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9.14.20 Saugus looks towards 2035

Saugus has partnered with the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (MAPC) to update its Master Plan. Areas of focus for the Master Plan include: land use, housing, economic development, natural/cultural resources, open space, recreation, and transportation. Saugus's Master Plan was last updated in 1988. This new version of the plan will focus on creaing strategies and implementation actions to guide the community to 2035.

The process to update the Master Plan will begin with a Kick-Off Visioning Forum on Zoom from 5-6:30pm tomorrow, Tuesday September 15th. Registration is required to participate. You can register here.

After the event, an online open house will be available through the end of October to provide further feedback.

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8.21.20 The Trustees Report release "State of the Coast"

 

The Trustees of Reservations has released a report that analyzes the impact of climate change on the North Shore coastline. The report, named State of the Coast, focuses on the shoreline from Salisbury to Swampscott. This is the first of 4 reports that the Trustees will release focusing on different regions of the Massachusetts coastline.

The report contains sections on beaches, salt marshes, and housing development (specifically along the coast and within 100-year flood zones). The report also makes recommendations on steps communities can take to increase their climate resiliency.

REALTORS® recognize that the value of real estate now and in the future depends upon the protection of the natural environment. The North Shore Association of REALTORS® will continue to engage with our local communities as they consider climate resiliency efforts, especially when those efforts overlap with housing and private property rights. 

You can find the report here.

 

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8.19.20 Gloucester to Resume Hearings for Special Permits

Gloucester has now resumed public hearings for special permits. This comes after the city council had delayed public hearings and site visits until after the state of emergency in April.

The hearings will be held online and the site visits will be done in-person. Gloucester has successfully held other online hearings including those through the Planning Board and Conservation Commission. It is reported that public attendance has increased in some ways for those meetings.

The City Council will proceed with online public hearings and in-person site visits beginning with those who were already in queue prior to the stoppage in April.

You can read more about here.

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8.12.20 Rockport Adopts Community Impact Fee

At its annual town meeting last Saturday, Rockport voted to adopt two articles that will impose a 3% Community Impact Fee on short term rentals. 3% is the maximum percentage that can be implemented.

A Community Impact Fee is a tax applied to short term rentals (less than 31 days). Within Rockport the tax will apply to rentals that are either:

  • “Professionally managed” (defined as 2 or more units in non-primary residences)
  • Located within a two-family or three family primary residence

When a Community Impact Fee is adopted, at least thirty-five percent of the collected money must be dedicated to either affordable housing or local infrastructure projects. 

You can find more information on what was passed during the Rockport Town Meeting here.

 

 

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7.30.20 HUD Abolishes the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing Rule

The National Association of REALTORS® has voiced concern over HUD eliminating the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing Rule (AFFH) and replacing it with Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice.

AFFH was put into place in 2015 as a means to implement the 1968 Fair Housing Act’s mandate for government to take affirmative steps in addressing segregation. Under AFFH, any city or town that receives federal funding is required to examine racial bias in local housing and design a plan to address such bias.

The new Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice rule requires cities and towns to affirm that they have furthered fair housing would by proposing any action above what is required by statute related to promoting any of the attributes of fair housing.  Fair housing is described as “affordable, safe, decent, free of unlawful discrimination, and accessible under civil rights laws.” HUD is still able to terminate funding if a city or town is found to have not adhered to the rule.

NAR argues that this significantly weakens the federal government’s commitment to the goals of the Fair Housing Act. You can read more about the REALTOR® position here.

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7.28.20 Paving the way for New Beverly Waterfront Restaurant

At 1 Water St, a city owned lot in Beverly, a lease has been signed for a 350-seat waterfront restaurant called Mission Boathouse.

Except, it is not completely clear if such a lease is allowable. In order to avoid any ambiguity, Representative Jerry Parisella and Senator Joan Lovely have filled a bill following a home-rule petition passed by the city of Beverly. This legislation, if passed, would clearly allow the use of the land for the construction of the restaurant.

The reason a restaurant may not be permitted is because Beverly acquired the property using a state parks and recreation grant, which placed certain protections on the land. Even so, city officials, Rep. Parisella, and the city solicitor all agree that that the restaurant is within the current permitted use and the legislation is helpful to avoid a legal battle but not required to proceed with the development.

The project is currently waiting for a state waterways license from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. You can read more about the legislation here.

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