Housing Director Clarifies Town's Opposition To Surfside Crossing

Jason Graziadei •

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After three new legal challenges emerged against the Surfside Crossing 40B development last week - including a lawsuit by the town - Nantucket Housing Director Tucker Holland reached out to the Current to clarify the town's position.

The Select Board's official position, Holland said, is as follows:

"The project is not acceptable as proposed. Still, the Town remains open to further discussions with the developer in an effort to resolve areas of disagreement and in continued support of the development of affordable and attainable year-round housing under terms and conditions which adequately address issues of local concern. The Town declines to comment further as the project is the subject of pending litigation."

The statement was likely in response to Surfside Crossing developers Jamie Feeley and Josh Posner's statement they released to the press shortly after the new legal challenges were filed:

"Given the real and timely need for more housing options, the Town’s appeal of the recent HAC decision allowing Surfside Crossing to move forward is more than disappointing – it is incomprehensible," Feeley and Posner said in a statement shared with the Current last Tuesday. "The project will substantively improve the home ownership opportunities for Nantucket’s year-round residents: we have committed to reserving 50% of the homes for year-round islanders and remain interested in working with the Town or any other stakeholders, to reserve up to 75%, or even potentially 100% of the units for year-rounders. Unfortunately, the additional delays and associated legal costs make this increasingly difficult. Our team has made multiple efforts to identify collaborative paths forward, including possible compromises, all with the goal of creating additional year-round restricted units. We continue to urge the Town to work cooperatively with us to expedite the production of these units, and to find a feasible way to reserve an even greater percentage of this development for islanders. However, additional litigation is not serving this process, it only makes collaboration where our goals are aligned, harder to accomplish."

Holland told the Current that a key word in the Select Board's response that was not captured in the developers' remarks is “further discussions."

"There has been outreach over the past two-plus years by representatives of the Town to find common ground for the development of affordable and attainable year-round housing under terms and conditions which adequately address issues of local concern," Holland said. "Unfortunately so far, when it comes to formally agreeing to the representations the developers have made about their intentions of serving the year-round community, they have thus far been not been willing to commit in writing. Given the importance of the year-round housing issue, hopefully there will be reconsideration and reasonable minds will prevail."

Surfside Crossing would include 156 condominium homes contained within 18 three-story buildings (two stories above grade) off South Shore Road. Twenty-five percent of those units would be deed restricted for affordable housing, or a total of 39 units within the development. Feeley and Posner called the town's decision to join the appeal "incomprehensible" given the island's affordable housing crisis.

The state Housing Appeals Committee's ruling last month to approve the project vacated the Nantucket Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision to permit a scaled-down development of 60 units, and requires it to issue an amended comprehensive permit allowing for the 156 condominium units of the development to move ahead.

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Surfside Crossing would include 117 market rate units at two price points – $450,000 to $825,000. The remaining 39 condos would be priced at affordable rates – between $261,000 and $373,000 – for qualifying individuals making 80 percent or below the area median income.

The plans for Surfside Crossing were filed under a state statute known as Chapter 40B, which allows developers to bypass local zoning regulations and increase density if at least 20 to 25 percent of the new units have long-term affordability restrictions.

Last May, when the Housing Appeals Committee conducted a site visit on South Shore Road, roughly 100 island residents turned out to protest the development and send a message to the committee in Boston.

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