeman disagreed.

“We don’t agree with that and legal regulations don’t require it,” said Freeman. He added that state tax credit regulations make that a difficult proposition.

“It could be seven or eight years,” said Dakota Partners Vice President of Development & Construction Jim O’Brien. “We’ll build it out slowly, but it’s based on the awarding of tax credits.”

Freeman and the developers agreed to review the additional changes recommended and will return before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Aug. 22. The continued public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Multi-Service Center, located at 48 Marion Road.

Comments (17)
Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Aug 09, 2018 01:18

200 children or 80 children?  There is a big difference!  Seems like nobody knows for sure.



Posted by: thkng60@yahoo.com | Aug 09, 2018 06:10

BETTER KEEP BOTH SCHOOLS OPEN.

 



Posted by: noseyrich | Aug 09, 2018 07:32

Classify mobile homes as affordable, then tell this corporation to beat it!



Posted by: Spherebreaker | Aug 09, 2018 07:51

Cap the amount of kids allowed to live there at 12 forcing them to rent to elderly. Its still a 40 b project and they were allowed to build but not ruin the community by overloading the schools and the Police with the infestation of criminals and drug dealers that will live there. We don't need another Woods at Wareham or Brandy hill. This Town has enough creatures dumped here by the Welfare State.



Posted by: Steve Holmes | Aug 09, 2018 07:53

It might just be me, but it seems every time we have had one of these developments we are told that "this would add 2%" to our total. The variance in the number of children is mind boggling. Then add that the Board is requiring a bus stop on the property, however the School Dept has not determined whether or not their bus would use the bus stop???? Maybe I read that wrong. How can we require they build something on one hand, then on the other hand say we have not determined that the bus would stop in what we required they build?? Could be a delay tactic. With 13 days to go before the deadline, somebody needs to make up their mind, or these developers will be heading to the State Housing Court. Again this development will be built, I hope somebody is working on what the Town can get from these folks in return for them building this Affordable Housing site. We are chewing up those precious dollars by making them spend a ton of extra money on lawyers and engineers.



Posted by: Uptohere | Aug 09, 2018 09:23

11 is it true that housing is only good for so many years then reverts to regular housing thus putting us with still not enough housing?

2 is it true that that the housing project on Minto is up for sale and those apartmen's will no longer be low income? If that's true then we are open for more projects to invade our town.

3 can't we pass rules in our town on where and how big these projects should be in relation to our town.

4 when are we going to deal with the root of the problem and that is government interference in our town.



Posted by: cranky pants | Aug 09, 2018 13:57

Remember, every time a new house is built your overall percentages go down. Basically for every house built it pushes Wareham further and further from that magical 10%. At the rate some of these developments are going in we will never meet the requirements.

40B is a umbrella for shady developers to hide under and push the limitations of building constraints. Although designed with good intent, it really should be revamped to omit exploitation.



Posted by: bruce gannon | Aug 09, 2018 18:21

where to start?

150 units 38 will be low income

the government isn't interfering in our town they are protecting a segment of the population that for one reason or another would be shut out of the housing market, yes some are the dregs you all like to point fingers at most are older working / elderly, young working families, students, even recently discharged military and it's not just our town it's every city and town

mobile homes are not considered real estate for any purpose so until there is a general change in classification it's nothing Wareham or any community can change that

and last these aren't housing projects … you have no clue what housing projects are these are frankly nothing more than apartment complexes what 40B does is make it possible from developers to build high density housing in areas where it might not have been possible and in exchange for the variance they agree to set aside 25% for lower income individuals typically with a preference given to those that have lived in the community .. it is NOT a housing project .. you want to know what one of those looks like I'll take you for ride to Dorchester, Southie, The Bronx … be critical ask questions but try knowing a little something of which you speak



Posted by: cranky pants | Aug 09, 2018 20:11

Mmmmm

Kool-Aid.



Posted by: bruce gannon | Aug 10, 2018 09:10

mmmm

Kool-Aid

when you have nothing intelligent to say



Posted by: cranky pants | Aug 10, 2018 13:32

Impressing yourself ?



Posted by: Spherebreaker | Aug 10, 2018 14:28

Bruce you said the same things about Woods at Wareham, Brandy Hill Cranberry Crossing and other places I'm sure, Just look at the problems that have been put upon Wareham and its resources. Nothing but  dens of trouble.



Posted by: bruce gannon | Aug 10, 2018 16:32

can't dispute the Woods of Wareham, but I read a lot of stories in this paper about arrests, other police activity and not all of it is in these complexes … when an arrest is made involving one of these complexes everyone takes note, if the criminal lives some place else no one notices. Perception can become reality.



Posted by: Theresa ONeill | Aug 11, 2018 06:15

What is the status regarding this development straining Onset Water Dept?

 



Posted by: cranberry bog | Aug 11, 2018 06:41

I didn’t think anything would get us to move out of this town being the third generation to live here, but looks like it might be time to take our taxes and pay them to another town.



Posted by: Knocked for six | Aug 11, 2018 16:58

Thanks to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) developers love 40b as does any state that participated in the program. The Feds award about 9 BILLION a year to participating states.



Posted by: Knocked for six | Aug 11, 2018 16:59

Thanks to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) developers love 40b as does any state that participated in the program. The Feds award about 9 BILLION a year to participating states.



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