New projects help Methuen meet affordable housing goal

Eagle Tribune | By Lisa Kashinsky
April 16, 2017

METHUEN — Three projects that are in the process of gaining the city’s approval will finally push Methuen over the longstanding affordable housing threshold mandated by the state.

Chapter 40B is a state law that requires 10 percent of a municipality’s housing stock be deemed affordable. If a municipality fails to meet that threshold, developers have more leverage to push projects that include affordable units through local zoning boards.
That was the case when four members of the Zoning Board of Appeals approved a controversial 156-unit apartment building at 83 Pleasant Valley St. earlier this week. Some of the members said before the vote that they felt their hands were forced in the matter because of the project’s Chapter 40B status.

The Hill’s Farm proposal drew the ire of nearby residents. But, that project, coupled with an already approved assisted living complex on Howe Street and a smaller, 40-unit project on Broadway currently under Zoning Board review will finally push the city over the 10 percent affordable housing threshold, said William Buckley, the city’s director of economic and community development.

And crossing that threshold for the first time will finally give the city more control – and veto power – over the projects that come before its boards.

“We’re back in control of our own destiny,” Buckley said.

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