Question 2: Repealing Portions of the Chapter 40-B Zoning Law
What a Yes or No vote would mean for Westwood voters...
Question 2 on the November 2 ballot asks voters if they want to repeal certain section of Chapter 40B, known as the "anti-snob zoning law."
The law applies to towns that haven't met the state's requirement that all cities and towns have at least 10 percent of its housing dedicated to low and moderate-income residents.
Currently, a developer can apply for what's known as a "comprehensive permit" if it wishes to build a project that includes government subsided low or moderate income housing in a city or town where less than 10 percent of the housing is set aside to those residents.
The comprehensive permits allow the developer to bypass the multiple approvals of land use boards and instead go to only the Zoning Board of Appeals, who consider recommendations from other boards and officials before granting the permit.
A "Yes" vote would remove the comprehensive permit portion of Chapter 40-B and a "No" vote would keep the law in tact.
If repealed, it would be effective on January 1, 2o11, but would not stop previously issued permits.
The Coalition for the Repeal of 40B says that the exiting law promotes subsidized, high density development that doesn't always consider local law, the neighborhood and environment and takes away local control of development.
The Campaign to Protect the Affordable Housing Law says that the law has created 58,000 home since it was put on the books 40 years ago and is responsible for 80 percent of the affordable housing that has been built outside cities in the past decade.
Westwood currently has affordable housing at Chase Estates and Cedar Hill Estates. (On a side note, a Resale Lottery will be conducted on December 13 to generate an updated list of possible affordable homebuyers, in the event that any of the affordable houses at the estates becomes available for resale. For more information, click here.)
Here is the exact text as it appears on the November 2 ballot:
This proposed law would repeal an existing state law that allows a qualified organization wishing to build government-subsidized housing that includes low- or moderate-income units to apply for a single comprehensive permit from a city or town's zoning board of appeals (ZBA), instead of separate permits from each local agency or official having jurisdiction over any aspect of the proposed housing. The repeal would take effect on January 1, 2011, but would not stop or otherwise affect any proposed housing that had already received both a comprehensive permit and a building permit for at least one unit.
Under the existing law, the ZBA holds a public hearing on the application and considers the recommendations of local agencies and officials. The ZBA may grant a comprehensive permit that may include conditions or requirements concerning the height, site plan, size, shape, or building materials of the housing. Persons aggrieved by the ZBA's decision to grant a permit may appeal it to a court. If the ZBA denies the permit or grants it with conditions or requirements that make the housing uneconomic to build or to operate, the applicant may appeal to the state Housing Appeals Committee (HAC).
After a hearing, if the HAC rules that the ZBA's denial of a comprehensive permit was unreasonable and not consistent with local needs, the HAC orders the ZBA to issue the permit. If the HAC rules that the ZBA's decision issuing a comprehensive permit with conditions or requirements made the housing uneconomic to build or operate and was not consistent with local needs, the HAC orders the ZBA to modify or remove any such condition or requirement so as to make the proposal no longer uneconomic. The HAC cannot order the ZBA to issue any permit that would allow the housing to fall below minimum safety standards or site plan requirements. If the HAC rules that the ZBA's action was consistent with local needs, the HAC must uphold it even if it made the housing uneconomic. The HAC's decision is subject to review in the courts.
A condition or requirement makes housing "uneconomic" if it would prevent a public agency or non-profit organization from building or operating the housing except at a financial loss, or it would prevent a limited dividend organization from building or operating the housing without a reasonable return on its investment.
A ZBA's decision is "consistent with local needs" if it applies requirements that are reasonable in view of the regional need for low- and moderate-income housing and the number of low-income persons in the city or town, as well as the need to protect health and safety, promote better site and building design, and preserve open space, if those requirements are applied as equally as possible to both subsidized and unsubsidized housing. Requirements are considered "consistent with local needs" if more than 10% of the city or town's housing units are low- or moderate-income units or if such units are on sites making up at least 1.5% of the total private land zoned for residential, commercial, or industrial use in the city or town. Requirements are also considered "consistent with local needs" if the application would result, in any one calendar year, in beginning construction of low- or moderate-income housing on sites making up more than 0.3% of the total private land zoned for residential, commercial, or industrial use in the city or town, or on ten acres, whichever is larger.
The proposed law states that if any of its parts were declared invalid, the other parts would stay in effect.What Your Vote Will Do:
- A YES VOTE would repeal the state law allowing the issuance of a single comprehensive permit to build housing that includes low- or moderate-income units.
- A NO VOTE would make no change in the state law allowing issuance of such a comprehensive permit.
For more information on Ballot Question 2, click here.