By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD —— Town Councilors and other town officials have serious concerns about developer Jason Kearney’s proposal to build a new, six-story, 120-unit 40B affordable housing project at 119-135 Nahant St., the former location of Precision Honing Company.
Back in 2019, Kearney proposed a 26-unit project on the same site. That proposal was later withdrawn.
At this week’s Town Council meeting, Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio recounted a site visit that was conducted on May 8. Town Council members and various town department heads in attendance had many comments on the proposal, Maio said.
Maio talked about concerns over the height, size and mass of the building in the residential neighborhood. Another concern was the proposed building’s close proximity to the street. According to the plan, the building would sit just eight feet off the sidewalk.
Maio said that he expected the developer to be at this week’s Town Council meeting to discuss the proposed project, but that session was postponed after MassHousing, the state agency that administers 40B projects, asked for an opportunity to further review the proposal. The developer is now expected to appear at the Town Council’s June 12 meeting for a full presentation on the project.
Town Councilors expressed their own concerns about the proposal, with Councilor Edward Dombroski calling it “way too big.” He also noted that there would be almost no green space on the site. He observed that the building would not fit in with the character of the neighborhood and would change the entire area. He said that residents have been reaching out with concerns over the project.
It was also noted that Nahant Street is a narrow street and already has a lot of traffic.
Another site visit is scheduled for June 1 at 1 p.m.
This is not the first proposal to redevelop the site. In late 2019, the same applicant, Jason Kearney, sought Special Permits from the Zoning Board of Appeals that would have allowed him to construct a 26-unit garden-style apartment building on the parcels listed as 119, 127 and 135 Nahant St.
At the time, ZBA members expressed their opposition to the proposal, saying that it “brought too much density” to the site and wouldn’t fit in the neighborhood, which has mostly single family homes with a few two and three-family homes sprinkled in.
The ZBA approved Kearney’s request to withdraw that application without prejudice in April of 2020. He has now returned with the new 40B proposal.
Local communities have less control over 40B projects. Chapter 40B is a state statute that allows developers to override local zoning bylaws in order to increase the number of affordable homes in municipalities where less than 10 percent of the housing is defined as “affordable.”