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9.6.07 Update: Danvers In-Law Apartment Law

According to a recent Danvers Herald article, applicants under the Extended Family Living Area in-law zoning by-law (EFLA), adopted January 31, 2007, are having are difficult time gaining approval following the August 11, 2007 ninety (90) day grace period.

Issues arising appear to be the maximum 750 sf requirement. Also, the Zoning Board of Appeals is waiting for clarification from the Planning Department while the towns (and applicants) feel their way through the new bylaw.

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9.4.07 Danvers In-Law Apartment Law

According to the Town of Danvers, the Extended Family Living Area zoning bylaw was adopted on January 31, 2007 by Town Meeting for purposes of providing flexibility within the existing zoning bylaw to afford an opportunity to accommodate additional living arrangements.

The zoning law, applies to Single family property owners with a pre-existing Extended Family Living Area (“EFLA”), commonly known as in-law apartments, and originally granted a ninety (90) day grace period, ending on August 11, 2007, to submit a building permit with the Building Inspector to permit the pre-existing EFLA to lawfully continue in existence. A pre-existing EFLA was one in which the necessary zoning permits were not obtained and is in existence unlawfully.

Under the grace period, all pre-existing EFLA’s were permitted to continue and were exempt from the requirements such as a maximum of 750 sq. ft., maximum of two occupants, and a restriction of separate utilities. However, to ensure public safety, all pre-existing EFLA’s were subject to applicable building, electrical, plumbing and fire codes.

After August 11, 2007, the ninety (90) day grace period expired and property owners are required to obtain a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals for the continuation of a pre-existing EFLA. Unlike the grace period, the continuation of an EFLA subject to the special permit are NOT exempt from the requirements and the Zoning Board of Appeals may impose conditions and corrective changes to bring the EFLA as close to conformity with the requirements of the bylaw as possible.

Failure to bring a pre-existing EFLA into compliance via the grace period or the special permit procedures may result in enforcement actions.

For more information, the EFLA bylaw may be viewed on the Town’s webpage at , then click Bylaws & Regulations, click on 2007 Zoning Bylaw, click Section 9, “Accessory Uses” and then scroll down to Section 9.3, “Extended Family Living Area or you may contact the Building Inspector at 978-777-0001.

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9.2.07 Danvers Senior Town Planner Departing

The Danvers Herald reported that after 5½ years as the Senior Town Planner, Evan Belansky will be leaving Danvers Sept. 7 to become the community development director in Chelmsford.

Belansky’s new job will entail additional managing and supervising responsibilities, including staffing the planning board, zoning board and conservation.

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9.2.07 Beverly Land Use Law to be Revisited

The Beverly Citizen recently reported that a relatively new, untraditional land use law, known as the Open Space and Residential Design Ordinance, may be undergoing some changes.

This law, unanimously approved by the City Council in December 2005 was meant to change the look of neighborhoods by requiring new neighborhoods to set aside half the land as open space, as well as requiring development to be worked around slopes, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas and other natural features.

Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Scott Houseman and Planning Board Vice Chairman John Thomson spent eighteen months writing the ordinance. The City Council debated it for a year before it was passed.
However, by January 2007, City Council President Paul Guanci said changes to the ordinance were one of his priorities; this coming after a review by Ken Buckland of The Cecil Group in Boston which found on many new lots the ordinance left little or no no developable land.

One of the changes would reduce the 100-foot buffer required around each property to 25-feet around the edge, including wetlands and riverfront areas. This would be on top of the wetlands buffer that are already in place according to Assistant Planning Director Leah Zambernardi.

These proposed changes are being reviewed by the Planning Board, which will discuss them when it meets next on Sept. 19, 2007. After that, a public hearing likely may be scheduled in late October or early November, according to Zambernardi.

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8.31.07 Foreclosure Relief from HUD

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development reported on August 31, 2007 that President George H. Bush plans to use HUD's Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to help an estimated 240,000 families avoid foreclosure by enhancing its refinancing program effective immediately. Under the new FHASecure plan, FHA will allow families with strong credit histories who had been making timely mortgage payments before their loans reset − but are now in default − to qualify for refinancing. In addition, FHA will implement risk-based premiums that match the borrower's credit profile with the insurance premium they pay; i.e., riskier borrowers pay more. According to HUD, “this common-sense, risk-based pricing structure will begin on January 1, 2008.” To qualify for FHASecure, eligible homeowners must meet the following five criteria:

  1. A history of on-time mortgage payments before the borrower's teaser rates expired and loans reset;
  2. Interest rates must have or will reset between June 2005 and December 2008;
  3. Three percent cash or equity in the home;
  4. A sustained history of employment; and
  5. Sufficient income to make the mortgage payment.
For more information about FHASecure and other FHA products, please call 1-800-CALL-FHA or visit or For a list of your local homeownership center or a HUD-approved housing counseling center, go to

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8.31.07 Developer to Appeal Beverly Subdivision Decision

According the Beverly Citizen, a developer who had sought permission to build a four-lot subdivision at 30 Foster Street in Beverly has appealed the decision by suing the Planning Board in Superior Court.

The Planning board purported denied the project following a site visit when they determined that there was an issue with the site plans. The board also denied the project because they felt it would add four to five times the amount of existing traffic at the intersection of Foster Street and the proposed new road.

The developer, Robert Hubbard, is arguing that the board’s denial was done improperly, that his plan conforms to the requirements of City zoning laws, and that there no was no evidence ever submitted to the Planning board to prove that the amount of traffic would increase that amount.

As of August 16, 2007, no hearing had been scheduled, but the Superior Court clerk is set to check on the case on November 19, 2007.

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