Vowing to break ground by July, the leaders of the controversial Surfside Crossing condominium development said last month that they were proceeding with the project at their own risk, despite three lawsuits against them still pending in the courts.
One of those lawsuits was filed last October by the town itself, through the Nantucket Zoning Board of Appeals, seeking to reverse the state Housing Appeals Committee’s decision to approve the 156 condominium project. But just six months later, could the town be changing its tune?
The Zoning Board of Appeals has called for an unusual meeting this Wednesday that breaks from its normal monthly schedule and has just a single public agenda item: “litigation update regarding Surfside Crossing 40B.”
The ZBA had an update on Surfside Crossing at its regular meeting last Thursday and is scheduled to talk about the project once again during its next monthly meeting in May. So why the need for a special meeting this week for an update on the litigation?
There are other clues that something is afoot with regard to the project. During its regular meeting last week, deputy planning director Leslie Snell told the board that the developers were proceeding at their own risk, and that they had filed detailed construction plans with the town. Further discussion, Snell said, would happen in May. Then this exchange happened:
“It’s more litigation, the town has going in a suit, right?” associate ZBA member Jim Mondani asked Snell.
“Currently, yes,” Snell replied.
“Is there anything the town is going to do with regard to a stay or something like that on this?” Mondani asked.
“I can’t really speak to that,” Snell responded.
This Wednesday’s ZBA meeting also caught the eye of the non-profit group Nantucket Tipping Point, which filed its own lawsuit against Surfside Crossing and has fought against the development for years.
“While it is unknown what the update will be, we are certainly counting on the Town of Nantucket Zoning Board of Appeals and Select Board standing by their request for denial of the project in their original letter to MassHousing on February 14, 2018 and to continue to participate along with Nantucket Tipping Point and the Nantucket Land Council in the appeal of the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) decision from September 16, 2022,” Nantucket Tipping Point wrote in a social media post on Sunday.
Surfside Crossing developer Jamie Feeley declined to comment over the weekend, while Nantucket’s housing director Tucker Holland did not immediately return a message from the Current. Tipping Point board member Meghan Perry also did not return a message seeking comment.
Last October, Feeley and his co-developer Josh Posner called the town’s appeal “incomprehensible,” while Holland said "the project is not acceptable as proposed” but emphasized that the town remained open to further discussions with the developers.
As it stands today, Surfside Crossing would include 156 condominium homes contained within 18-three story buildings (two stories above grade) on 13 acres of undeveloped pine forest off South Shore Road. As a Chapter 40B development, 25 percent of those units are required by the state to be deed restricted for affordable housing, or a total of 39 units within the development, to residents earning at or below 80% of the area median income.
“From the outset we have been clear that our team will be flexible and open-minded about a wide variety of partnerships that take a collaborative approach toward maximizing the positive impacts of Surfside Crossing on our year-round community,” Feeley said in a statement. While there is nothing yet set in stone, Feeley said those partnerships and collaborations could result in up to 75 percent - or 117 units - ending up in local ownership. They will be priced between $500,000 to $1.5 million.
Stay tuned for more on this developing story...