By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — For the second time in as many months, the Zoning Board of Appeals has invoked a “safe harbor” provision of state law in an attempt to stop a 40B affordable housing project in town.
At its Nov. 15 meeting, the ZBA officially opened the public hearing on an application to construct a 32-unit 40B project at 32-32A Nahant St and 36 Nahant St.
Chairman Thomas Lucey then read a prepared statement asserting “safe harbor” status on behalf of the town as a basis for denying the application.
“The board has opened this hearing within 30 days after receipt of the applicant’s application under G.L. c. 40B in order to
comply with the schedule imposed by 760 CMR 56.05,” Lucey said.
“However, I do not wish to waste the time and money of the applicant by conducting a hearing that will likely prove to be
“As we all know, the Town of Wakefield has made tremendous progress – and even more impressive recent progress – in
growing its subsidized housing inventory. We may not yet be at the 10 percent threshold, but I believe that we have developed so much qualifying housing in recent times that the Town now fits into one or more of the so-called ‘safe harbors’ created by the 40B regulations for communities that have achieved various statutory minima or that have made recent progress toward doing so,” Lucey stated.
Under 760 CMR 56.03(8), if the ZBA believes that it has satisfied the requirements of such a safe harbor, and that as a
result it would be entitled to deny a pending permit application, the Board must give written notice to the applicant, with a copy to the state’s Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities, within 15 days after opening the hearing on such an application. The notice must state the basis for the safe harbor and enclose any necessary documentation. The applicant may challenge the Board’s contention within 15 days after receiving the Board’s notice. The EOHLC will then make a decision within 30 days of receipt of both parties’ materials. This procedure tolls the requirement of terminating the 40B hearing within 180 days.
Lucey suggested continuing the hearing to permit the Board to write to the state to assert the town’s safe harbor status, to allow the applicant to file any rebuttal, and to receive a decision.
ZBA member David Hatfield then made a motion to continue
this hearing until 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023. The board voted unanimously to approve the motion to continue.
In October, the ZBA invoked the same provision of state law in an effort to deny another application to build a 100-unit 40B project at 119 Nahant St., 0 Nahant St., 127 Nahant St. and 135 Nahant St. Much of this site was once occupied by a business known as Precision Honing.
The board has not yet received a decision from the state on the earlier safe harbor claim.