Adams, Economic Officials Explain 40R Housing Bylaw
iBerkshires.com reports that Adams residents remain wary of a proposal to adopt the state's 40R legislation that would provide incentives for reusing old buildings for both the town and developers.
But Tuesday's more than two-hour meeting explaining step by step the statute, the definitions, and how a Smart Growth Overlay District would work seemed to temper some of the controversy.
The town's consideration of the 15-year-old Chapter 40R caused an uproar over the past couple months as many residents believed it referred to public or low-income housing. A number of posts on Facebook detailed problems with area public housing developments that are not 40R and expressed worry that the town would become a magnet for low-income housing.
After a particularly rancorous Planning Board hearing, town officials decided to hold the information session in an attempt to dispel rumors about how Chapter 40R works.
The state instituted 40R to incentivize developers to largely utilize existing structures to create market-rate housing that also provided a percentage of affordable housing units and space for retail or commerce.
Adams stands to gain up to $600,000 for adopting 40R and $3,000 per unit developed (Chapter 40S addresses school enrollment). Of the areas designated in the overlay — parts of Park Street, mills, schools, open space and other large structures — there is the potential for 629 units. However, the town would have to repay the amount should construction of units not be undertaken within three years.
At least 20 percent of the units must be considered affordable; the maximum is 40 percent unless local planning boards provide a waiver. The rest of the development would be market-rate housing.
But the region's zoning hasn't always kept up with the changes in the way people work and live over the past 50 years.
It's also a population in Adams that's getting poorer.
Residents in Adams raised many of those concerns, including the town's ability to absorb an influx of people and how the zoning change would affect their ability to utilize their own properties.
The meeting also briefly touched on the merits of putting the zoning bylaw before a special town meeting or a regular town meeting, weighing the pros and cons of each related to the town meeting member format.
The Planning Board will hold a hearing continuance on the zoning bylaw amendments on Monday at 7 p.m.