Zoning Board’s proposed by-law to convert development to rental will require a new hearing

Developers of the Settler’s Glen real estate development currently underway on Red Brook Road in East Wareham will have to undergo another round of public hearings to determine if the 20 condos can be converted from units for sale to units for rent.

The developers initially argued that the change could be considered minor, as the physical blueprints will remain the same.

At the Zoning Appeal Board meeting on November 10, the board voted that the change was, in fact, substantial and would require another round of hearings.

Under the initial plans, five of the twenty condos would be income-limited for those earning 80 percent or less of the area’s median income. Limited income units would be priced at $ 271,500 for a two-bedroom unit and $ 301,700 for the three-bedroom unit. The market rate units would likely sell for between $ 399,000 and $ 429,000.

Council Chairman Nazih Elkallassi noted that if the units are rentals, this will add the total of twenty units to the city’s affordable housing stock, bringing the city closer to the threshold that would allow the city to exercise more of control over projects 40B.

According to the original plan, only the five affordable units would be added to the city’s affordable housing stock.

Board member Chris Conti has looked at the law and said the change in housing form is listed as an example of a substantial change. Board members Veronica Debonise and Richard Semple have accepted.

Board member Jim Eacobacci seemed to think the board had no real power in this situation.

“No matter how we vote, with the right lawyer they will get what they want,” Eacobacci said. “So other than making them bleed a little, we’re a little – the best word I can use is screwed up.”

He said he considered this to be a substantial change, and added that he thought pride in owning was good for a neighborhood.

Lawyer Mark Bobrowski, representing the plaintiff, said the increase in the number of units added to the affordable housing stock was to the benefit of the city and added that the management company would ensure a good neighborhood vibe.

Eacobacchi initially proposed that the change be considered minor, but no one supported it. He then decided to treat it as a substantial change and a major modification.

The motion was passed 4-0-1 with Eacobacchi abstaining.

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