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GA Blog: Smart Growth

Showing blogs: 16 of 22

11.18.19 Danvers Community Workshop focusing on Downtown Corridor

On November 26th, the Danvers Planning Board will be holding a community workshop to receive public comment on the Downtown Corridor re-zoning initiative. 

Draft zoning and design guidelines have been prepared by Brovitz Community Planning & Design.  The rezoning initiative will focus on allowing a mixture of land uses to create a more vibrant, walkable, and livable downtown.  Guidelines will also focus creating design standards to address facades, building treatments, and signage inside the Downtown Corridor.

The National Association of REALTORS® has championed the use of Smart Growth techniques as a proven, favored approach to development.   That includes making downtowns walkable and adopting mixed zoning to accommodate both residential and commercial in the same neighborhood.

The workshop will take place at the Danvers Town Hall in the Toomey Room at 7pm.

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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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3.29.16 State Funds Assisting in Local Infrastructure Projects

Lower Millyard in Amesbury, MA

The Newburyport Daily News reports that Gov. Charlie Baker, who took office a year ago, wants to expand the popular MassWorks program as part of a five-year, $1 billion plan to rejuvenate communities still struggling to take advantage of the Commonwealth’s recent economic upswing.

Massworks is a program under the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development designed to help cities and towns upgrade their infrastructure. Governor Baker’s plan calls for borrowing $500 million over five years to boost funding for MassWorks by nearly 35%.  To date, MassWorks has parceled out more than $330 million in grants.

North of Boston communities - including Newburyport, Salisbury, Amesbury, Salem, Lawrence, Haverhill, Peabody, and Beverly - have received more than $42 million since the MassWorks program got underway. These projects include:

  1. Amesbury - a 1.6-acre site in the Lower Millyard quarter is now Heritage Park, where a private developer continues work on a multi-story complex of housing, office and retail space [pictured above].
  2. Haverhill - along the Merrimack River in Haverhill, a once-tired cityscape has been revitalized with a new boardwalk and parks, spurring private investment in a new complex of offices, storefronts and housing.
  3. Peabody - leaders plan to reconfigure traffic-choked Peabody Square by moving a Civil War monument and adding street lights, trees and crosswalks, in hopes of luring investment downtown. Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt said the money has been vital to the city’s downtown. “It’s helped make the downtown safer for pedestrians and more attractive,” he said. “And it’s paid off for us with significant properties being purchased by new developers who have exciting plans for the downtown.”

No match needed:  Andrew Herlihy, director of the Haverhill’s community development department, said an aspect of MassWorks that makes it so attractive is there are no requirements for communities to match the investment.  In addition to boosting MassWorks funding, Baker’s economic development proposal asks for $50 million for a separate MassDevelopment program that makes longterm equity investments in properties in “gateway cities” such as Lawrence, Methuen, Salem and Haverhill.

Previous local MassWorks grants:

  • Amesbury 2015:  enhancements to the Intersection of Route 110 and Route 150, $1,107,812, including signal upgrades, intersection modifications, and the construction of new sidewalks to Amesbury’s downtown. The improvements will allow the construction of Amesbury Heights, a 240-unit housing development, to begin in the spring.
  • Newburyport 2015: increased sewer capacity and sidewalk extension, $2,000,000, allowing Newburyport to leverage $4.45 million committed by the city to increase sewer capacity and extend sidewalks in the recently adopted 40R Smart Growth district. The infrastructure improvements will support a $16.5 million 80-unit mixed-use development located next to the MBTA commuter rail station and enable the future construction of 440 units in the 40R District.
  • Salisbury 2014: Salisbury Square Water System Improvement, $1,708,769, to upgrade the water distribution system in the town center. The replacement of existing water mains and the addition of new mains will enable the Spalding School site and 29 Elm St. to be developed into 42 housing units. The MassWorks award leverages $9 million in private investments for this project and creates opportunities for additional redevelopment in the area. 
  • Amesbury 2013: Lower Millyard Water Street Improvement Project - Amesbury’s Lower Millyard has been the focus of a significant economic development and mill revitalization effort in the downtown. The MassWorks award allowed for the realignment and addition of streetscape improvements to Water Street providing for increased pedestrian and traffic safety. The city voted to invest $5.9M in the relocation of the DPW yard, $1.5M for the construction of Heritage Park and Merrimack Valley RTA has invested $7M in its Transportation Center. The city estimated 289 housing units could be created in the Lower Millyard area.
  • Amesbury 2011:  In 2011, EOHED awarded a $1,250,000 grant through the MassWorks Infrastructure Program to reconstruct roadway infrastructure to support the development in the Lower Millyard section of the City of Amesbury. As the sole access to the Lower Millyard, Elm Street has numerous safety issues affecting the development of the area including roadway deterioration, lack of defined sidewalks, 90-degree turns, missing curbing, poor drainage, and increased traffic at severely restricted intersections. The improvements are critical to the Lower Millyard revitalization and will allow for the expansion of existing industries and the construction of new rehabilitated facilities.

Read the entire Newburyport Daily News article.

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8.5.13 Proposed New 30-Home "Pocket Neighborhood" in Salisbury

 Village at Salisbury Square in Salisbury

According to the Daily News, there is a new 30-home development proposed in Salisbury.  The project, “Village at Salisbury Square”, would sit on 5.94 acres, be accessed at 12 Beach Road behind Pat’s Diner, within walking distance to Salisbury Square.

This type of development is generically referred to as a “pocket neighborhood.”  Village at Salisbury Square would maintain 65% open space, allowing a number of small greens with abutting homes around the lot.

While in traditional subdivisions, a substantial portion of land is paved to accommodate roads, and houses abut the street as activities take place in backyards and on back decks; however, according to the article, in pocket neighborhoods, the concept is different.  Large front porches play important roles. In front of the homes, sidewalks link the dwellings, not streets.  Garages are incorporated into the development, but are located in the back, where they’re accessed off small alleyways.

The Village at Salisbury Square will hold 27 single-family homes and 4 duplexes.  They’ll range from 1,260-1,640sf. Twenty-six will be 3-bedroom units and four will have 2 bedrooms. The price range will be $290,000-$369,000.

This type of development is possible in Salisbury because of zoning created years ago in the Salisbury Square area, Hill said.  Most of this acreage is in the Village Residential Overlay District, with a small portion in the southwest corner in the Village Center District.  Approved by Town Meeting in 2006, both of these zoning districts surround Salisbury Square. The zoning allows more housing density on the land than the two-acre lot method.

Read the entire Daily News article.

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6.15.11 Hamilton Looks into Smart Growth Opportunity

Proposed Concord Riverwalk development in Hamilton

The Hamilton-Wenham Chronicle recently reported that Hamilton is looking into the possibilities of working with a local “smart growth” developer, Genesis Planners, Inc. The developers specialize in projects that focus on “locating development near existing town centers, facilitating walking, limiting sprawl, yet preserving open space and utilizing existing infrastructure.”

“Our research indicates that the majority of households in the U.S. are made up of one and two people,” said land developer Dan Gainsboro. After studying the work of a well known smart-growth architect, Gainsboro saw potential for his Hamilton lot and based his plans around one project in particular that consisted of 2-3 bedroom cottages.

Upcoming plans include Gainsboro and a real estate attorney to “assist” the Town with local cottage bylaws. The local planning board will be holding public meetings June 14th and 28th.

Read the entire Hamilton-Wenham Chronicle article.

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6.1.11 MBTA Bus Route Coming to Danvers and Possibly to Beverly Commuter Rail Station

The Beverly Citizen recently reported that a new MBTA bus line may be coming to Danvers and possibly the Beverly Depot commuter rail station. The proposed route would focus on several stops throughout Danvers, as well as the North Shore Community College.

The MBTA had once offered a similar route, however, it was cancelled in 2002 for low ridership. State Rep. Ted Speliotis (D-Danvers) believes that the new route would be a success due to new developments and expansions at Danvers State Hospital, Conifer Hill, and the North Shore Community College.

The bus would also have stops at the Essex Agricultural and Technical School, Saint John’s Preparatory School, Essex County Corrections in Middleton, the Danvers Group Home, CAB Health Services on Middleton Road, Danvers Plaza and Beverly Hospital at Danvers.

Read the entire Beverly Citizen article.

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