Vol. IV No. 12 6/15/2023
Key Takeaways from the Planning Board, June 6, 2023
Chair Kate Fletcher called the meeting to order. As the first meeting after the election, new officers were elected: Fletcher was reelected chair; Gary Pitney, Vice Chair; Wayne Slosek, Clerk; Lis Wheeler, rep to Community Preservation Committee.
There was one item on the agenda: review a preliminary plan from 35-37 Interlaken, owner, Pat Sheehan. Immediately, Attorney Jonathan Silverstein, on behalf of Sheehan, explained they had no intention of developing the land according to the plan submitted. Submitting the plan was the first step in "effecting a zoning freeze under Commonwealth law."
PB members seemed shocked — apparently believing it was a plan to be implemented. Town Counsel explained Sheehan was within his rights and it was correct about the law: if there is a change to the zoning law, Title 7, Chapter 40A, Section 6 (see below) allows the developer to preserve their options prior to the change in the law provided they submit a plan — followed by a definitive plan within 7 months and those conditions are then good for 8 years.
There was further confusion about whether there was any change to zoning laws (see below — Residential Inclusionary By law). After some questions, meeting adjourned — total meeting time 18 minutes.
Editor's note: On May 15, 2023, the Town voted to change our zoning bylaws to include the Residential Inclusionary Bylaw.
From Mass.gov "The purpose of an Inclusionary Zoning By-law is to increase the supply of housing that is available and affordable to low or moderate income households...The Inclusionary bylaw requires that market-rate housing developments with 10 or more units and in need of zoning relief support the creation of income-restricted housing through: Inclusion of income restricted units within their building development or pay to have them created elsewhere."
To avoid this obligation, 35-37 Interlaken filed a plan prior to Town Meeting according to:
Section 6: Existing structures, uses, or permits; certain subdivision plans; application of chapter — Section 6. Except as hereinafter provided, a zoning ordinance or by-law shall not apply to structures or uses lawfully in existence or lawfully begun, or to a building or special permit issued before the first publication of notice of the public hearing on such ordinance or by-law required by section five...
Photo: Lionel Delevingne