Norwell: Concerns Raised with River Street Housing Project

In Norwell, concerns were raised about a payment agreement with the developers of an affordable housing project on the site of the old police station.

The Board of Selectmen were discussing a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement with Metro West Collaborative Development.

While initially Selectman Jason Brown supported the project, he said he’s concerned with the financial information that was submitted.

“When I looked at the pro forma for the operating financials for the 40 River Street project, it’s close to operating at a zero positive cash flow,” said Brown. “It’s a $12,000 positive cash flow, which can easily go negative.”

Brown’s concern is where payments would have to come from if the project operates at a loss. Under the proposal, the town could receive payments of $9,000, with a cap of $20,000.

Selectmen Vice-Chair Gregg McBride voted in favor of the PILOT, saying that projects are vetted by the state.

“[Metro West] is a non-profit, which is completely mission-driven. They don’t focus on whether they are making money or not. They are focused on providing affordable housing primarily for seniors, but not exclusively,” said McBride.

“Would it be better if they’re healthier financially? Yes, but we believe this project will be a benefit to the town of Norwell,” he added.

Brown felt it was not in the best interest of the town.

“In the event that the project operates at an operating loss, the town still gets a $9,000 PILOT payment – that has to come from somewhere. It would come from the $135,000 capitalization of the project which originated from the town of Norwell,” said Brown. “In a sense, we’re paying ourselves if it operates at a loss.”

Ultimately, the PILOT agreement was approved, 3-2 by a roll call vote. McBride, Alison Demong, and Ellen Allen voted in favor. Allen was present via telephone. Brown and Joe Rull were the dissenting votes.  

Voters have to approve the PILOT plan at a Town Meeting.

About Lenny Rowe

Lenny Rowe is one of the newest additions to the WATD News team. He grew up in Pembroke and was an intern at WATD in 2012. A 2016 graduate from Suffolk University, Lenny left the City of Boston and now lives in Rockland. Lenny has covered both news and sports, from the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Outside of WATD, Lenny covers high school sports for The Boston Globe. Lenny can be reached at