Plymouth: Safe Harbor May Protect the Town from ‘Hostile’ 40B Housing Developments

In Plymouth, The Oasis, a 320-unit 40B apartment complex near Home Depot on Long Pond Road has been approved by the ZBA. In addition a second 40B project of 320-units could be in the town’s future at Colony Place in West Plymouth. Chapter 40B is a state statute that allows developers to bypass zoning and planning regulations if at least 20 percent of the units in the development qualify as affordable, and if a town’s housing stock does not meet the 10% requirement of affordable units—which Plymouth does not. The town is then subject to what some call hostile 40B projects.

Lee Hartmann is Plymouth’s Planning Director:

“We have about 3.5% of our total housing stock as affordable. That means, deed restricted, approved by the state, that these, homes or apartments will stay affordable in perpetuity. So we have about 3% and the state requires 10%:

Because we don’t have that 10% developers can come in and do what is often called a hostile 40B, meaning it’s something that the town would rather not approve but because we don’t have 10% they’re allowed to come through this process.”

Hartmann says, the approval of the 320-unit 40B project near Home Depot, triggered the ability for the town to file with the state for a provision called Safe Harbor. Safe Harbor allows the town to deny any 40B project for a period of two years.

“We have filed with the state a request for them to certify us as a town that Safe Harbors for two years.”

The proposed 320 unit 40B project at Colony Place, called The Walk, has been filed with the state and the town is evaluating the application.

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About Bobbi Clark

Bobbi Clark is a Plymouth area reporter at WATD. She began her career in radio as a producer at a news/talk radio station in Chicago. From there she went to WMAQ-TV, the NBC owned and operated television station in Chicago, As a producer there, she won 5 Emmy Awards for production of special programming. Bobbi is a graduate of Emerson College, with a degree in Writing, Publishing and Literature.