The ZBA, Surfside Crossing, And Affordable Housing

Meghan Perry •

To the editor: Last Thursday, May 11, 2023, there was a Superior Court Hearing regarding Surfside Crossing that raises some questions. Unfortunately, because the ZBA meeting was scheduled at the same time, board members could not attend, and no legal representation was sent. From this meeting it was noted:

  1. From the attorney for Surfside Crossing: Any further delay in construction would cause financial risk for his client, Surfside Crossing.
  2. It was brought up and noted that the ZBA was not represented during this hearing. The ZBA had no legal counsel present at the hearing.

My opinion and quick take away from those comments.

  1. Any request from the ZBA for extension will probably not be granted since the developer feels any further delay would put the project at financial risk.
  2. Does this statement further show why the Town Planning Director, Housing Director and Chair of the Affordable Housing Trust advised the Select Board to drop the appeal?
  3. Are the powers that be trying to help out the developers with funding by way of the funds from the Affordable Housing Trust to “get a seat at the table”?
  4. $6.5 Million taxpayer funds might be just the amount the developers need to bail themselves out if it passes at the ballot. Have we almost given them all the unchecked power they ever wanted?
  5. It is a shame that the ZBA was unable to have anybody present representing them, or looking out for the ZBA’s best interest. Especially since Town Meeting voters just approved $60,000 in legal funds for the ZBA to hire indecent counsel.
  6. Town counsel really couldn’t ethically be at court because it would show a very real conflict in interest- He would have to either side with the ZBA on matters or with Developer/Select Board wishes.
  7. The ZBA appealed the decision for very valid reason. Ten pages as written by the same Town Counsel who now has by way of the Select Board has dropped the appeal worth of good reason to be exact.

More concerning and notable reasons for the ZBA HAC appeal that have not been resolved:

“The (Housing Appeals) Committee failed to balance the Town’s local concerns against the need for housing, failed to properly credit the Town for compliance with the affordable housing requirements of the Act, and ignored the Board’s unrebutted expert evidence on local infrastructure issues such as sewer service and fire safety. The Board respectfully requests that this Court reverse and vacate the Committee’s decision, and remand the application to the Board for a public hearing and decision on the new project proposal which the Developer presented for the first time on appeal." -George Pucci Town Counsel

I urge the ZBA to hire Independent Counsel. The funding source has been provided by Town Meeting Vote. The citizens of Nantucket want to be properly represented and are willing to pay for it! And I urge voters to vote NO to $6.5 Million annually until the Affordable Housing Trust has a transparent plan in place for our funds.

Meghan Perry

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