Multi-family housing draft expected for July 10

By Angie Hilsman | Jun 27, 2017

The Planning Board is finessing a multi-family housing bylaw that members hope will both encourage developers and balance the needs of the community.

The board is considering requiring that any new multifamily housing development — within a specified stretch of State Road — offer a minimum of 10 percent of “affordable” units. Members are also considering capping the number of units per building to 16, limiting the number of units to 4.5 per acre of land, requiring that buildings be no more than three stories, and mandating that developers use pitched roofs.

Planning Board members discussed the bylaw, which targets a section of Route 6 between Cross Road and the Westport town line, at their meeting on Monday, June 26. Town Planner John Hansen said the goal is to attract developers without putting a huge strain on the town's resources and services, including schools, sewer, and water.

"I didn't want to draft up a bylaw that discourages everybody,” noted Planning Board member John Sousa, “and we didn't.”

Construction of any multi-family housing units would require a special permit from the Planning Board.

The current proposal follows up on an unpopular measure introduced earlier this year, which would have allowed multi-family housing in the town's general business districts — including areas around Route 6/Faunce Corner Road, an area west of Slocum Road, and a small section of Dartmouth Street. That measure was quashed after officials and residents alike realized it was too broad and would have permitted multi-family developments in neighborhoods of single-family homes.

Planning Board members on Monday asked for a copy of a master development plan, which would give them insight as to how many homes can be added to the grid without overloading it.

"You can only add 'X' amount of houses before the sewage treatment center is in trouble," said Sousa. "Where are we at with capacity? How far can we go?"

While Hansen noted that multi-family units weren't considered when the master plan was created, board members said it would help them understand the "tipping point."

"We want to make sure the density will work well with developers without adversely impacting the town," said Hansen, also listing traffic as a concern.

Dartmouth Woods Luxury Apartments owners Jon and Jay Bovarnick, on hand to discuss a possible expansion, said the proposal would not dissuade them from further development.

Dartmouth Woods is located at 629 State Road. Bovarnicks' proposed expansion would remedy contaminated land along Route 6, officials said. In a prior interview, Hansen said the town hoped to see further development along Route 6 clean up blighted properties.

The board aims to discuss the first draft of the multi-family housing bylaw at its July 10 meeting, and have a proposal ready for vote by fall Town Meeting. The board will complete impact studies, hold public hearings, and consult with legal representatives throughout the process, said Hansen.

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