Town, Dartmouth Woods developers sign on to affordable housing initiative

By Douglas McCulloch | Nov 27, 2017
A preliminary design for the project.

A proposed affordable housing development on Route 6 will move forward with mutual cooperation from project developers and the town.

At its November 27 meeting, the Select Board voted unanimously to enter into the Local Initiative Program with the owners of Dartmouth Woods for their proposed affordable housing project, slated for an area of Route 6 currently occupied by Joe’s Used Cycles, about a mile west of the existing 629 State Road complex.

The proposal closely resembles Jon and Jay Bovarnick’s original Dartmouth Woods II project, which relied on the approval of a Town Meeting article allowing multi-family housing units on a stretch of Route 6.

The article was defeated at Town Meeting, but the brothers are moving forward under the state’s Chapter 40B laws, which grants developers seeking to build affordable housing the ability to bypass certain local zoning laws if a town's affordable housing stock is less than 10 percent.

In Dartmouth, only 8.25 percent of housing units are considered affordable, according to Town Administrator Cressman.

Under the agreement, the town will have more of a say in the proposal process than a project moved along without a local agreement under 40B, explained Paul Haverty, an attorney from from Blatman,Bobrowski and Haverty LLC. Town Administrator David Cressman noted the town will have greater input in areas including traffic mitigation and local choice.

With the approval, Haverty said the next step is a two-month process of finalizing the LIP application with the state Department of Housing and Community Development and securing a project eligibility letter. The developers can then file for a comprehensive permit with the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Attorney Robert Feingold, representing the developers, said if the town moves forward with the agreement, 70 percent of the proposed units would be offered to Dartmouth residents who qualify for affordable housing first, which is the maximum allowed under state law.

Feingold said the developers will also fund a majority of $550,000 in roadway improvements to the Reed Road-Route 6 area, even though roadway deficiencies are the town’s responsibility to fund. That would be accomplished with between $150,000-$170,000 in taxes owed by Mary Robinson, who owns the Joe's Used Cycles property, and an additional $500 for every unit approved.

“Everyone in Dartmouth knows that road at Route 6 is pretty much a bottleneck to say the least,” Feingold said. “It’s very difficult to get through that intersection coming off of 195 at times.”

Combined with money coming in from the nearby Lincoln Park project, Feingold said that could raise between $454,000 and $475,000.

Member Stanley Mickelson said that while he’s not in favor of 40B, he complimented Dartmouth Woods developers on how well they run their current apartment complex, and also vented his frustration over the defeat of the multi-family housing proposal.

“I just want everyone at home to know Town Meeting spoke, and this is what we get because we voted against [the multi-family housing proposal],” Mickelson said. “They were misled on social media, terribly misled.”

Member Kelli Martin Taglianetti agreed, adding that she recently toured the Dartmouth Woods complex and was impressed with the “tight ship” the brothers run.

“I’m just grateful this project doesn’t empty into Reed Road,” said Member John Haran. “Years ago the Planning Board plan had traffic exit onto Reed Road and that would’ve been horrendous there. This is a better plan.”

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