Marra Property And Affordable Housing

On February 2, The Sun Chronicle reported,

“Selectmen say the move will help the town meet the state goal of communities having at least 10 percent of their housing stock classified as affordable, which would give Wrentham more say over 40B affordable housing projects that can bypass most local zoning. Also, assisted living is for senior citizens, which wouldn’t affect local schools, selectmen point out.” (“Funding for union contracts to be decided in Wrentham“)

I did not support this project and neither do I support disposing of the Marra property in that manner.  This it is yet another attempt to side step the intent of Chapter 40b, which is to create affordable housing for people like teachers and town employees and our children who otherwise cannot afford to live in our community.

The state is cracking down on projects like this. They want affordable housing for working people.  Moreover, this project in particular has so many moving parts that the likelihood of success is extremely low.

  • The project proposed at Town Meeting was a “friendly 40b” which means they do not have to face the rigors of the local permitting process.
  • The funding source is the U.S. government which is focused on bailing out Wall St, the banks, and the big three car companies–not human services.
  • The topography of Marra property site is hilly and is not suitable for disabled people.
  • The environmental remediation project is not completed.
  • Where is the list of non-profit companies prepared to step in?

We need to develop and execute a tangible and meaningful affordable housing plan. Changing  Zoning By-law article 13.3 last year was the first step. Previously, the only way to create affordable housing was by 40b projects, which are not required to submit to local zoning scrutiny.

Now we are free to develop projects over which the community will have a great deal of input.

The next step is to disband the 40b Committee and create an “Affordable Housing” committee or perhaps an “Affordable Housing Authority.”  We need to task them with viewing the issue with broader vision and we need to empower them to act in the best interest of the Town of Wrentham.