Nantucket Extends "Safe Harbor" From 40B Developments

Jason Graziadei •

2020 03 05 Overall Master Site Plan

After demonstrating progress toward creating new affordable housing units, Nantucket has earned another two years of so-called “safe harbor,” when it will be exempt from controversial 40B housing developments like Surfside Crossing.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) approved the town’s request for certification of compliance with its Housing Production Plan, granting Nantucket safe harbor through December 11th, 2024. The ruling comes after DHCD recognized 48 new affordable rental units and two new affordable homes within the Richmond Great Point subdivision off Old South Road.

The island had recently come to the end of the current safe harbor period, but the progress made in the 225-apartment, 94-house Richmond Great Point subdivision helped the town earn a two-year extension.

Specifically, the units deemed eligible for the town’s Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI) include 48 rental units in the “Richmonds Meadows II, Violet Place Acceleration phase” that were issued building permits in September and December 2022. Additionally, there were two homeownership units in the Richmond Sandpiper development that also qualified and were issued building permits in August 2022.

The rental units were “accelerated” with the assistance of taxpayer dollars from the town’s Affordable Housing Trust, bringing them to the construction phase sooner, and subsidizing the development to make more of the units affordable to households earning below 120 percent of the area median income (AMI).

“We were very pleased to get that letter from DHCD,” said Tucker Holland, Nantucket’s municipal housing director. The town’s Affordable Housing Trust “is playing a role in terms of buying down affordability and providing capital to allow them, rather than moving forward with 16 units, they’re moving forward with 48. Obviously in this market, speed is important to have product become available. Where they would have otherwise had 12 of 48 units restricted at 80 percent of AMI, we’re doubling the number of income restricted units and having levels at 70, 80, 110, and 120 which jives with what they've been seeing in the market.”

Along with the two affordable homeownership units in the Sandpiper development, “these projects total 50 SHI eligible units, enough for a two-year certification period,” Louis Martin, the director of the DHCD’s division of community services wrote to the town. 

The units will qualify to be counted among the town’s Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI), a list that is used to measure a community’s stock of low- or moderate-income housing for the purposes of the state 40B law. Cities and towns with less than 10 percent of their housing stock meeting the SHI criteria are subject to 40B affordable housing developments that allow greater density than allowed by zoning if 20 to 25 percent of the units meet the state’s definition of affordable housing.

Towns that reach 10 percent of their housing stock meeting the SHI criteria or demonstrate meaningful progress toward it are granted “safe harbor” from 40B developments. With the latest certifications, Nantucket is climbing closer to the 10 percent goal, as DHCD verified that the island’s current SHI stands at 6.78 percent.

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