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2.10.20 Essex Considers Mixed-Use Downtown


The Essex Planning Board is preparing a new zoning bylaw to create a mixed-use zoning district downtown. The concept has been shown support by the Board of Selection, the Economic Development Committee, and the Essex Housing Coalition. The most widespread trend in zoning for multi-family housing has been to adopt mixed use zoning.

After completion of the proposal by the Planning Board a public hearing will precede the Town Meeting in May.  Since the change pertains to zoning bylaws it will require a two-thirds majority to pass.

You can read more about the Essex proposal here.


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1.29.20 Housing Lynn

This week, the first Housing Lynn public forum was held.  Housing Lynn is an initiative, in partnership with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), to develop a Housing Production Plan to guide the future development of the city.  The initiative will stretch through most of 2020 and centers around a community-driven process to understand Lynn’s housing needs.

This event comes on the heels of the Lynn City Summit held in November, where Housing was also a major topic.

During the conversation community leaders and community members spoke to what they saw as the housing crisis in Lynn. Rising rents, the shortage of inventory, and luxury development were among the discussion topics.

Two more public forums will be held in the Spring and the Fall.  For more information and quotes from the event click here.


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1.23.20 Inclusionary Zoning for Salem


Expressed as a top housing initiative by Mayor Kim Driscoll at the start of the year, Salem’s Affordable Housing Trust has forwarded an Inclusionary Zoning Ordnance for comment.

The ordinance would impact developments containing 6 or more units and require 10% of the units to be Affordable Housing.  Fraction of units can either be rounded up (for example 1.8 to 2) or a cash payment can be made to the Affordable Housing Trust.  The Affordable Housing units would be capped at 60% of Area Median Income (AMI).  The ordinance does allow for a higher AMI restriction for the B5 district (downtown) if the developer can show that 60% would make the project infeasible.  No alternative to the construction of the units (such as a Fee-in-lieu payment or off site construction) is proposed, both of which are common in other North Shore communities.

The proposed ordinance is currently with the Zoning Board of Appeals, Chair of the Planning Board, and the City Solicitor for comment.

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1.8.20 Stand Together and Stop New Sales Tax on Real Estate


Attention North Shore REALTORS® and homeowners, the Massachusetts legislature is considering a bill that would allow cities and towns the authority to implement a new sales tax for homes. Your legislators need to hear from you TODAY!

This could add up to $10,000 to the cost of buying the average priced home in the North Shore in the name of affordable housing.

What the bill does is allow cities and towns with an Affordable Housing Trust to impose a fee or range of fees from .5% to 2% of the purchase price to the sale of a property.  This money would go directly to the Affordable Housing Trust. This is not something buyers and sellers on the North Shore can afford.

Please, take a few seconds and contact your state representative and your state senator by clicking here.  It is as fast as filling in your name, adress, and clicking send.  After you are done spread the word!  There is strength when we stand together for homeownership.


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1.2.20 Housing Still the Focus for Salem in 2020

Accessory Dwellings Units (again) and Inclusionary Zoning are on Mayor Driscoll’s housing agenda for 2020.

After failing to pass the ADU ordinance in 2019 by lacking the required super majority, the Mayor hopes that the updated 2020 ordinance will be in a better position to get adopted.  Some of the benefits to homeowners discussed in 2019 should be packaged in the new 2020 ordinance, including tax exemptions and a loan fund.  The Mayor has state her goal is to have an ADU ordinance adopted in 2020.

Inclusionary Zoning will be a new proposal for consideration.  This would require that housing projects of a certain size include Affordable Housing Units.   Besides increasing the stock of Affordable Housing Units, the goal of the proposal would also be to create a central place to apply for Affordable Housing instead of having to apply to individual projects as is currently the case for residents who seek Affordable Housing in Salem.  The Inclusionary Zoning proposal is expected to arrive in early 2020.

You can read more of the Mayor’s comments on housing here.

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12.20.19 Housing Choice Moves Out of Committee

Yesterday, the Housing Committee voted 16-1 to favorably recommend Governor Baker’s Housing Choice Bill out of committee.  This is a strong move forward for the bill that had been in committee for some time. 

Speaker DeLeo indicated that this favorable recommendation is not a sign that an agreement has been reached on the issue.  Chair of the Housing Committee Rep. Kevin Honan said the goal is to vote on the bill sometime in 2020.

MAR has supported the Governor’s Housing Choice Bill since its introduction.  A highlight of the bill is the reduction on the required votes to pass certain zoning changes from a super majority of 66% to a simple majority at 50%.  On the North Shore, there have been several recent votes of the Salem City Council that would have passed if the Housing Choice Bill was in place but did not reach the supermajority threshold.

You can read more about what state legislators are saying here in CommonWealth Magazine.

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