Mugar delay driving up costs for town’s campaign against project

Wicked Local Arlington | By Bram Berkowitz
January 4, 2017

The public hearing on the proposed 219-unit Thorndike Place development on the Mugar land in East Arlington may not resume until mid-year, but that doesn’t mean the town and the project developer won’t be spending money on it in the meantime.

In November, the Arlington Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously voted to appeal a recent state decision denying the town “safe harbor” status on affordable housing projects brought under the state’s Chapter 40B affordable housing law. In line with the law, just over 25 percent of the project’s units will be priced as affordable housing-meaning they will be within reach for people making 80 percent area median income.

Achieving safe harbor status would give the town a far better chance at killing the Mugar project, something that selectmen and scores of residents hope will happen.

Now, the battle over safe harbor status is heading to the state’s Housing Appeals Committee for an evidentiary hearing, a process that could take eight months from November.

According to Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, Town Meeting in 2016 appropriated $25,000 for the legal defense against the Mugar project.

“We will work hard to live within our resources [dedicated to the legal defense] for this fiscal year,” Chapdelaine told the Advocate in December. “Leading up to the fiscal 2018 budget, we will try and figure out what amount we may need.”

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