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6.7.19 Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Deductions Begin July 1: What Brokers Need to Know

In 2018, Massachusetts enacted a law that provides paid family and medical leave (PFML) benefits to workers. This requires businesses, including real estate businesses, to begin taking payroll deductions from their employee and contractor’s wages to contribute to the Family and Employment Security Trust Fund, beginning  July 1, 2019.

Most Massachusetts real estate brokerages will be covered by the law because it counts contractors towards the total number of individuals covered if they make up more than half of the workforce of the company. MAR recommends that Brokers open an account with MassTaxConnect, as all earnings reports and contributions will be made through this system.

All workers must receive proper notification of the changes by June 30, 2019, which includes hanging a readily visible poster about the changes as well as releasing a written notification and giving workers an opportunity to acknowledge receipt of the notice.

MAR hosted a free webinar on PFML on Thursday, June 6th, which can be viewed here.

For more information about how PFML effects real estate brokers, view MAR’s infographic. For more information on Paid Family and Medical Leave, visit the Department of Family and Medical Leave Website.

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6.4.19 NFIP Extended to September 30th

Late on Monday, June 3rd, the House passed a disaster aid bill (H.R. 2157) that extends the National Flood Insurance Program through September 30th. It now heads to President Donald Trump, who is expected it sign it.

The legislation, which the House passed in a 354-58 vote, averts a lapse in the program on June 14th. Trump signed a stopgap, two-week extension this past Friday after some House members objected to expedited passage of the disaster bill.

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5.31.19 NFIP Extended Until June 14th

On Thursday, May 30th, Congress unanimously voted to renew the National Flood Insurance Program until June 14th, after the Senate approved the reauthorization last week. This will allow the NFIP to continue issuing insurance at the beginning of the hurricane season.

If the program eventually expires, NFIP will no longer be authorized to renew or sell flood insurance policies. Additionally, it will be unable to acquire new funding and once its existing funding is spent, NFIP will not be allowed to borrow more. In areas at risk for floods, it will be up to lenders whether or not to issue loans to potentially affected homebuyers, as the requirement to purchase flood insurance will no longer be in effect.

NAR continues to work to support the extension of NFIP through grassroots organizing and lobbying activities. During hill visits two weeks ago, flood insurance was a major talking point for REALTORS® speaking with their legislators. With many areas of the North Shore at risk for flooding, updates to the NFIP’s mandate continue to be important for homeowners and prospective buyers in the region.

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5.24.19 Zoning Ordinance Aims to Turn Commercial Land into Housing for Families

Hearings on an amendment to the zoning ordinance to create a Residential Overlay District in areas currently zoned BR along Route 1 South in Peabody were held on April 18th and 24th, and it was passed 10-0 by the Peabody City Council at the April 24th meeting. This came after the amendment was presented  by Peabody’s Director of Community Development and Planning at the Planning Board’s April 19th meeting.

The Overlay District allows for the construction of multifamily housing in and around the North Shore Mall property as well as on parcels along Route 1 Southbound. The Overlay District comes with an assurance that all projects of eight units or more would be 15% affordable housing, a number which, according to the Salem News is more than the City currently requires on larger multifamily projects.

The creation of this overlay district is one method being utilized in the current push, led by Gov. Baker, to increase housing production throughout the state in the hopes of improving the amount of affordable housing available by building up the overall stock of homes on the market.

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5.21.19 Event: Lynn Waterfront Master Plan Final Draft Public Meeting

Interested in learning more about the development of the Lynn waterfront? NSAR members are invited to attend a public meeting on Wednesday, May 29th to discuss the final draft of the Lynn Municipal Harbor Plan and Waterfront Master Plan. The meeting will cover the plan to create a number of open and active public spaces along the Lynn waterfront within the 305-acre waterfront redevelopment area.

The meeting will run from 6:00pm to 7:30pm in the Lynn Housing Authority Community Room at 10 Church Street in Lynn. This is a great opportunity for members who are working in Lynn to learn about new public spaces, mixed-use developments and improvements to the harbor which will be coming to the community over the next several years. For more information about this event, contact Mary Jane Smalley by emailing or calling 781-581-9399.

View the event flyer here.

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5.17.19 Lynn Councilor Voices Opposition to Garelick Farms Zoning Proposal

Ward 2 City Councilor Rick Starbard came out against a proposed zoning change which he says would allow the developer currently in talks to purchase the former Garelick Farms site to turn the area into a “junkyard.”

Boston real estate firm A.W. Perry has said that the deal they signed to purchase the property is contingent upon City Council approval of a change to the zoning ordinance which would allow the use of the property for light industry and mixed use development including housing and small businesses. The property is currently zoned to allow only the manufacturing of dairy products. The developer has stated that the light industry plans for the property are simply a means to generate income from the development while the issues facing the mixed-use development are worked out.

Starbard believes that the proposed light industry uses of the property don’t fit into the city’s plan for the waterfront, which has already led to the denial of other proposed light industry projects in the area. The ordinance process is expected to take several months, and must take into account the proposed housing and hotel plans’ proximity to a municipal wastewater treatment plant.

Starbard has expressed his desire to continue opposing the light industry use of the property, stating that  “If they’re going to look for a zoning change to allow these uses and once the sewer treatment plant goes away, they’ll pop up a hotel, it won’t be in my lifetime.”

Read about the debate over zoning in Lynn at the Daily Item.

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