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Does 40B need an overhaul?

October 20, 2010
Charlton Town Planner Alan Gordon states what many of those who advocate keeping the Affordable Housing Law (known as Chapter 40B) on the books are saying in various ways.

"I completely agree it needs to be revised, but repealing it is throwing the baby out with the bathwater," he said. "That's not planning; that's a knee-jerk reaction."

Specifically, Gordon's referring to Question 2 on this year's state election ballot, Nov. 2. It is a petitioned item seeking to repeal the law that enables those seeking to build income-restricted housing to do so by going through only the local Zoning Board of Appeals, rather than having to hold hearings before all of the various town boards a development normally faces. Today, such proposals can take that shorter path if the community doesn't have at least 10 percent of its housing meeting state criteria for affordability.

The law has existed since the late 1960s, and keeping it is one of the few things all four gubernatorial candidates agree on.

According to Francy Ronayne, spokeswoman for the "No on 2" campaign, the law — which she agrees needs fixing — has contributed $9.25 billion in economic activity and 47,000 jobs to the state in the last decade and is responsible for about 80 percent of the affordable housing built outside the cities in that time.

"If the law goes away, 12,000 units that have been approved would vanish because shovels haven't been put in the ground," she argues. " It's a great tool providing incentive for the private sector to build low-income housing."

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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