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GA Blog: Peabody

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2.19.20 Peabody Voices Opposition to 40B Development

Neighbors and city officials have voiced their opposition to a proposed development of 133 condos at the site of the former J.B. Thomas Hospital site. 

Hemisphere Development Group LLC. Is looking to develop the site under Chapter 40B.  Since Peabody does not meet the state minimum of 10% Affordable Housing stock under 40B, the development is not required to meet all local zoning regulations if at least 20% of the units have long-term affordability restrictions.  The development is proposed to include 34 Affordable Units, which would be 25%. Hemisphere had submitted a different, 110-unit senior condo plan to the city last year but withdrew it amidst opposition.

February 18th was the deadline for comments to MassHousing.  Peabody is reported “to have hand delivered … to MassHousing a packet of about 50 letters and a petition with more than 500 signatures opposing the project.”

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12.11.19 Property Taxes Rising on the North Shore

Cities have begun announcing the new property tax rates for 2020 and in several local municipalities taxes will be on the rise.

In Peabody the average homeowner will see an increase of $194.  In Beverly the average homeowner will see an increase of $226.  In Salem, the average owner of a single-family home will see the lowest increase of the three at $87.26 but condo owners will see an increase of $160.77.

Although tax rates are indeed rising, much of the increase in the tax bill is due to higher assessment values.  In Salem alone the assessed value of the entire city rose by 12% and condo values are rising faster than single family values.  This is why the average condo owner in Salem is seeing almost double the increase in their bill compared to the average single family owner even though the tax rate is the same for both.

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10.9.19 Draft of 5 Year Housing Production Plan to be Presented to City Council

 

Peabody’s latest 5-Year Housing Production Plan is set to go before the City Council.  A vote will be taken at a later date after the presentation is made.

One of the focuses of the plan is affordable housing. Peabody only has 9.27% of its housing units considered as Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI), of which 78% are rentals and only 2% are ownership units.  This would allow a developer to utilize 40B, a state law which overrides local zoning for the construction of affordable housing.

The plan also notes a growing gap between incomes and housing costs.  The average median household income has only risen around $400 between 2010 and 2017.  In turn the median home value has increased $106,000.  Noting a priority need is more starter homes and options for downsizing

Some strategies, characterized in the plan as preferred by the municipality, include modifying its FALA ordinance (Accessory Dwelling Units), pursuing a 40R/40S smart growth overlay district, the promotion of nontraditional housing models, and changes to the cluster development ordinance among others.

NSAR will be watching for developments and opportunities to comment moving forward.  You can find more information on the plan and the plan itself here.

 

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7.19.19 Governor Baker Announces 2019 Affordable Rental Housing Awards

On July 18th in Swampscott, the 2019 Affordable Rental Housing Awards where announced by Governor Baker.  The North Shore was very well represented with four local recipients. The awards in total consist of nearly $80 million in direct subsidies and $38 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits to fund the development, renovation, and preservation of housing opportunities throughout Massachusetts. 

 

The four local winners are:  Cabot Street in Beverly, which will construct 24 new units as well as rehabilitating 45 existing units.  All of these units will be restricted to individuals earning less than 60% of the area median income.  Harbor Village in Gloucester will be a mixed-use project consisting of a commercial ground level and 30 new units which will be restricted to 60% of area median income.  The Tannery in Peabody is a preservation project.  When the rehab is completed there will be 200 units reserved for those earning less than 60% of area median income and 35 units for those earning less than 30% of area median income.  Finally, The Senior Residences at The Machon in Swampscott is a redevelopment project of an elementary school for senior citizens.  There will be 38 units available for seniors earning less than 60% of the area median income and 8 more units for seniors earning less than 30% of the area median income.

 

You can find the state house’s official press release here.

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7.17.19 Peabody’s 25% Affordable Housing Requirement Lowered to 20%

 

In April, it was voted by City Council to create a requirement of 25% affordable housing units for large developments.  At the same time the building height allowance was also raised to 5 floors.

After just 12 weeks those numbers have been voted to come back down.  First, the building height allowance was taken to 4 floors instead of 5.  Then on July 11th the Industrial & Community Development Committee, a sub-committee of the City Council, unanimously voted to lower the affordable housing percentage from 25% to 20%.

Curt Bellavance, the Community Development director, is quoted as saying: “We are looking for a compromise to get it to 20 percent” referring to the original 15% sought by the city and the 25% decision of the council.

The revised rule will go to the Planning Board and then to a public hearing from there.

Read the full coverage of before and after this decision in the Item here and here.

 

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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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