BOSTON — The second day of a two-day remote Adjudicatory Hearing before the state’s Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) on the 20 Elm St. Chapter 40B application of NY Ventures starts this morning (Feb. 17) at 9:30 a.m. in what could be a precedent-setting ruling.

The hearing concerns the North Reading Zoning Board of Appeals and NY Ventures, LLC – No. 2019-11, and it was opened yesterday morning at 10 a.m. when the Transcript was going to press.

The HAC hears appeals related to the development of affordable housing in municipalities under G.L. c. 40B, §§ 20-23. This hearing is being held pursuant to G.L. c. 40B, § 22 as well as 760 CMR 56.07.

According the HAC legal notice: “This hearing will be conducted solely through remote participation in a manner to ensure that the public can adequately access the meeting in real time.”

To attend today’s hearing via video access, contact before the hearing (if possible) or during the hearing.

To attend today’s hearing via audio access only, call 1-857-327-9245 (Boston toll) at the start of, or during the hearing, and reference Conference ID: 177 760 090#

For reasonable accommodations regarding this meeting, contact 617-573-1527 (TTY 617-573-1140), and direct requests to the HAC Docket Clerk.

Appeal of 200-unit proposal

Over two years ago, the North Reading Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) declared safe harbor protection from the Ch. 40B comprehensive permit application of Nick Yebba’s NY Ventures proposal for 200 apartment units (five buildings with parking underneath) to be built on a portion of the property previously owned by the Thomson Country Club (the side with the function hall, pool, tennis courts, driving range and undeveloped land abutting portions of Riverside Drive and the Ipswich River).

Yebba had previously converted the function hall into Teresa’s Prime Steakhouse with Grille 19 on the lower level after acquiring the property from the TCC. He also created Resorts North, a recreational membership club for the two Olympic-size pools, kiddie pool, tennis courts and a children’s playground. This portion of the property is not included in the 40B proposal.

In response to the application, the ZBA, with the support of Town Meeting, which approved funding for legal representation, invoked a safe harbor exemption as allowed under Ch. 40B based on the state’s GLAM (general land area minimum) formula. The GLAM percentage is calculated by the state which determined that the town’s GLAM exceeded 1.5% (1.548295071% to be precise). This percentage is calculated by dividing the area of sites inventoried on the Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI) dedicated to affordable housing by the total land area in town potentially available for development, as defined by the state parameters.

This calculation includes all of the group homes in town, the locations of which are considered confidential information by the state under HIPAA. The state credited the town with having 49 confidential group home units on the SHI comprising 59.14 acres out of the 91.721 acres of land in town occupied by SHI units, such as other 40B rental and ownership units and units under Housing Authority control.

The group home GLAM number has been challenged by NY Ventures which has sought to have the HAC approve its request to unseal the addresses of group homes on the state’s confidential list to challenge the state’s calculations. This request has been opposed by the town and by a local resident, Elizabeth Coolidge-Stolz, who was granted standing in this matter before the HAC as she is the guardian of her adult child who resides in one of the group homes in town.

The HAC potentially could be making a precedent-setting decision because such a request to unseal the confidential addresses of group homes to any party – developers, proponents, opponents, municipalities or abutters – has not been granted by the HAC in the past.