Hope the ZBA shoot this thing down!
From today's Lowell Sun:
Rogers Common conversion plan will go before Tewksbury ZBA tomorrow
By ALEXANDRA MAYER-HOHDAHL, Sun Staff
Article Last Updated:10/25/2006 11:41:56 AM EDT
TEWKSBURY -- Edward Doherty says he's not worried about facing the Board of Appeals tomorrow, although it will have the last say on whether the rental units in his Rogers Common affordable-housing development should be converted into for-sale condominiums.
"I'm confident in my conviction that it's the right thing to do," Doherty said this summer. "They would be short-sighted not to look at this thing."
Selectmen narrowly voted to give their blessing to the conversion in late July. But the proposal also needs the Board of Appeals' approval to go through. The board is scheduled to take up the conversion for the first time tomorrow at 6:55 p.m. during its meeting at Town Hall.
The selectmen's preliminary approval had raised some eyebrows in town, because the move eventually will cut Tewksbury's affordable-housing stock. But selectmen said they were won over by Doherty's proposal to give five of his units, each worth up to $500,000, to the Tewksbury Housing Authority.
As a for-sale development, Rogers Common will
only contribute those five units to the town's affordable-housing stock. All of Rogers Common's 20 units are currently counted in the housing stock, including those at market value, because it is a rental development.
Communities typically strive to garner as many affordable units as possible until they reach 10 percent affordability, at which point the final say over Chapter 40B projects shifts from the state to the community. As of June, Tewksbury's affordable-housing stock was at slightly less than 5 percent.
But Doherty dismissed the state guidelines as "misleading."
"The state says that if you have 100 (rental) units and only 25 of them are affordable, they will credit all 100 units as affordable. They're just tricking people," he said. "Besides, there's no such thing as an affordable (rental) apartment in Tewksbury."
Doherty pointed out that he currently earns $1,225 per month on the units that are deemed affordable in his development. His tenants would pay less than that a month to purchase his units, Doherty argued.
"They could own a real piece of property that they could call their own for less money," he said. "My track record is not to hurt people. I am a big supporter of affordable housing."
But opponents of the proposal have pointed out that both the Local Housing Partnership and two Board of Appeals consultants recommended against the conversion earlier this year.
Doherty said it is more important to note that Tewksbury Housing Authority Corinne Delaney -- "the guru of affordable housing," Doherty said -- backed his proposal, given that the authority would get the five units free of charge.
"Granted, it's not a lot, but it will be helpful for low-income families," Delaney told selectmen in July.
Some observers have also questioned whether Doherty, a former School Committee member, benefited from his connections to town officials in getting the selectmen's approval -- a suggestion that has been rejected by both selectmen and Doherty.
"A stranger gets treated better than me," he said.
Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl's e-mail address is email@example.com