Nantucket Land Council Announces New Appeal Of Surfside Crossing

Jason Graziadei •

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Following the state Housing Appeals Committee's approval of the controversial 156 condominium unit development known as Surfside Crossing development in mid-September, the Nantucket Land Council on Wednesday vowed to appeal the decision to Superior Court.

The Land Council, which has opposed the Surfside Crossing project since it was first proposed four years ago, is also calling on the town to join it in appealing the state committee's approval.

“The current zoning for this property (LUG2) would allow for a six-lot subdivision, with a total of twelve dwellings," said Emily Molden, the executive director of the Land Council. "This project is more than 10 times as dense, and will result in clear-cutting the entire site. Despite the developers’ claim that this oversized development is all about affordable housing, the 39 units being restricted by the developer is the minimum number required by the state’s Chapter 40b statute. While the NLC supports reasonable initiatives to provide needed affordable housing, the affordable portion of this project will not begin to outweigh the overall costs and impacts to the community if it is built. The rest of the units, 117 in number, will be unrestricted, and many will likely end up being used not as needed housing, but as short term rentals. Because this project is so inappropriate, The Nantucket Land Council will appeal the HAC’s recent decision to Superior Court, and it urges the Town to appeal as well.”

A group of neighbors and community members who have organized as the non-profit Nantucket Tipping Point have also vowed to appeal the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) decision.

The HAC's ruling on Sept. 16 vacated the Nantucket Zoning Board of Appeals’ (ZBA) 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.

The 47-page decision was authored by Werner Lohe, the presiding officer of the HAC. Lohe wrote that “after concluding that the development is uneconomic at the much-reduced size approved by the Board (ZBA), we have reviewed the local concerns raised concerning the developer’s proposal, and conclude that they all have been or will be resolved in a manner that protects the health, safety, and other interests of the occupants of the housing and of nearby residents of the town.”

Surfside Crossing, proposed by developers Jamie Feeley and Josh Posner, 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. Twenty-five percent of those units would be deed restricted for affordable housing, or a total of 39 units within the development.

The Land Council described the HAC as "a state administrative agency, with no ties to Nantucket" and said its decision was made with no local input from town officials or the island community. The non-profit said Surfside Crossing includes a $2.2 million clubhouse, even while its developers refuse to employ environmental monitors during construction at a cost of $50,000.

"This development is simply far too dense, and the community has far too much to lose, if it proceeds," said NLC President Lucy S. Dillon. "The fact that it is being imposed on us from Boston, without any local input or control, simply adds insult to injury. We hope the Town will move forward with an appeal of this decision as well, and challenge the developers’ inaccurate claims that ‘this development will be good for Nantucket.’”

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Nantucket Planning and Land Use Development director Andrew Vorce said that decision on whether the town will join the appeal in Superior Court ultimately rests with the Select Board. Those deliberations will likely occur in executive sessoin.

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 state Housing Appeals Committee has final say over Surfside Crossing, even though the local Zoning Board of Appeals previously approved a scaled-down version of the project.

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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