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GA Blog: Inclusionary Zoning

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2.28.20 Salem City Council Considers Inclusionary Zoning

Last night, the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance drafted by the Salem’s Affordable Housing Trust was on the agenda for the Salem City Council. 

Salem does not currently have an Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance.  The ordinance would require 10% of units in developments of 6 or more total units to be Affordable Housing.  See more of the details of the proposed ordinance here.

The Salem City Council referred the ordinance to a joint public hearing with the Planning Board.  The public hearing date has not yet been scheduled.

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2.27.20 Georgetown Reviews Inclusionary Bylaw Amendment

Last night the Georgetown Planning Board held a Public Hearing to review a proposed amendment to the Inclusionary Housing Balance Bylaw.  The amendment, as it stands now, would make several changes to the current bylaw including lowering the threshold to any residential development and creating a new calculation for the fee-in-lieu payment.

Georgetown’s current Inclusionary Housing Bylaw only affects developments of 3 units or greater.  A lowering of that threshold to 'any residential development' would mean that the construction of any single-family home on a single lot would require an in-lieu payment. This payment would be 12% of the average market sale price of the property.  Based on new construction sale prices from 2017-2020 that would be approximately $77,000.

The Public Hearing was continued until the next Planning Board meeting on March 25th to allow time for additinoal review and comment.   NSAR was in attendance to provide public comment. Once the amendment is finalized it will be moved to be presented at Town Meeting later this year.

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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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1.2.20 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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11.19.19 Swampscott Passes Fee-in-Lieu Update

Article 9 passed with a two thirds majority vote at Swampscott’s Special Town Meeting on Monday.  The article further defined the Fee-in-Lieu payment that can be made by developers as an alternative to building affordable housing units per Swampscott’s inclusionary zoning bylaw.

"(The change will) make it easier to calculate and not leave funds on the table when a developer cannot produce the units and then is directed to make a payment," said Kimberly Martin-Epstein, chairwoman of the Affordable Housing Trust.

You can read a full description of the Town Meeting from the Lynn Item here.

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11.14.19 Swampscott Set to Address Fees-In-Lieu

At the Special Town Meeting on Monday November 18th, Swampscott has an Article to amend the zoning bylaws as it pertains to Fee in Lieu payments for Affordable Housing Units. The update will specifiy the payment amount and overall process in more detail.

The Swampscott inclusionary zoning bylaw applies to any subdivision of land that results in 6 or more dwelling units, any assisted or independent living facility development that includes 5 or more assisted or independent living units, or any project that results in a net increase of 10 units.  If a development meets the aforementioned requirements then at least 10% of the units must be established as affordable housing units or a Fees-in-Lieu payment can be made to the Affordable Housing Trust.


The Article up for consideration states that “Such Fee in Lieu shall be, for each required affordable unit, equal to 75% of the most current Total Development Cost per unit for projects of similar nature and size for the Metro Boston/Suburban Area in which Swampscott is situated, as articulated and made available by DHCD in the annual Qualified Allocation Plan.”

The Article will require a two-thirds vote to pass per the Massachusetts requirement for zoning changes.  You can read the warrant here.

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